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David Attenborough on Darwin, evolution and the Bible

Posted for Adam Rutherford.

Late last year, Nature Video filmed an exclusive interview with Sir David Attenborough about his views on Darwin, evolution, and how the Bible has put the natural world in peril. It’s now live on Nature’s YouTube site.

He talks about his new television programme “Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life”, which will be broadcast in the UK on BBC One on February 1st 2009 at 9pm, and singles out the book of Genesis as the root cause of man’s exploitation and devastation of the planet. He also explains that understanding evolution is vitally important because it inextricably places man as part of the natural world, rather than our having dominion over it.

This is an exclusive to Nature Video, and was produced and edited by Charlotte Stoddart. Enjoy!


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    Dan said:

    Excellent. Does anybody know where/when this will air in the US?

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    Stephen Roberts said:

    It does not “make sense” at all – Mr Strobel is simply marvelling at the beauty of how DNA has evolved. I have so little faith that I have no beliefs – instead I have curiosity and the courage to question everything.

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    Rob Adam said:

    Lee Strobel is a fraud, and not a scientist. In his ‘journalistic search for a creator’, he somehow managed to dig out the few people with PhDs who are also creationists.

    If he had bothered to speak to some real scientists who actually do science (gathering research, testing hypotheses, and engaging in peer-review), he would have been told something very different.

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    Dr Milton Wainwright said:

    When will David Attenborough tell the public the TRUTH about Darwin. He must know that Darwin(as well as Wallace) admitted that Patrick Matthew and Charles Wells came up with the idea of natural selection before Darwin and Wallace.He must know that it was Lamarck who first sketched the “tree of life” (search Google for “wainwrightscience” for details.)So why does he continue to peddle falsehoods about his hero(this is a rhetorical question!)

    Dr Milton Wainwright,Dept Molecular Biology and Biotechnology,Universty of Sheffield,UK.

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    Dr Bobby Brown said:

    I just find David Attenborough’s comments really unhelpful. We want people of faith to accept that there is good evidence that living things share a common ancestry and that natural selection is an important mechanism for how that has come about – but nowhere in the Bible are people encouraged to treat the Planet’s resources with contempt. Many people of faith would argue just the opposite.

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    Richard said:

    I agree that Attenborough’s view that the Bible is the reason why man has slashed and burned since the dawn of cilisation is sadly mistaken. As for the idea that man is superior to all other creatures – that goes much deeper than the Bible and is obvious from our superior brain. But just because I consider myself superior to other creatures, does not compell me to rush out and destroy them. If I had a farm I would be loath to have my crops destroyed by rabbits or other vermin and would have no compunction in destroying them. Similarly if I was threatened by a shark or a crocodile I would shoot them. Survival of the fittest is the name of the game. Attenborough hasnt been able to shake off the morality of the Bible which he critises. I admire Attenborough for his stunning documentaries on nature but he must be quite senile by now and his opinions are not worth much.

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    Harald Bergmann said:

    The bible seems o tell pretty irrational things, if we consider that green plants have been made during the second day and that the sun has been made later during the third day.

    The last tells that the “day” told can not even be a day of a suns circle.

    If we instead assume that the told “daily” sequence is given by a sequence of super nova eruptions, the time sequence looks much more compatible to the current scientific view.

    But in this case the plants would have to wait pretty long for a little sun shine. I guess only the existence of carbonic molecules are meant.

    This way all theories coincide.

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    David Evans said:

    I am sure that David Attenborough is very well aware of the potential weaknesses in the detail of some of his arguments, however I think the commentary overall serves to reinforce his important point regarding evolution, natural selection and our role in these. Surely one can only get across so much info in such a short interview. I suspect that his point, with relation to the bible is not belief versus non-belief, but simply, regardless of whether a god does or does not exist, we should be looking after our planet and realising that our daily actions jeopardise so very many things that also live on it. Evolution cannot keep up with such levels of human induced change to habitats and ecosystems!

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    Dan @ White Diesel said:

    I am a person of faith – I believe in a benevolent Creator of this Earth and this great universe and yet I am at a loss to respond to David Attenborough’s statement about that passage in Genesis where God commands man to go forth and multiply and conquer the earth. I fully agree that it is this attitude of seeing the earth as our dominion, something that needs to subdued and exploited, that has led to massive destruction of many ecosystems throughout the planet.

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