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Was astronomer Fred Hoyle a creationist?

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Sort of. Depends how you want to define it.

Michael Flannery Science historian Michael Flannery notes,

I think it is a fair assessment to consider Hoyle a creationist in the broadest sense of the term. Yes, he rejected Darwinian evolution, and yes, he held to panspermia, but his book The Intelligent Universe: A New View of Creation and Evolution (1983) and other writings I think substantiate Theodore Walker’s assessment that Hoyle’s views accorded “with the religious idea of a supremely intelligent Creator-Provider-Sustainer of the universe” that was essentially panenthic and at least implicitly pro-theistic (see Walker’s “‘The Relation of Biology to Astronomy’ and Theology: Panspermia and Panentheism: Revolutionary Convergences Advanced by Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe,” J. Cosmology19 [June 2012]). This may not be biblical creationism, but is a form of creationism.

New one on us, because Hoyle is usually billed as an atheist pure and simple.

More on panspermia and panentheism.


Although Hoyle was most widely known for this cosmological theory, there is little doubt that his most lasting and significant contribution to science concerns the origin of the elements. This theory of nucleogenesis (the build-up of the elements in the hot interiors of stars) was an outstanding scientific landmark of the 1950s. In the development of this theory Hoyle collaborated with WA Fowler of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and with Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge.

There’s also an interesting story at the obit link above re speculation as to why Hoyle did not get the Nobel.

16 Replies to “Was astronomer Fred Hoyle a creationist?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    The delicate balance at which carbon is synthesized in stars is truly a work of art. Years after Fred Hoyle discovered the stunning precision with which carbon is synthesized in stars he stated:

    “From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? … I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” –
    Sir Fred Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.

    And the fine tuning for Carbon synthesis in stars that led Hoyle to make such a provocative remark, has now been shown to be even more finely tuned than Hoyle realized at the time that he made his infamous remark:

    The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Life Just Got Finer – March 15, 2013
    Excerpt: In new lattice calculations done at the Juelich Supercomputer Centre [in Germany] the physicists found that just a slight variation in the light quark mass will change the energy of the Hoyle state, and this in turn would affect the production of carbon and oxygen in such a way that life as we know it wouldn’t exist.
    “The Hoyle state of carbon is key,” Lee says. “If the Hoyle state energy was at 479 keV [479,000 electron volts] or more above the three alpha particles [helium-4 nuclei], then the amount of carbon produced would be too low for carbon-based life. “The same holds true for oxygen,” he adds. “If the Hoyle state energy were instead within 279 keV of the three alphas, then there would be plenty of carbon. But the stars would burn their helium into carbon much earlier in their life cycle. As a consequence, the stars would not be hot enough to produce sufficient oxygen for life. In our lattice simulations, we find that more than a 2 or 3 percent change in the light quark mass would lead to problems with the abundance of either carbon or oxygen in the universe.”

    Hoyle also stated:

    “I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars.”
    Sir Fred Hoyle – “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12

    In fact, all the element heavier that hydrogen and helium were forged by nucleosynthesis in stars,,,

    The Elements: Forged in Stars – video

    Even uranium the last naturally occurring ‘stable’ element on the period table of elements is necessary for life. The heat generated by the decay of uranium is necessary to keep a molten core in the earth for an extended period of time, which is necessary for the magnetic field surrounding the earth, which in turn protects organic life from the harmful charged particles of the sun. As well, uranium decay provides the heat for tectonic activity and the turnover of the earth’s crustal rocks, which is necessary to keep a proper mixture of minerals and nutrients available on the surface of the earth, which is necessary for long term life on earth. (Denton; Nature’s Destiny).

    And although every ‘class’ of elements, though not specifically every element, that exists on the periodic table of elements is directly necessary for complex carbon-based life to exist on earth (or in the universe),,,

    Periodic Table – Role of elements in life processes – Interactive web page for each element with description of if and how they are necessary for life

    which is certainly a remarkable ‘coincidence’ in and of itself, it also turns out that the three most abundant elements in the human body, Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, ‘just so happen’ to also be the most abundant elements in the universe, (save for helium which is inert). A truly amazing coincidence that strongly implies ‘the universe had us in mind all along’. Moreover, the finely tuned balance at which these elements react with each other and with other elements to enable life is truly a wonder to behold. Michael Denton speaks a little on that remarkable balance with which the react here

    Michael Denton – We Are Stardust – Uncanny Balance Of The Elements – Atheist Fred Hoyle’s conversion to a Deist/Theist – video

    A few more remarkable ‘coincidences’ in the way in which these elements interact with other to allow carbon based life to exist are revealed in this following talk Dr. Denton gave on the subject:

    “Dr. Michael Denton on Evidence of Fine-Tuning in the Universe” (Remarkable balance of various key elements for life)- podcast

    Here is a fairly recent peer-reviewed paper that Dr. Denton published on the subject in which he further refines the ‘coincidences’ to reveal that the elements interact in a such a way that is “fit specifically for warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms such as ourselves.”:

    The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis – Michael J. Denton – February 25, 2013
    Summary (page 11)
    Many of the properties of the key members of Henderson’s vital ensemble —water, oxygen, CO2, HCO3 —are in several instances fit specifically for warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms such as ourselves. These include the thermal properties of water, its low viscosity, the gaseous nature of oxygen and CO2 at ambient temperatures, the inertness of oxygen at ambient temperatures, and the bicarbonate buffer, with its anomalous pKa value and the elegant means of acid-base regulation it provides for air-breathing organisms. Some of their properties are irrelevant to other classes of organisms or even maladaptive.
    It is very hard to believe there could be a similar suite of fitness for advanced carbon-based life forms. If carbon-based life is all there is, as seems likely, then the design of any active complex terrestrial being would have to closely resemble our own. Indeed the suite of properties of water, oxygen, and CO2 together impose such severe constraints on the design and functioning of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems that their design, even down to the details of capillary and alveolar structure can be inferred from first principles. For complex beings of high metabolic rate, the designs actualized in complex Terran forms are all that can be. There are no alternative physiological designs in the domain of carbon-based life that can achieve the high metabolic activity manifest in man and other higher organisms.

    Verse and Music:

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

    Coldplay – Yellow (The Stars Shine For you)

  2. 2
    Jaceli123 says:

    Hi @bornagain77 is wd400 a darwinist ?I just joined this site and I’m not sure who’s a materialist and darwinist or a ID proponent?

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    supplemental note:

    Michael Denton: Remarkable Coincidences in Photosynthesis

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    is wd400 a darwinist ?

    As far as I know, he fights tooth and nail defending neo-Darwinism. Although I don’t recall ever reading what his specific metaphysical view was. Perhaps he can expand on it.

  5. 5
    Jaceli123 says:

    Thanks @bornagain77 and Nick fell silent earlier today after four people commented on his ignorant acts just found this site and just from his comments I could see his hate towards the ID community!!

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Yeah poor Nick, quite a few people on UD were finally cluing in heavily on his game and were starting to take him apart on the many inconsistencies in his arguments. It was starting to get really entertaining to watch the one sided exchanges in my book. It is usual for him to duck out of a debate when its gets to heavy for him hear on UD, but this time he stayed in the debate far longer than usual and, in my opinion, payed a heavy price for it.

  7. 7
    wd400 says:


    I’m an evolutionary biologists. I wouldn’t call myself a Darwinist as I don’t tend to emphasise selection as the only or major mechanism of evolutionary change.

    My metaphysical beliefs are my own, which is why I only really speak here about science around here.

  8. 8
    Jaceli123 says:

    Thanks wd400 its nice to know what others believe apreciate your response!

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    wd400, do believe evolution was guided or not? Or is that too personal for you?

    Oh Come, Emmanuel – Lindsey Stirling & Kuha’o Case – video

    Silent Night – Lindsey Stirling

  10. 10
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Yeah poor Nick, quite a few people on UD were finally cluing in heavily on his game and were starting to take him apart on the many inconsistencies in his arguments. It was starting to get really entertaining to watch the one sided exchanges in my book. It is usual for him to duck out of a debate when its gets to heavy for him hear on UD, but this time he stayed in the debate far longer than usual and, in my opinion, payed a heavy price for it.

    Now, *that’s* a straight up lie. I left because Barry wouldn’t post my reply, and you know it. So much for Christian principles I guess.

  11. 11
    Dimitri44 says:

    Hurricanes are unlikely in Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire (sang Marni Nixon for Audrey Hepburn) and they are also unlikely to mutate a junkyard into a Boeing 747. Thus, if some are trying to explain Miss Audrey Hepburn as a mutation, perhaps they have been seeing too many Boris Karloff movies.

  12. 12
    TSErik says:

    Now, *that’s* a straight up lie. I left because Barry wouldn’t post my reply, and you know it.

    And yet, here you are.

    Simply because you say it, doesn’t make it so, Nickie-boy. It’s fairly evident to those who read the exchange. Your replies that over-and-over move goalposts, attempt to change meanings, equivocate, say all that is needed to be said.

    So much for Christian principles I guess.

    HAH! This really shows that you are completely vapid. It’s a tactic I’ve always pointed out before as used by the pathetic, arrogant sophomore who thinks he’s just discovered the ultimate “gotcha” for religion/Christians.

    I must have missed the part of “The New Testament” where Christ urged people to suffer liars on message boards.

    How pathetic are you to hold others to a standard of which you do not hold yourself? Your posts are rank with insults and condescension, and lies. YET, the moment others defend themselves, you whine and cry like a petulant child for civility.

    What a coward.

    But don’t worry Nickie-boy, I’ve already sent out your exchanges to quite a few hungry eyes and there are many, many more. Your side of the story will be read, though you probably shouldn’t relish that thought. Perhaps even future employers would love to see how you conduct yourself.

    Remember, Nickie-boy, even Christ kicked the collective asses of the money changers when it was needed.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    NickMatzke_UD states:

    Now, *that’s* a straight up lie. I left because Barry wouldn’t post my replyTHE LIES I WROTE INSTEAD OF THE APOLOGY THAT I OWED TO BARRY FOR ACCUSING HIM OF LYING (Quote Mining),

    I guess you might be right Nickie, and much like your sentence, I stand corrected and I apologize.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Dr. Craig was on FOX News recently:

    How can I be sure God exists? – video
    William Lane Craig explains his mission to defend Christianity from skeptics and nonbelievers

  15. 15
    selvaRajan says:

    Why does it matter whether Fred Hoyle was creationist or not? He can’t defend himself against slotting him into any of the categories.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    NickMatzke_UD as to your comment:

    *that’s* a straight up lie

    I have been amused over the past few days to see what constitutes a ‘lie’ in you definition of things. It seems Nick that you, in your personal definition of a lie, have taken the liberty of saying that a lie just so happens to be whatever you decide it to be. This ‘personal Matzke truth’ point was brought home to me in your exchange with Mr. Arrington:

    Nick Matzke Admits His Quote Mining Accusation Was False; Instead of Apologizing Tries to Change the Definition of “Quote Mining” to “Refusing to Agree With Me”
    Excerpt: Now we get to the bottom of it. It is not that I misquoted Eldredge. My quote was perfectly accurate. Nick just disagrees with Eldredge on the point for which I quoted him, and under his personal definition of the term that makes me guilty of quote mining.

    Nick, you don’t get to have a personal definition of phrases. “Quote mining” has a universally accepted meaning.

    Nick, you don’t get to define what truth is and what it is not! Perhaps this point, the point that you do not get to define what truth is, which is obvious to me, is not so obvious to you because you actually believe the myth that is floating around on college campuses that ‘truth is relative’ i.e. what is true for you is not necessarily true for me (this ‘myth’ was briefly highlighted in the Dr. Craig video I just listed in post 14). This ‘relative truth’ position which I believe you hold, in which a person is free to define for themselves their own personal definition of truth, is further brought out in the evidences you have listed for evolution. For instance, I’ve seen you use Cladistic analysis (drawing lines and arrows on paper) to try to say that the Cambrian Explosion is not nearly as enigmatic as Meyer, Valentine, and numerous others in the field, hold it to be. But Cladistic analysis, as Dr. Berlinski has shown in this following article addressing your claims in this area, is more than ripe for abuse by this ‘relative truth’, (i.e. truth is whatever I define it to be), that you seem to be afflicted with:

    A One-Man Clade – David Berlinski – July 18, 2013

    Just because you can draw lines and arrows on a paper, Nick, does not make your imaginary claims for non-existent Cambrian relationships true. Nor does it give you the right to disparage, and ridicule, anyone who disagrees with you just because they disagree with ‘your truth’ as you, and other Darwinists have defined it to be for yourselves. Isn’t tolerance suppose to be a cornerstone of ‘relative truth’ anyway?
    This same personal definition of truth that you employ, that is impervious to critique in your mind, can also be found in sequence comparisons that you hold ‘statistically’ prove that evolution is true beyond any doubt, but, regardless of what you personally think, such a high level of confirmation (i.e. mathematical proof) for Darwinian evolution is far from being within your grasp. You simply have no falsification criteria to appeal to within math in order to make such a claim for ‘proof’ for Darwinism much less do you have a ‘statistical threshold’ for inferring as such:

    Does Natural Selection Leave “Detectable Statistical Evidence in the Genome”? – Casey Luskin August 7, 2013
    Excerpt: These statistical methods that Matzke cites not only don’t demonstrate that selection has occurred, but they also do not demonstrate that stepwise evolutionary pathways are available. For that, experiments are needed. Matzke can call us “juvenile” all he wants, but the fact is, beyond a lot of hand-waving and name-calling, he has not provided an adequate account of how new genes might arise.

    The Mystery of Extreme Non-Coding Conservation – No Plausible Speculations – Cornelius Hunter – Nov. 2013
    Excerpt:”… despite 10 years of research, there has been virtually no progress towards answering the question of the origin of these patterns of extreme conservation. A number of hypotheses have been proposed, but most rely on modes of DNA : protein interactions that have never been observed and seem dubious at best. As a consequence, not only do we still lack a plausible mechanism for the conservation of CNEs—we lack even plausible speculations.

    Oxford University Seeks Mathemagician — May 5th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Grand theories in physics are usually expressed in mathematics. Newton’s mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity are essentially equations. Words are needed only to interpret the terms. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has obstinately remained in words since 1859. …

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.” Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

    “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’” Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) –

    Macroevolution, microevolution and chemistry: the devil is in the details – Dr. V. J. Torley – February 27, 2013
    Excerpt: If Matzke wishes to take this road, then he is tacitly admitting that scientists don’t yet know either the scientific laws (which are written in the language of mathematics) or the physical processes that ultimately explain and drive macroevolution. But if they don’t know either of these, then I would ask him: why should we believe that it actually occurs? After all, mathematics, scientific laws and observed processes are supposed to form the basis of all scientific explanation. If none of these provides support for Darwinian macroevolution, then why on earth should we accept it? Indeed, why does macroevolution belong in the province of science at all, if its scientific basis cannot be demonstrated?

    Querius also touched upon this ‘flexible’ way in which you handle truth here in a reply to a quote you supplied by Gould,

    Gould apparently grumbles:

    Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.


    So, we can find transitional forms between chihuahuas and bears, but not between whales and other whales or dolphins or porpoises?

    So, every species (ok, genus) is a shot-in-the-dark punctuated miracle?

    Polar bear -> *POOF* -> blue whale
    Raccoon -> *POOF* -> porpoise

    Yeah, right.


    It is hilarious that you (and Gould) decided to take it upon yourselves to define what transitions we are allowed to consider in the fossil record and which ones we are not allowed to consider. i.e. You, despite what you may have been taught on college campuses, DO NOT get to define what truth actually is. The actual ‘truth’, not Matzke’s personal relative truth that he defines himself, is that since we find stasis at the lower levels of the fossil record, then that fact, by all rights, gives us reason to believe that that exponentially exasperates the problem at higher levels, as is clearly evident in the Cambrian explosion:

    “Darwin had a lot of trouble with the fossil record because if you look at the record of phyla in the rocks as fossils why when they first appear we already see them all. The phyla are fully formed. It’s as if the phyla were created first and they were modified into classes and we see that the number of classes peak later than the number of phyla and the number of orders peak later than that. So it’s kind of a top down succession, you start with this basic body plans, the phyla, and you diversify them into classes, the major sub-divisions of the phyla, and these into orders and so on. So the fossil record is kind of backwards from what you would expect from in that sense from what you would expect from Darwin’s ideas.”
    James W. Valentine – as quoted from “On the Origin of Phyla: Interviews with James W. Valentine” – video – quoted from circa mid 2000’s

    Now Nick, there are also many instances of ‘literature bluffing’ from you,,

    ‘literature bluffing’ cases from you in which I cannot be as charitable towards you, as with the examples I just listed, and say that you were merely being ‘flexible’ with your personal definition of the truth, but I must hold that you were being deliberately deceitful in trying to mislead people. I simply cannot find any way that such large scale, and repeated, ‘literature bluffing’ is excusable for you. But alas, it is your credibility that has been ruined, and apparently it matters little to you since you still try to literature bluff to this day, as is evident in the recent attempt of yours to say (literature bluff) that material processes have been observed generating non-trivial functional information:

    Hopeless Matzke -David Berlinski & Tyler Hampton August 18, 2013

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