Humanist profile: Douglas Adams (1952-2001).
"I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day"
--Douglas Adams, American Atheist Volume 37 No. I
Douglas Noel Adams was born on March 1 I, 1952, in Cambridge, England. A writer, comic radio dramatist, and environmental activist, Adams is best known for the classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which found its start as a radio program and was later developed into a book, television, and comic book comic book
Bound collection of comic strips, usually in chronological sequence, typically telling a single story or a series of different stories. The first true comic books were marketed in 1933 as giveaway advertising premiums. series, several stage adaptations, a record album, a computer game, and a feature film.
Adams had an early interest in the arts, specializing in art at the Brentwood Preparatory School preparatory school: see school.
School that prepares students for entrance to a higher school. In Europe, where secondary education has been selective, preparatory schools have been those that catered to pupils wishing to enter . While there Adams was awarded the only perfect score his teacher had ever given on a creative writing assignment, an accomplishment that motivated Adams throughout his life. He later attended St. John's College in Cambridge, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in English.
After school, his first major break came when be was discovered by Graham Chapman Dr. Graham Arthur Chapman (January 8, 1941 – October 4, 1989) was an English comedian, actor, writer, physician and one of the six members of the Monty Python comedy troupe. of Monty Python Monty Python('s Flying Circus)
British comedy troupe. The innovative group, formed in the early 1960s, came to prominence in the 1970s, first on television and later in films. , earning Adams writing credits for several sketches on Monty Python's Flying Circus Monty Python’s Flying Circus
ingenious, satiric show that uses both live action and animation. [Br. and Am. TV: Terrace, II, 108]
See : Zaniness and a sketch on the album for Monty Python anal the Holy Grail.
Despite that success, Adams found larger fame with The Hitchhiker's Guide, which started as a weekly radio series on BBC BBC
in full British Broadcasting Corp.
Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927. Radio 4 in 1978. The radio program was wildly popular and was later developed into a five-book series--selling more than fifteen million copies--including The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, The Universe and Everything; So long, and Thanks For All the Fish; and Mostly Harmless. Adams was awarded a Golden Pan for The Hitchhiker's Guide in 1984, the youngest author to receive the award. He was later awarded two additional Golden Pans and was nominated for a Best of Young British Novelists award.
Adams proclaimed himself a "radical atheist," explaining that the use of the term "radical" was meant to clarify that he wasn't agnostic and that he had thought quite seriously about his views. Though he was a committed Christian in his youth, Adams came to question his religious beliefs when studying the sciences as a teenager. Several years later Adams was introduced to evolutionary biology Evolutionary biology is a sub-field of biology concerned with the origin and descent of species, as well as their change, multiplication, and diversity over time. through Richard Dawkins's books The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker, to which Adams credits his conversion to atheism atheism (ā`thē-ĭz'əm), denial of the existence of God or gods and of any supernatural existence, to be distinguished from agnosticism, which holds that the existence cannot be proved. . (The two later became good friends and Dawkins dedicated his most recent book, The God Delusion, to Adams).
Though Adams was an atheist, he remained fascinated by religion. In an interview with American Atheist magazine he said, "[Religion] has had such an incalculably huge effect on human affairs. What is it? What does it represent? Why have we invented it? How does it keep going? What will become of it? I love to keep poking and prodding at it. I've thought about it so much over the years, that fascination is bound to spill over Verb 1. spill over - overflow with a certain feeling; "The children bubbled over with joy"; "My boss was bubbling over with anger"
bubble over, overflow
seethe, boil - be in an agitated emotional state; "The customer was seething with anger"
2. into my writing."
Adams is also known for his environmental activism and, particularly, his devotion to raising awareness about various endangered species endangered species, any plant or animal species whose ability to survive and reproduce has been jeopardized by human activities. In 1999 the U.S. government, in accordance with the U.S. . In addition to lecturing widely on the topic, in 1990 Adams teamed up with zoologist Mark Carwardine to write Last Chance to See, an account of a search for rare and endangered species. Adams often said that the project was one of his favorites.
Adams suffered a heart attack and died on May 11, 2001 at the age of forty-nine. A collection of his essays, including the interview with American Atheist, was published posthumously in 2002 under the title The Salmon of Doubt.
Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. Free of supernaturalism su·per·nat·u·ral·ism
1. The quality of being supernatural.
2. Belief in a supernatural agency that intervenes in the course of natural laws. , humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.