David Berlinski

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

Archives

Pt. 3: David Berlinski at “Socrates in the City”

On this episode of ID the Future, David Berlinski continues his examination of modern scientism. In the previous segment, Berlinski addressed the shortcomings of New Atheism; tune in as he closes his talk by discussing the “arrogance of the scientific community.”

Pt. 2: David Berlinski at “Socrates in the City”

On this episode of ID the Future, hear more of David Berlinski’s talk at a Socrates in the City event in Manhattan. In the following segment, Berlinski discusses the impact of modern scientism and evaluates the social phenomena of New Atheism.

Pt. 1: David Berlinski at “Socrates in the City”

On this episode of ID the Future, listen to the first segment of CSC Sr. Fellow David Berlinski’s talk at Socrates in the City, hosted by biographer and humorist Eric Metaxas. Tune in as Dr. Berlinski traces modern scientism, and its antipathy to religious belief, to the dawn of the Enlightenment.

Berlinski & Denton, pt. 3: Top-Down versus Bottom-Up Worldview

On this episode of ID The Future, mathematician David Berlinski joins biochemist Michael Denton for continued discussion on the difficulties of Darwinian evolution to be a viable modern theory of the origin and development of life and the cosmos. On this episode, Berlinski explains why many conservative intellectuals have trouble doubting Darwin. Denton suggests that the mechanistic, Darwinian framework will eventually collapse, and reviews the essential differences in worldview between the Darwin supporter and the Darwin doubter. Tune in to the final episode of this stimulating exchange!

David Berlinski & Michael Denton: Primary Objections to Neo-Darwinism

On this episode of ID The Future, Discovery Institute senior fellows David Berlinski and Michael Denton, both long-time critics of neo-Darwinism, discuss their primary objections to neo-Darwinian theory. For Berlinski, a mathematician and author of 1, 2, 3: Absolutely Elementary Mathematics, the problem is quantitative and methodological. For Denton, a scientist and author of Nature’s Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, the problem is empirical. Don’t miss this engaging discussion!

I Told You So

From the introduction to The Deniable Darwin: My own view, repeated in virtually all of my essays, is that the sense of skepticism engendered by the sciences would be far more appropriately directed toward the sciences than toward anything else. It is not a view that has engendered wide-spread approval. The sciences require no criticism, many scientists say, because the sciences comprise a uniquely self-critical institution, with questionable theories and theoreticians passing constantly before stern appellate review. Judgment is unrelenting. And impartial. Individual scientists may make mistakes, but like the Communist Party under Lenin, science is infallible because its judgments are collective. Critics are not only unwelcome, they are unneeded. The biologist Paul Gross has made himself the master of Read More ›

How David Berlinski Became a Scientific Critic

This episode of ID the Future features David Berslinski on his new book, The Deniable Darwin & Other Essays and the identity he found as a scientific critic and his notorious Commentary essay attacking Darwinian theory.

Darwin and the Mathematicians

ENV: In the past, you’ve remarked about mathematicians and their opinions of Darwin’s theory of evolution. They were skeptical, you said; very skeptical. John Von Neumann was an example. How do you know that about him and about other mathematicians? DB: How do I know? Here’s how: I have been close to a number of mathematicians, and friends with others: Daniel Gallin (who died before he could begin his career), M.P. Schutzenberger (my great friend), René Thom (a friend as well), Gian-Carlo Rota (another friend), Lipman Bers (who taught me complex analysis and with whom I briefly shared a hospital room, he leaving as I was coming), Paul Halmos (a colleagues in California), and Irving Segal (a friend by correspondence, Read More ›

David Berlinski on The Deniable Darwin and Commentary

Q: Many of the most important and lengthiest essays in The Deniable Darwin were originally published in Commentary magazine. How did that fruitful partnership, or patronship, come about? Did you encounter any resistance from the Commentary readership? DB: My association with Commentary was a stroke of good luck. I wanted a wider readership. Who doesn’t? So I wrote [editor] Neal Kozodoy a letter. It was 1994. Neal, for reasons of his own, thought it important to broaden Commentary‘s intellectual horizons. We had been struck by the fact that science as an institution lacks for critics. To a very surprising extent, it gets a free pass. So our association began. I’ve never known a better editor. “The Deniable Darwin” provoked a Read More ›

Spending the Public’s Money: It’s a Tough Job

Seeking relief from the demands of geschaeft, The Washington Times reported recently, senior officials at the National Science Foundation routinely spend a great deal of their time (and our money) visiting pornographic sites on the Internet. Just possibly, I suspect, they spend all of their time on stress relief and none on the public’s business, stress relief so striking as to cancel its cause entirely. “The problems at the National Science Foundation (NSF) were so pervasive,” the Times reported, “they swamped the agency’s inspector general and forced the internal watchdog to cut back on its primary mission of investigating grant fraud and recovering misspent tax dollars.”

David Berlinski: Does Darwin Matter?

ENV: How do the scientific issues you write about affect the way we live? Why should the Darwin question matter to people who don’t normally concern themselves with scientific theories? DB: I think of the Darwinian debate in the way that Dickens thought of Jardynce v Jarndyce in Bleak House. It is awfully easy to be sucked into it, and once suckered, awfully difficult to get out. I have seen it so often. A man wakes and because has read a book or scanned an essay, he is persuaded that he can make a contribution. He is eager to make it. He offers his opinion on the Internet and is gratified by the prospect of the congratulations that he is Read More ›

David Berlinski on Religion, His Teaching, and His Life in Paris

ENV: You describe yourself as a “secular Jew” and “remarkably indifferent to the religious life.” Yet so much of your writing bears directly on whether religion has been intellectually defeated by secular, science-flavored ideologies. You can’t have given no thought to religious questions. Would you share with us your hunches and suspicions about spiritual reality, the trend in your thinking, if not your firm beliefs? DB: No. Either I cannot or I will not. I do not know whether I am unable or unwilling. The question elicits in me a stubborn refusal. Please understand. It is not an issue of privacy. I have, after all, blabbed my life away: Why should I call a halt here? I suppose that I Read More ›

David Berlinski on the Darwinian Guild

ENV: Darwinism is fiercely guarded by a scientific guild. What does the guild have at stake in this? Prestige? Money? To some observers, the defense seems impermeable. Do you see cracks in the fortress wall opening up? DB: Fiercely guarded, but not, mind you, effectively guarded. If the Darwinian Guild, to adapt your phrase (since science has nothing to do with it), was interested in rational self promotion, the Guild would have never allowed its members to display in public their characteristic attitude of invincible arrogance and sheep-like stupidity. Just listen to them as they limber up in the insult room: Dumbski, Little Mikey Behe, Stevie Meyer (a regression to school yard taunts irresistible at both the Panda’s Thumb and Read More ›

Who Influenced David Berlinski?

ENV: Did anyone in particular, a colleague or friend, influence the conclusions you reach in these essays? DB: No, I don’t think so. Daniel Gallin has been an influence on my thinking, but our friendship ended more almost thirty years ago, and so his influence is no longer of this time or place. Daniel introduced me to model theory. That was his gift to me. After studying with Church at Princeton, I regarded model theory as an immersion into cool water. Such ease, such elegance, such freedom! Had I stayed in mathematics as a research mathematician, I would have stayed in model theory. In the 1980s, I wrote a monograph for the Princeton University Press in which I reached the Read More ›

How David Berlinski Came to Doubt Darwin

ENV: When did you start thinking, as a critic, about Darwinian evolution? Did anything in your biography incline you to freethinking in that area? It was the fall of 1965. My graduate school roommate Daniel Messenger and I were ambling along Nassau Street in Princeton. We were munching the kind of wonderful Winesap apples that seem to have disappeared as a variety. I wonder why that is? Daniel’s girlfriend, Sandra Petersen, was there too. Daniel was a fine philosopher and Sandra was doing a degree in classical philosophy. We walked over to Darwin’s theory of evolution, living at the time in one of Princeton’s back alleys. A back alley was the right place to look for Darwin. No one in Read More ›

The Making of a Skeptic: David Berlinski’s Childhood

ENV: Were you always subversive? Tell us about the childhood David Berlinski. I am not sure that I would care to think of myself as subversive. It is a mole-and-badger kind of word, isn’t it? So long as we are searching for similes, I would prefer lion-like. Regal is another fine word. I was from an early age indisposed to accept what I had been told. Having been urged not to insert a fork into an electrical outlet, I stuck one in anyway; I was shocked to discover that it was a poor idea, just as my mother had maintained. An impatient child, I became a school yard terror, and a high-school bully. At the Bronx High School of Science Read More ›