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“Billions and Billions of Demons”

Lewontin, Richard | The New York Review of Books , January 7, 1997


p. 31

Atheist materialists often commit themselves to atheism.  They want the world to have no God and they want to live without having to worry about God.  Nobody is more transparent or candid about his commitment than Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin: “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.  We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community of unsubstantiated “just so” stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.  It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter mystifying to the uninitiated.  Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”