09 April 2008

An Atheist's Longing.

Ecologist Paul Colinvaux, interviewed on the radio program "Living on Earth", looks back over a long and fruitful career, but contemplates his end with melancholy (and either contradiction or irony):

GELLERMAN: In the Galapagos, you also discovered a plant.


GELLERMAN: It's named after you.

COLINVAUX: Passionflora Colinvauxiae. Yes, it's one that Darwin missed.

GELLERMAN: I think it's very interesting that it's a passion flower, because you're a passionate man.

COLINVAUX: Well, that's kind, yes.

GELLERMAN: But I'm saying, how many other people do you know, who would spend forty years trekking through the equatorial regions in search of ancient lakes and pollen from an Ice Age?

COLINVAUX: There aren't any.

GELLERMAN: Your work shows that the core samples that you've collected over these many years don't show an increase in grass pollen during the Ice Age.


GELLERMAN: So now, after the end of a 40-year career investigating this, trekking through thick and thin, aren't you a little, well, disappointed that you don't have an answer to replace this hypothesis?

COLINVAUX: Well, I would like to have another 40 years. I rather suspect the good God's not going to give it to me. Perhaps because I'm an atheist like most biologists with sense.

GELLERMAN: Well, professor, thank you for coming by. I really appreciate it.

COLINVAUX: Thank you.

GELLERMAN: Paul Colinvaux is senior research scientist at Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, and professor emeritus at the Ohio State University. His new book is called "Amazon Expeditions: My Quest for the Ice Age Equator."

Read or listen to the whole thing.


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