Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sunday Quote: Richard Lewontin on Materialism

“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 for 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 counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”1

– Richard Lewontin

1 Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.


  1. Chad November 9, 2009

    Yes; when the science challenges the philosophy- materialism- the science must take a back seat.


  2. BallBounces February 2, 2015

    Science is rarely detached from its metaphysical underpinnings. When someone asks "do you believe in science", you really have to ask what they mean by that. The inadequacies of scientism are seen in the fact that its most ardent proponents are characterized by an underlying metaphysic that is itself beyond the demonstration of science.