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Listen: Berlinski on the Limits of Rational Discourse


 I had the opportunity to talk with two very different but equally provocative thinkers in the Darwin skeptic community, David Berlinski and Michael Denton, both Senior Fellows with the Center for Science & Culture.

The fascinating theme, articulated by Berlinski, is the limitations of rational discourse about science or anything else. We talked about responses to critiques of Darwinian evolution from conservative intellectuals, terrified by the prospect of a loss of social status that might come from entertaining ideas like that. Or who simply aren’t interested. Imagine that: Not interested in the origin of life, or the origin of the cosmos. Amazing.

I asked Berlinski and Denton what they thought was the nub of intellectual difference between a thoughtful Darwkin skeptic and a thoughtful Darwin loyalist. If you sat the two down in a room and made them argue their cases, what would turn out to be the bottom line issue that divided them? Here Berlinski reminded me I was giving too much credit to human reason, and maybe I am. He also imagines another hypothetical scenario: Locked in a room with Richard Dawkins for a hundred years, what would they talk about?

It’s a classic ID the Future episode. Download the podcast or listen to it here. We also refer to a conversation Berlinski had with the excellent Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution. You can find that here. Dr. Berlinski’s books include The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays. Dr. Denton’s latest is Children of Light.

Photo: David Berlinski, “Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions,” via YouTube/Hoover Institution.