David Berlinski

Writer, Thinker, Raconteur, and Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute

David Berlinski received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University and was later a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University. He is currently a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. Dr. Berlinski has authored works on systems analysis, differential topology, theoretical biology, analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of mathematics, as well as three novels. He has also taught philosophy, mathematics and English at such universities as Stanford, Rutgers, the City University of New York and the Universite de Paris. In addition, he has held research fellowships at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES) in France.

Recent articles by Dr. Berlinski have been featured in Commentary, Forbes ASAP, and the Boston Review. Two of his articles, "On the Origins of the Mind" (November 2004) and "What Brings a World into Being" (March 2001) have been anthologized in The Best American Science Writing 2005 , edited by Alan Lightman (Harper Perennial), and The Best American Science Writing 2002, edited by Jesse Cohen, respectively.

He is author of numerous books, including A Tour of the Calculus (Pantheon 1996), The Advent of the Algorithm (2000, Harcourt Brace), Newton's Gift (The Free Press 2000), The Secrets of the Vaulted Sky (Harcourt, October 2003), A Short History of Mathematics for the Modern Library series at Random House (2004), The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (Crown Forum, 2008), and The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements (Basic Books, 2013).


David Berlinski on the Immaterial, Alan Turing, and the Mystery of Life Itself

The new book Science After Babel is again in the spotlight here at ID the Future, with its author, philosopher and mathematician David Berlinski, and host Andrew McDiarmid teasing various elements of the work. The pair discuss the puzzling relationship between purely immaterial mathematical concepts (the only kind) and the material world; World War II codebreaker and computing pioneer Alan Turing, depicted in the 2014 film The Imitation Game; and the sense that the field of physics, once seemingly on the cusp of a theory of everything, finds itself at an impasse. Then, too,  Berlinski writes, there is the mystery of life itself. If scientists thought that its origin and nature would soon yield to scientific reductionism, they have been disappointed. Life’s “fantastic and controlled complexity, its brilliant inventiveness and diversity, its sheer difference from anything else in this or any other world” remains before us, suggesting, as Berlinski puts it, “a kind of intelligence evident nowhere else.” Get your copy of the book at www.scienceafterbabel.com.

David Berlinski on Chickens, Eggs, Human Exceptionalism, and a Revolution

On today’s ID the Future, Science After Babel author David Berlinski continues discussing his newly released book from Discovery Institute Press. In this conversation with host Andrew McDiarmid, Berlinski explores a chicken-and-egg problem facing origin-of-life research, a blindness afflicting some evolutionists focused on human origins, and the mystery of why science almost flowered in ancient Greece, early Medieval China, and in the Muslim-Arab Medieval Empire, but did not, having to await the scientific revolution that swept through Europe beginning in the sixteenth century. Check out the endorsements and get your copy, paperback or e-book, at scienceafterbabel.com.

David Berlinski on His New Book, Science After Babel

On today’s ID the Future, host Andrew McDiarmid rings up Science After Babel author David Berlinski in Paris to discuss the philosopher’s latest book. Berlinski is at his cultivated best as the two discuss everything from the biblical Tower of Babel as a metaphor for modern materialistic science, to his friendship with the brilliant and colorful French intellectual Marcel Schützenberger, a world-class mathematician who was self-taught and, as we learn here, came within a hair’s breadth of being swept up in the Chinese Revolution. Berlinski also reflects on the seminal 1966 WISTAR symposium, which laid out some mathematical challenges to Darwinism, challenges that Berlinski says remain unanswered to this day. At the same time, Berlinski gives the devil—here Darwinism—its due. Tune in for this and more, and order your copy of Berlinski’s Science After Babel here.

Medved, Berlinski Take on Steven Pinker and Whig History

On this ID the Future, Human Nature author and polymath David Berlinski and radio host Michael Medved discuss everything from human depravity, the burning of Notre Dame, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the Big Bang and a quixotic century-old pact to ban war. Berlinski argues that the case for the death of God and the case for the impending demise of human depravity have been greatly exaggerated. Contra Steven Pinker, Berlinski insists that there is little if any evidence that human evil is being steadily rolled back by the spread of secular values. Further, the idea that science has disproven God flies in the face of trends running in the opposite direction, perhaps most dramatically in the triumph of the Big Bang theory over an eternal universe model. Berlinski, who himself is not religious, insists that Whig history is bankrupt and that anyone imagining that human depravity and the God hypothesis are things of the past are themselves living in the past. Today’s recording is reproduced here by permission of Michael Medved and The Michael Medved Show.

David Berlinski on Nazism, Darwinism, Emotivism, and Nature Rights

On today’s ID the Future, Human Nature author David Berlinski continues his conversation with host Wesley J. Smith. Here Berlinski reflects on the Jewish Holocaust, the destructive nihilism of the Nazis and the SS, and the shortcomings of Neo-Darwinism as an explanation for the diversity of life. Berlinski and Smith also discuss the increasingly widespread attacks on human exceptionalism, the growth of emotivism and why it’s a problem, and the bizarre nature rights movement. This is the second and concluding part of a conversation borrowed, with permission, from Wesley J. Smith’s Humanize podcast.

David Berlinski on the Universal Civilization, Architectural Decline, and Fleeing the Nazis

On this ID the Future, host Wesley J. Smith talks with polymath and Human Nature author David Berlinski about the philosophy of mathematics, the corruption of science, the burning of Notre Dame, modern Europe’s curious incapacity to build graceful, beautiful structures, and what’s driving the devolution of Western society. But before any of that, Berlinski relates the dramatic story of how his parents, European Jews, escaped the Nazis only by the skin of their teeth. This is Part 1 of a two-part conversation borrowed with permission from Wesley J. Smith’s Humanize podcast.

Peter Robinson Interviews David Berlinski, Pt. 3

Today’s episode of ID the Future features the third and final part of a conversation between Uncommon Knowledge host Peter Robinson and Darwin skeptic David Berlinski, author of the newly released book Human Nature. Here the pair discuss the fate of Europe. Then they turn again to science, and the challenge the second law of thermodynamics poses for Darwinism and, by implication, to any theory of biological origins restricted to purely mindless processes. Berlinski suggests that this poses a considerable challenge, tempting Robinson to ask Berlinski whether he still consider himself an agnostic.

Peter Robinson Interviews David Berlinski, Pt. 2

This episode of ID the Future features the second part of a conversation between Uncommon Knowledge host Peter Robinson and polymath David Berlinski, author of the newly released book Human Nature. In this segment of the interview, Robinson asks Berlinski about a book by Nicholas Christakis, Blueprint, which argues that evolution has endowed us with a genetic makeup that drives human culture toward virtue and progress. Berlinski demurs, pointing to the horrors of the twentieth century and by noting that the virtues Christakis underscores, such as cooperativeness, can also be put to nefarious purposes. The Nazi Party, for instance, “was a marvelous engine of cooperation. All those Nazis cooperated with one another running death camps.” Robinson also asks Berlinski about Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 Regensburg address and the West’s relegating religious thinking, in Peter Robinson’s words, “to the children’s table.” Berlinski says he would frame the situation a little differently: we are today less able to entertain a whole category of arguments we used to be able to entertain — theological arguments. As a habit of thought, theology has receded, but Berlinski says he sees this as temporary. “Theological arguments are not going to disappear, and the fundamental questions they address are not going to disappear either.” 

Peter Robinson Interviews David Berlinski, Pt. 1

This episode of ID the Future features Part 1 of an interview between Uncommon Knowledge host Peter Robinson and Discovery Institute senior fellow David Berlinski, author of The Deniable Darwin and the newly released Human Nature. Berlinski begins by noting that living systems possess “a degree of complexity that is almost unfathomable” and explains how this poses an acute problem for Darwinism. The two also discuss discontinuities in the fossil record as well as Berlinski’s insistence that “any theory of natural selection must plainly meet what I have called a rule against deferred success.” Berlinski also rebuts Razib Khan’s claim that in rejecting modern evolutionary theory, conservatives sacrifice “the most powerful rejoinder” to the claim “that male and female are merely categories of the mind.” Quite the opposite, Berlinski insists.

David Berlinski on His New Book, Human Nature, Pt. 2

On this episode of ID the Future, mathematician, polymath, and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow David Berlinski concludes a two-part conversation with Jonathan Witt about Berlinski’s new book Human Nature. Today he talks about what we’ve sadly lost from the West, disputing secularists’ optimistic claims that we’re less violent than the medievals were. From his home next door to Notre Dame Cathedral, he also muses on the cathedral fire and contemporary France’s inability to build anything like the great cathedral. Re-construct, yes — though even that may lie beyond the collective will of France. Create, no. 

David Berlinski on His New Book Human Nature, Part 1

On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher, mathematician, and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow David Berlinski answers questions from Jonathan Witt about Berlinski’s celebrated new book Human Nature. Is evolution carrying us upward to new heights of human goodness, as some have claimed? If not that, then will a computer-connected singularity take us on that upward trajectory, as Yuval Noah Harari argues in Homo Deus? With his famous quick wit, Berlinski says no, and warns of a new “explosion of religion,” but a new religion, one without rational grounding and with a great willingness to punish dissenters.

David Berlinski on Cladistics and Darwin’s Doubt, pt. 2

On this episode of ID the Future, Dr. David Berlinski continues his exploration of cladistics and the Cambrian explosion. Listen in as Berlinski explains the limitations of cladistic analysis and looks at some specifics of Nick Matzke’s critique of Darwin’s Doubt.