Recorded: 09 Sep 2003
My approach is that I’m not very interested in religion. I don’t find it very convincing. But I try not to be a militant atheist because I know that it upsets people, and because there is one sense in which if religion is an instinct in the genes, you know, being religious is in some sense inevitable in some people, then in that sense there’s no point in arguing against it. And in another sense you can say it’s almost true. Some kind of belief is almost inevitable in a lot of people. But I certainly don’t find it a—I don’t find religion a helpful thing in the quest for knowledge and indeed in the quest for virtue.
Matt Ridley is a journalist and a leading science writer. He earned his Ph.D. in zoology from Oxford University in 1983. He worked as a correspondent and editor for The Economist, a columnist for Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph and as editor of The Best American Science Writing 2002.
His books include Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature; Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation; Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters ; Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human; and Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code. His books have been short-listed for many literary awards.
He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Ridley is the honorary life president of the International Centre for Life, Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s park devoted to life science that he founded in 1996. He is chairman of Northern Rock plc, and other financial services firms.
In 1996, Ridley first visited Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and made James D. Watson’s acquaintance. In 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and is a visiting professor at the lab.