Genes and Atheism

Interesting report on the strident atheism of Francis Crick and James Watson the discoverers of DNA. My favorite anecdote is this:

The antipathy to religion of the DNA pioneers is long standing. In 1961 Crick resigned as a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, when it proposed to build a chapel.

When Sir Winston Churchill wrote to him pointing out that “none need enter [the chapel] unless they wish”, Crick replied that on those grounds, the college should build a brothel, and enclosed a cheque for 10 guineas.

“My hope is that eventually it will be possible to build permanent accommodation within the college, to house a carefully chosen selection of young ladies in the charge of a suitable Madam who, once the institution has become traditional, will doubtless be provided, without offence, with dining rights at the High Table,” he wrote.

Watson described how he gave up attending mass at the start of the Second World War. “I came to the conclusion that the Church was just a bunch of fascists that supported Franco. I stopped going on Sunday mornings and watched the birds with my father instead.”

This interest in ornithology led to a glittering career in science - and the discovery of the double helix.