Humanists mourn Sir John Maddox (1925-2009), Distinguished Supporter of the BHA

14 April, 2009

The BHA is sorry to learn of the death, on 12 April, of Sir John Maddox, physicist, science writer and distinguished supporter of Humanism

Sir John Royden Maddox was born 27 November 1925 in Penllergaer, Swansea, Wales. He studied chemistry and physics at Oxford University and King’s College London and lectured in theoretical physics, he was science correspondent at the Manchester Guardian, coordinator of the Nuffield Science Teaching Project, director of Nuffield Foundation and editor of the science journal Nature for 22 years. He served on a number of Royal Commissions on environmental pollution and genetic manipulation. His books include Revolution in Biology, The Doomsday Syndrome, Beyond the Energy Crisis, and What Remains to be Discovered: The Agenda for Science in the Next Century.

Sir John was knighted in 1995 and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society in 2000. He was a trustee of Sense About Science and an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Association as well as a distinguished supporter of the BHA.

He said: “My guess is that if the question of human extinction is ever posed clearly, people will say that it’s all very well to say we’ve been a part of nature up to now, but at that turning point in the human race’s history, it is surely essential that we do something about it; that we fix the genome, to get rid of the disease that’s causing the instability, if necessary we clone people known to be free from the risk, because that’s the only way in which we can keep the human race alive. A still, small voice may at that stage ask, but what right does the human race have to claim precedence for itself. To which my guess is the full-throated answer would be, sorry, the human race has taken a decision, and that decision is to survive.” Read the full interview here.

See also

  • Obituary in The Telegraph here.
  • Obituary in The Guardian here.
  • His wikipedia entry here.