Stephen Jay Gould: Marxist and Atheist?

Stephen Jay Gould: Marxist and Atheist?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By David A. Noebel
For more information on Summit's Worldview Camps, including their adult training program that will be held in April, please visit
          One of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Summit's Australian professors is Bill Muehlenberg.  In an excellent review of Alister McGrath's latest book The Dawkins Delusion, Muehlenberg innocently mentioned the late Stephen Jay Gould as an "atheist."  In fact, his reference was quite kind as these discussions go.  He merely said, "The late atheist Stephen Jay Gould at least tried to stick to the evidence in his discussions, but Dawkins simply offers the atheist equivalent of slick hellfire preaching . . .."
          Who was reading Muehlenberg's review of McGrath's book on flamethrower Richard Dawkins but the widow of Dr. Gould-Rhonda R. Shearer! And what she had to say on Muehlenberg's website is worth considering in total:
"For the record, my late husband, Stephen Jay Gould, told me many times that he was an agnostic and not an 'atheist.'  Eleanor, Steve's late mother, was an atheist.  Another misconception and perhaps more surprising to some:  Steve was not a communist.  He carefully said he learned communism 'on his father's knee'-not that he was a communist.  Steve always felt badly that he disappointed his father by not becoming a Marxist.  He, therefore, in honor of his father, gave the occasional lecture at communist locales, pro bono.  He mentioned how his critical independence from his father was struck on the day he realized that communism was 'misguided' and he dared to argue the points with his father.  After the fall of communism, Steve reflected that he was happy his father was 'not alive to see it.'  Steve did not like pigeon holes.  Critics attacked him with statements-'he is an atheist' or 'he is a red' or 'he is a communist.'  Steve would never retort 'I am not a communist' or "I am not an atheist.'  Too evocative of the McCarthy era for his taste." (Dated March 21, 2007)
          Stephen Jay Gould ultimately may not have been an atheist or a Marxist, but nearly his whole life argues in favor of both positions.
          Gould, who taught biology, paleontology, and geology at Harvard University, made the following statement: "Hegel's dialectical laws, translated into a materialist context, have become the official 'state philosophy' of many socialist nations.  These laws of change are explicitly punctuational, as befits a theory of revolutionary transformation in human society.  In the light of this official philosophy, it is not at all surprising that a punctuational view of speciation [the evolutionary process by which new species are formed] much like our own . . . has long been favored by many Russian paleontologists.  It may also not be irrelevant to our personal preferences that one of us [Gould] learned his Marxism, literally at his daddy's knee."
          One could nearly assume that Gould was telling the world he was indeed a Marxist.  And by definition the theology of Marxism is atheism.
          Interestingly, another Harvard professor, E. O. Wilson, took off after Gould by saying, "He's willing to denigrate his own field of evolutionary biology in order to downgrade the enemy, sociobiology, which is a small but important branch of evolutionary biology.  When Darwin conflicts with Marx, Darwin goes."
          And fellow evolutionist Michael Ruse opined, "Quite openly, one of the leading punctuated equilibrists, Stephen Jay Gould, admits to his Marxism, and lauds the way in which his science is informed by his beliefs."
          Two of Gould's fellow Harvard biological "revolutionaries" (Lewontin and Levin) co-authored a book on Marxist biology entitled The Dialectical Biology, published by Harvard University Press in 1986.  In a review of this textbook in Nature magazine, its author, David L. Hull, said, "Richard Levin and Richard Lewontin are two of the most knowledgeable and innovative evolutionary biologists working today.  They also view themselves as Marxist revolutionaries.  As Marxists, Levin and Lewontin insist that the economic substructure of a society strongly influences its ideational superstructure, including science."
          Gould, along with Lewontin, Levin, Jonathan Beckwith, Ruth Hubbard, and Herb Fox, founded an organization entitled "Science for the People."  Wikipedia begins its discussion of this organization as follows:  "Science for the People is a leftwing organization that emerged from the antiwar culture of the United States in the 1970s."  Harvard's E. O. Wilson labeled the organization "American Marxists."  Not insignificantly, the cover of its magazine contains the Communist clinched fist!
          In other words, nearly everything Gould touched over his lifetime would force most neutral onlookers to the conclusion that he was indeed a Marxist and by implication an atheist.  However, it would be nice to think that Gould saw the error of his ways and repented; that he saw what former atheist Antony Flew finally saw-that the universe could not have happened by chance; or what Whitaker Chambers discovered about Marxism-Leninism as related in his classic Witness.
          A famous passage in Witness continually bears remembering:  "You don't understand the class structure of American society," said Smetana, "or you would not ask such a question.  In the United States, the working class are Democrats.  The middle class are Republicans.  The upper class are Communists."
          The new edition of "Science for the People" has been reestablished since 2002 with an endorsement from one of the founders of the original Science for the People-Herb Fox.  In its working papers we are told "a few of us decided to start a magazine for Working Scientists active in the Anti-Capitalist Movement, as part of the European Social Forum." Let me make a prediction-this new leftwing "science" organization will be heavily involved in the global warming controversy on the side of big government and the "greening" of America. You see, the "upper class" greens are the new Communists of our era, and they have already decided that "science" is on their side and Western capitalism must be destroyed in order to save the planet from too much capitalistically produced carbon dioxide.  Was Whitaker Chambers right or not?
David A. Noebel
Summit Ministries
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
For more information on Summit's Worldview Camps please visit

Support Our Broadcast Network

We're a 100% Listener Supported Network

3 Simple Ways to Support WVW Foundation

Credit Card
100% Tax-Deductable
100% Tax-Deductable

Make Monthly Donations



A One-Time Donation

Mail or Phone
100% Tax-Deductable
  • Mail In Your Donation

    Worldview Weekend Foundation
    PO BOX 1690
    Collierville, TN, 38027 USA

  • Donate by Phone