|Category:||Interview - Magazine||Publish date:||8/1/2004|
|Source:||Seed Magazine (Summer 2004) (United States)||With:||Greg Graffin|
|Synopsis:||Greg Graffin leads punk-rock heroes Bad Religion and lectures on God, atheism, and evolution. He takes a break from touring to explain why Charles Darwin is just as punk as Sid Vicious.
Note: The second part of the interview is missing here.
Charles Darwin just as punk as Sid Vicious
Greg Graffin, leader of the punk band Bad Religion, explains how he came to work with Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson in an interview at Seed Magazine:
You’ve mentioned before that you’ve corresponded with luminaries in your field like E.O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins.
"Yeah, I met Richard Dawkins at his house in Oxford specifically to talk about my PhD project on evolution and religion. He was very kind, and he admired a portion of my work that helped clarify evolutionists’ philosophical beliefs. Likewise, E. O. Wilson was involved in my PhD study—he clarified his own philosophical stance in my dissertation. Essentially, I wanted to round up the best minds of this generation, to see what the prevailing views about evolution and religion were— and all of them were quite divided about whether the two were compatible. Darwin was the original interpreter, and he believed there was no compatibility between the two; he could not see how one could get behind religion. So I chose to survey various opinions."
Do elements of those ideas and conversations ever slip into your music?
"Mostly, Dawkins’ and Wilson’s writings helped me form my evolutionary worldview—but they’re only a couple elements of my total evolutionary education. In addition to Dawkins, I met with Ernst Mayr, George C. Williams, John Maynard Smith, Richard Lewontin, and Tom Eisner. With such a privileged experience, it’s impossible to keep my music writing free of [their] ideas. Melding my experience in science with songwriting has helped Bad Religion remain viable and vital without becoming stale and boring, as any band of our age rightly should become!"
So the idea for the book you’re writing sprung from your dissertation: to reconcile the philosophical ties between evolution and religion.
I am not the first to identify those ties. Dawkins famously stated that Darwin allows us to be “intellectually fulfilled atheists.” I don’t believe I am inventing this idea of an atheistic religion based on evolution, but rather, like Dawkins, I hope to help focus people’s minds on a different plane and provoke them to see religion and evolution a bit differently. I hope to have it out in 2005.
How will you approach your topic differently than everyone before you?
I think I’ll turn this polemic toward an even more popular audience. I mean, Dawkins is one of the best-selling science writers of all time, and if I could even remotely approach that, I would feel honored. I do have one thing going for me: hundreds of thousands of BR fans. I’d like to show them how their worldview might fit into an evolutionary worldview, and I’d like to take those scientists indoctrinated in evolution and show how their views approach religious views. By and large, this question hasn’t been reconciled, because they don’t want to start a war. There is a culture of politeness, and that’s something I don’t think should stand. These are the coals that I want to stoke.
How will you translate those ideas for the average punk-rock fan?
On our new album, The Empire Strikes First, we have a song that states there is “no justice, just a cause and a cure and a bounty of suffering it seems we all endure”—which is, I think, an evolutionary worldview. This is an example of how complicated scientific concepts can be expressed in verse and can resonate with punkers even if they haven’t had evolutionary training.
Is there a connection between science audiences and punk audiences?
Every year in the mid ’90s, hecklers shouted, “Play your early good stuff!” They weren’t interested at all in the new songs. Addressing a skeptical audience at a lecture is the same—they don’t really have much faith in you until you can provide them with something they haven’t already thought about, and in certain [... the rest of the interview is missing...]
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