I particularly like the line about there being more evidence for evolution than there was for William the Conqueror.
It’s also highly reassuring to hear this unconditional, pro-evolution line coming from the world’s preeminent natural historian. When Richard Dawkins rails against creationism and slams belief he does so out of a political agenda; not so David Attenborough.
I would disagree however with his analysis that the Book of Genesis has led to deforestation, global warming and environmental disaster:
Sir David, 82, said the devastation of the environment has its roots in the first words that God supposedly uttered to humankind, as detailed in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
An atheist raised in an academic, non-religious family, Sir David said Genesis peddled untruths about how animals and plants appeared on earth and was also at the root of why there was now serious environmental degradation due to the greedy overexploitation of the earth’s natural resources.
“The influence of the Book of Genesis, which says the Lord God said ‘go forth and multiply’ to Adam and Eve and ‘the natural world is there for you to dominate’, [is that] you have dominion over the animals and plants of the world,” Sir David said.
“That basic notion, that the world is there for us and if it doesn’t actually serve our purposes, it’s dispensable, that has produced the devastation of vast areas of the land’s surface.
I would say this may have been a justification for the abuse of the environment and of animal life during the industrial revolution – not so now. It would be an interesting point to investigate further, but I suspect that even though modern capitalism and its inexhaustible need to raid natural resources (because they until now have been the cheapest option on the balance sheet) to replenish itself may have had its philosophical origins here, what drives the exploitation of resources and environmental degradation is the system feeding on itself. Corporations for example used to be time- and function-limited organisations but grew into the all-devouring, unstable institutions we know today; capitalism has also evolved into something quite different. The guiding philosophy up to the economic collapse of last year was the maximisation of profit – all other considerations were secondary, and it became an end in itself.