Jay W. Richards

Senior Fellow at Discovery, Senior Research Fellow at Heritage Foundation

Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and the Executive Editor of The Stream.

Richards is author or editor of more than a dozen books, including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated (2013) and Indivisible (2012); The Human Advantage; Money, Greed, and God, winner of a 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award; The Hobbit Party with Jonathan Witt; and Eat, Fast, Feast. His most recent book, with Douglas Axe and William Briggs, is The Price of Panic: How the Tyranny of Experts Turned a Pandemic Into a Catastrophe.

Richards is also executive producer of several documentaries, including The Call of the Entrepreneur, The Birth of Freedom, and Effective Stewardship (Acton Media and Zondervan, 2009). He has been featured in several television-broadcast documentaries, including The Call of the Entrepreneur, The Case for a Creator, The Wonder of Soil, and The Privileged Planet, based on his book, The Privileged Planet, with astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez.

Richards' articles and essays have been published in The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Barron's, Washington Post, Forbes, National Review Online, Investor's Business Daily, Washington Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Huffington Post, The Federalist, The American Spectator, The Daily Caller, The Imaginative Conservative and many other publications. His topics range from culture, economics, and public policy to natural science, technology, and the environment. He has appeared on many national radio and TV programs, including Larry King Live; and he has lectured worldwide on a variety of subjects, including to Members of the US Congress.

Richards has a Ph.D., with honors, in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also has an M.Div. (Master of Divinity), a Th.M. (Master of Theology), and a B.A. with majors in Political Science and Religion. He lives with his family in the Washington DC Metro area.

Archives

Jay Richards Dismantles Carl Sagan’s Passive Theist

On today’s ID the Future, philosopher Jay Richards and host Eric Anderson wrap up their conversation about a video where Carl Sagan plumps for atheism. At one point Sagan suggests that if we give up on the belief in God, then we realize that we’re on our own and instead of waiting around for God to save us, we can roll up our sleeves and save ourselves and our planet. Richards notes that Sagan’s argument involves a strawman view of the Judeo-Christian worldview, which is miles apart from the idea of sitting around doing nothing while waiting for God to save us. As Richards and Anderson discuss, it’s no coincidence that the Christian West invented universities, hospitals, and science. What Read More ›

Jay Richards Talks God, Carl Sagan, and Word Games

On today’s ID the Future, philosopher Jay Richards, co-author of The Privileged Planet, continues a conversation with host Eric Anderson about Carl Sagan and a short video clip where Sagan fields questions about God. Sagan points out that there are different conceptions of God, but Jay asks, what’s his point? There are different conceptions of nature. That doesn’t mean that nature isn’t out there and that there aren’t true and false things that can be said about it. Also, when the vast majority of people speak about God, they have in mind a powerful, conscious Creator of nature. Sagan plays definitional games by redefining the meaning of “God.” Listen in to learn how, to what purpose, and to hear what Read More ›

Jay Richards: Before Carl Sagan Said It, Science Debunked It

On today’s ID the Future, Privileged Planet co-author Jay W. Richards sits down with host Eric Anderson to discuss the gold rush of extrasolar planet discovery and how the Privileged Planet hypothesis has held up since 2004. Richards teases an anniversary edition of The Privileged Planet in the works, and he and Anderson discuss the statement that Carl Sagan is perhaps most famous for. Richards explains how science had already disproven the famous Sagan claim by the time the astronomer first uttered it to millions of viewers in his documentary series Cosmos.

Easter: Let’s Feast!

I’ve written at length in this series about fasting, but have not said much about feasting. I did that for two reasons. First, few of us know why or we how should fast. And second, if we don’t know why we should fast, we may lose the meaning of feasting as well.

Is ID Bad Theology? No, but the Objection Is

On this ID the Future philosopher Jay Richards responds to Mark Vernon’s charge that intelligent design is bad theology. No, Richards says, the charge itself is based on bad theology, bad reasoning, and a faulty understanding of both intelligent design theory and theism. First, the theory of intelligent design doesn’t specify the identify of a designer or the specific means of causation. It merely makes an argument to intelligent design as the best explanation for certain features of the natural world. Second, even if it did involve arguing that the designer was God and that God had intervened at particular points in the history of the cosmos, such as in the origin of life or the emergence of human beings, Read More ›

The Price of Panic

The last months have been unlike anything we’ve ever seen, with extreme measures taken around the world to slow the spread of COVID-19. The policy of lockdowns and mass quarantines were widely adopted — but each passing day begs the question, did we take the right approach? COVID-19 is no doubt a real disease that should be taken seriously. But, Read More ›

George Gilder, Wealth & Poverty 40 Years Later

Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Jay Richards interviews George Gilder, Discovery Institute co-founder, author, and technology futurist, regarding his ground-breaking best-seller, Wealth and Poverty, and how the principles of capitalism articulated in the book are as applicable today as they have ever been.

Bringing ACES Vehicle Technology to the Puget Sound Region

Jay Richards Interviews Bruce Agnew at COSM
Jay Richards interviews Bruce Agnew, Director of the ACES Northwest Network, about the collective’s work to bring Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared vehicle technologies to the Puget Sound region. Agnew says that 5G will be key in implementing autonomous vehicles as it will increase bandwidth and reduce latency, thus adding a degree of technical capacity and safety.

Is Automated & Shared Vehicle Technology a Benefit to Humanity?

Jay Richards interviews Bryan Mistele at COSM 2019
Jay Richards interviews Bryan Mistele, Co-founder, President and CEO of INRIX, about the future of autonomous, connected, electric, shared (ACES) vehicle transportation systems. Mistele sees the implementation of ACES vehicles being a huge benefit to humanity as they will be much more convenient and cost effective, safer, and will lead to more effective land use by being able to do Read More ›

The Future of 5G

An Interview with AT&T's Andre Fuetsch
Jay Richards interviews Andre Fuetsch, President of AT&T Labs and Chief Technical Officer at AT&T, about the future of 5G communications. Feutsch says that one of the great benefits of 5G will not only be faster speeds, but much lower latency. This will be a “game changer” for latency-sensitive applications such as autonomous vehicles, drones, and online gaming that require Read More ›

Bill Dembski on a DYI Decentralized Currency

Jay Richards interviews mathematician, entrepreneur, and philosopher, Dr. Bill Dembski, about his unique thought experiment regarding how one could create a decentralized, DIY, information-based currency. Richards also explores with Dembski the concepts of natural and artificial intelligence. Trained as a mathematician and philosopher, Dr. Bill Dembski is a writer, editor, and researcher whose books and articles range over mathematics, engineering, Read More ›

Are Our Brains Downloadable?

An Interview with Robert J. Marks at COSM 2019
Jay Richards interviews Dr. Robert J. Marks II, Director of the Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence, about the meaning and future of artificial intelligence. Marks challenges the notion espoused by Ray Kurzweil and others that our minds are “downloadable.” In Marks’ view, there are certain aspects of our brain that are not algorithmic and thus can’t be uploaded Read More ›

Why Did Americans Agree to a National Lockdown?

Americans take our liberty seriously. We have the idea of limited government enshrined in our founding documents. We say we don’t like the Nanny State. So, why did we agree without a fight or a protest to shelter-in-place orders? To a total lockdown? It’s one thing to agree it would be best to work from home and avoid large crowds, or to quarantine people who are sick or at severe risk. It’s another for cities and states to order healthy, low-risk people not to go to work or church, or even to leave their houses, and to arrest them if they don’t comply. States can rightly do this only in the most extreme emergencies. Most Americans have never witnessed this, or anything like it — even in the middle of a hurricane.

New Cosmos Series Preaches the Religion of Materialism

On this episode of ID the Future, guest host Jay Richards interviews science historian Michael Keas about the new Neil deGrasse Tyson Cosmos television series and its “very impressionistic storytelling.” Starting with an episode titled “Ladder to the Stars,” Cosmos: Possible Worlds weaves a tale of chemical evolution that, according to Keas, fails to engage the tough problems required to build the first self-reproducing biological entity. Keas says it then it moves into a glib explanation for the origin of mind and human intelligence. As Richards and Keas show, evidence takes a back seat to storytelling in both this latest version of Cosmos and in its predecessors.

Why Does the Vatican Need Microsoft?

Should the Church really partner with IBM and Microsoft to make pronouncements on tech regulation?

When giant corporate actors like IBM and Microsoft promote “transparency and compliance with ethical principles?”, we run the risk that they are helping to craft regulations that hinder future competitors (“regulatory capture”). Rather than partner with them in making statements, the Church should stay clear.

Jay Richards on Eat, Fast, Feast and Human Design

On this episode of ID the Future, Jay Richards discusses his new book Eat, Fast, Feast. Fasting is a traditional religious practice “that’s fallen on hard times,” he says. We “graze” instead. But there’s scientific evidence for the value of intermittent fasting: it reduces total calories while upping adrenaline and human growth hormone, and without reducing metabolic rates. All this in addition to the spiritual benefits that have been recognized across cultures for many centuries. There are simplistic “just-so” evolutionary stories in other diet and health books attempting to explain how our bodies became well adapted for intermittent fasting, but he argues that a much better explanation is that we were intelligently designed this way. In his conversation with host Read More ›

Will Self-Driving Cars Change Moral Decision-Making?

It’s time to separate science fact from science fiction about self-driving cars

Irish playwright John Waters warns of a time when we might have to grant moral discretion to computer algorithms, just as Christians now grant to the all-knowing but often inscrutable decrees of God. Not likely.

Jay Richards at COSM Talks Kurzweil and Strong AI

On this episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid catches up with philosopher Jay Richards at the recent COSM conference in greater Seattle. The two discuss the history of George Gilder’s Telecosm conferences and how the first one gave birth to a book Richards edited and contributed to 18 years ago, Are We Spiritual Machines? Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong A.I. Is the “singularity” coming, as Kurzweil argues there and elsewhere, when machines equal and then quickly surpass human intelligence? Does “machine learning” really mean learning? Will “Skynet” wake up? Jay describes Kurzweil’s sunny version of strong AI and the dystopian version. Then he argues the other side, namely that human beings possess something beyond the purely material, Read More ›

If the mind is immaterial, is human cloning impossible?

I agree with Mike Egnor that the mind is immaterial but I don’t think human cloning is impossible

There are, of course, empirical implications of both the materialist and non-materialist understanding of the human mind. But the success of human cloning won’t weigh on the question one way or the other.

Jay Richards on How Materialism Dismantles Itself, and the Self

On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher and Discovery Institute senior fellow Jay Richards shows how materialism is an acid that eats itself along with the self. Richards argues that it also eats all the immaterial things that make science work — all while posing as objective science. The interview is taken from Discovery Institute’s new Science Uprising initiative, featuring high-concept short YouTube videos and single-expert interviews touch on a wide range of subjects related to intelligent design, philosophical materialism, theism, atheism and modern Darwinism. Richards and other familiar faces are among the experts, along with two or three distinguished scientists who may be new to followers of ID the Future. Check it out here.

New Evangelical Statement on AI is Balanced and Well-Informed

The signers are clearly (and rightly) skeptical that computers can become conscious moral agents

Too much of the debate over AI is dictated by prior metaphysical commitments that are rarely examined. This Evangelical Statement is a welcome contrast because it makes the theological issues explicit.

Universal Basic Income? Fear of AI Fuels a New Argument for Socialism

With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic candidates for president floating wilder trial balloons than a psychedelic circus, I’m surprised they have not (yet) picked up on the universal basic income (UBI). The UBI (guaranteed income for employable people who choose not to work) is far and away the favorite “solution” among those strong AI enthusiasts who expect machines to replace human work. They expect vast swaths of the country to be out of work for good. So far, the only candidate plugging UBI is entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Yang is more idea-oriented than his Democratic opponents and he has made UBI central to his presidential campaign in the key state of Iowa. His plan would offer $1,000 a month per person. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before other Democratic candidates pick up on this platform plank, on the assumption that their likely voters will imagine it as free money.

Universal Basic Income? Fear of AI Fuels Bad Economics

If new technology led to mass permanent unemployment, history would be an endless saga of expanding joblessness

Although the coming shift will be abrupt, new technologies enable us to focus, as economists would put it, on our comparative advantage over machines. 

That Robot Is Not Self-Aware

The way the media cover AI, you'd almost think they had invented being hopelessly naïve
If this is how The Telegraph reports on a robotic arm, can you imagine what it will sound like when we get humanoid robots who seem to carry on conversations? We had best inoculate ourselves now against AI hype from science reporters while most of us still have enough self-awareness to realize what’s going on.

Rob Crowther Debriefs Jay Richards on the Dallas Conference on Science & Faith

On this episode of ID the Future, host Robert Crowther speaks with Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Jay Richards, a speaker at last weekend’s Dallas Conference on Science & Faith. Coming available soon on video, this conference featured Richards, Eric Metaxas, Stephen Meyer, and world-renowned synthetic organic chemist James Tour — plus a surprise guest. For all the great presenters there, though, Richards’ favorite feature of the conference was the thousand attendees — some of them skeptics — who stayed straight through to the close and beyond, asking questions and learning that science, more than ever, supports faith in a designing intelligence.

A Short Argument Against the Materialist Account of the Mind

You can simply picture yourself eating a chocolate ice cream sundae.
We have thoughts and ideas—what philosophers call “intentional” states—that are about things other than themselves. We don’t really know how this works. But whenever we speak to another person, we assume it must be true. And in our own case, we know it’s true. Even to deny it is to affirm it.

Chaberek: Why Thomas Aquinas Would Have Loved Intelligent Design

On this episode of ID the Future, Father Michael Chaberek, author of the books Catholicism and Evolution and Aquinas and Evolution, explains why the theory of intelligent design meshes well with the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. In his conversation with host Jay Richards, Chaberek, creator of the site Aquinas.Design, notes that some Thomists complain about ID, but he argues that they misunderstand what ID is and isn’t. As for criticism that ID is a “God of the Gaps” argument, Chaberek urges Thomists to consider where that complaint leads: For Catholics, and Christians generally, that complaint proves way too much, he argues.

Trump Calls for a Reform of Perverse Welfare System. Media (Mostly) Ignore It

On Tuesday, President Trump issued an executive order calling on secretaries in eight federal departments to work on reforming their bloated welfare bureaucracies. They are to spend the next month looking for ways to fix the programs under their charge, and report back. You can be forgiven if you didn’t hear about this. Insofar as the media covered it, they mostly painted Trump as a mean old rich guy who doesn’t care about the poor. Check out this “explainer” piece at Vox for one example. In truth, this move is Trump at his best. Reversing Obama But what can he do by way of executive order? Quite a lot as it turns out. President Obama spent his two terms gutting the Welfare Reform Act of Read More ›

The Scariest Federal Agency You’ve Never Heard Of

The CFPB is the progeny of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was supposed to fix the problems that led to the 2008 financial crisis. For some reason, however, the CFPB has been given unprecedented control over financial institutions that didn't have a darn thing to do with the crisis.