The subsequent biographical details are mainly taken from Hoimar
von Ditfurth's books Innenansichten eines Artgenossen (A same
type man's insight view - Reflections by a Member of the Species -
his autobiography) and Das Gespräch (The Conversation - his
last TV interview).
Hoimar Gerhard Friedrich Ernst von Ditfurth was born on October
15, 1921 in Berlin (Charlottenburg). He originated from the family
of the national conservative Prussian cavalry captain (Rittmeister)
and later classical scholar Hans-Otto von Ditfurth. Until his first
day in school in Potsdam, Hoimar von Ditfurth lived in Berlin and
1949 he married Heilwig von Raven.
Together they had four children: Jutta (*1951), Wolf-Christian
(*1953), Donata-Friederike (*1956) and York-Alexander (*1957).
Hoimar von Ditfurth died on November 1, 1989 in Freiburg/Breisgau of
a thymom (cancer of the thymus gland). He is buried in Staufen.
1939 Hoimar von Ditfurth graduated from the Victoria-Gymnasium
(college) in Potsdam. Afterwards he studied medicine, psychology and
philosophy at the universities of Berlin and Hamburg, where he
attained his Ph. D. in medicine in July 1946.
Between 1948 and 1960 Hoimar von Ditfurth worked at the
university hospital in Würzburg (in the end as senior physician).
1959 he qualified himself as a university lecturer there and became
outside lecturer for psychiatry and neurology. 1967 and 1968 he was
appointed associate professor of the medical faculty at the
universities of Würzburg and Heidelberg.1960 Hoimar von Ditfurth
took a job in the pharmaceutical company C. F. Boehringer in
Mannheim, where he managed the "Psycho Lab" being
responsible for the development and clinical testing of psycho
Although Hoimar von Ditfurth was offered a position in the board of
executives, he left Boehringer in 1969 ("...I don't want to
sacrifice my intellectual independence...") and became a
freelance lecturer, publisher, author and one of the most
distinctive science journalists in Germany.
Hoimar von Ditfurth's popularity in Germany is based on numerous
articles in newspapers, radio broadcasts (between 1963 and 1983),
and TV shows (between 1971 and 1983) with various popular scientific
1970 his first book, Children of the Universe (= Kinder des Weltalls),
was published. This and his following books made him the most
competent and best selling scientific writer in Germany. Many of his
books were translated into other languages.
He also was editor and publisher of miscellaneous scientific
magazines, publications and samplers, to which many famous national
and international scientists provided contributions.
Between 1971 and 1983 Hoimar von Ditfurth hosted the popular TV
science show Querschnitte (= cross-sections) in which he
showed his extraordinary talent to make complex scientific contents
understandable to a broad audience.
One of his major targets always was to position natural science
equally besides arts science which he thought is overrated in the
western cultural society.
He was also a committed and eloquent fighter against all kinds of
superstition and obscure "pseudo science".
link to the articles by Hoimar von Ditfurth (German version)
Starting in the late 70s, Hoimar von Ditfurth concentrated more
and more on ecological subjects. He became a critic of the western
"credo in progress and economical growth". Even though he
proclaimed that mankind would destroy itself by environmental
pollution and destruction, overpopulation and (nuclear) armament, he
never was a fatalist. He always maintained his hope and true
Hoimar von Ditfurth was a committed pacifist.
In the 80s he supported the German Green Party during their election
campaigns, but without getting involved in political activism and
always keeping a critical distance to extreme ideological positions.
Awards & Prizes
Hoimar von Ditfurth was a member of the German
PEN-Center and holder of numerous national and international
awards and prizes.
1978 he received the UNESCO UNESCO
Kalinga-Prize for his lifetime achievements as author and
CHILDREN OF THE UNIVERSE
With the discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus men lost the
illusion of a friendly universe. The conviction that we are isolated
in the boundless emptiness of space has had consequences far more
radical than anyone could have foreseen.
Scientists are now discovering that such a view is false. New
findings are revolutionising our understanding of the universe and
with reviting clarity Hoimar von Ditfurth argues that until recently
we misinterpreted many of the discoveries of science. Suddenly a new
vision of the universe is emerging. The universe is not a cold or
hostile void. Instead, the earth is a focal point where intricate
forces have come together and spun the web of life.
Astronomy and space exploration have disclosed a hitherto
unknown, invisible net of connections between life on earth and in
the debths of the universe. Von Ditfurth vividly discusses and
lucidly describes not only fascinating facets of galactic
architecture such as the nature of time, the size of the universe,
the influence of the moon and the birth and death of stars, but also
the beginnings of life on earth and the dramatic shifts in human
Children of the Universe is set in the landscape of Genesis. It
is no lesser tale than the tale of our existence. In Germany it
topped the bestseller list for months. It has been translated into
* * *
THE ORIGINS OF LIFE - EVOLUTION AS CREATION
A #1 bestseller in Germany (over 200.000 copies sold), The
Origins of Life offers a stimulating, visionary account of the
evolution of life fully compatible with a theory of creation - all
presented in the tradition of Lewis Thomas, Konrad Lorenz, Loren
Eiseley. Hoimar von Ditfurth, a distinguished German scientist,
guides us surely and compellingly from cosmic genesis to a
brilliantly articulated glimpse of a distant future an a dimension
beyond the material world.
The Origins of Life opens with a lucid, fascinating explanation
of evolutionary process - not only in biology, but in molecular
physics, astronomy, and other fields - to outline the path from
primal amino acids to human beings. Ditfurth demonstrates how the
scientific theory of evolution is unimpeachable and essential to how
the whole of modern science operates. But he simultaneously points
out that the deeper science probes the nature of things - subatomic
particles to the end of the cosmos - the more it discovers a
dimension of spirit or mystery beyond matter and scientific
The Origins of Life goes right to the heart of the
creation/evolution controversy to show that fundamentalists who
reject evolution out of hand are as misguided as scientists who
think a purely materialistic account of life's source and purpose is
sufficient. Countering these limited views, Ditfurth offers a
brilliant picture of the richness of reality that far outstrips
current models. His exciting ideas suggest that evolution may be
creation seen from a limited human perspective; in the unfolding
process of the universe, he detects an "inner wisdom" that suggests
science and religion may simply be using different vocabularies to
express identical truths.
Ditfurth skillfully translates complex ideas and unfamiliar
notions into clear, everyday language, yet never reduces his
material to simplistic terms. Beautifully written, The Origins of
Life reminds us forcefully of the limitations of dogmatic
explanantions, while it celebrates the infinite possibilities of the
universe. In creatively reconciling apparent contradictions between
religion and science, The Origins of Life argues convincingly that
both must contribute to answering the basic questions of the nature
of the universe and our place in the scheme of things.
Reader's comments in English:
I think this is perhaps one of the best synthesis between the
two theories that I have read. Ditfurth points out theological
problems with the Creationists, and says that Christians should be
amazed that the miracle of evolution occurred, rather than claiming
that "God is what we don't know".
[David W. Ussery, Associate Professor,
The Technical University of Denmark]
Those who give serious attention to the ideas presented in the
volume will be challenged to view science and religion in a new and
creative way. The book is well worth reading, despite the uneven
style of writing.
[Richard W. Berry,
San Diego State University]
The author's conclusion that we as humans are possibly all
taking part in the creation might appear somewhat bold, but is in no
way far fetched. The book offers an extremely valuable survey of
different thoughts about the subject of reconciling science with
religion, starting with Plato's Allegory of the Cave, and it
gradually becomes very clear that science and religion as well as
creation and evolution have in no way to be conflicting concepts.
One of the more prominent topics treated in this book is the fact,
that by definition, the scope of natural science is limited to the
study of physical phenomena - a fact which scientists are too eager
to forget when disregarding spiritual phenomena on the ground that
they are not 'scientifically provable'. Some thoughts about
evolution are included, one being a critical look at the notion that
mankind is the 'end product' of evolution - we should rather regard
ourselves as an intermediate product, flawed and far from perfect. A
further comment regarding evolution is the observation that all
physical constants seem to be tailor-made for evolution to have to
occur - if one of the constants would be slightly different,
evolution would not be able to take place at all. Generally, the
thoughts are presented in a very systematic way, and the book is
written in a beautiful style.
[found on amazon.com]
* * *
A comment to "So lasst uns denn ein Apfelbaeumchen pflanzen"
(Now, let's plant a little apple tree):
Hoimar von Ditfurth is a Neurologist and Scientist that really
knows how to write. He is easily in the same category as Carl Sagan.
Unfortunately, he died November 1st 1989. The book is a serious
showdown of the State of the Planet Earth and its possible end.
Ditfurth shows that the planet is out of balance and squeaks. The
political errors created by the different ruling societies and the
ecological problems created by humans threaten to literally blow-up
the entire globe. Our arrogant and egocentric omnipotence might as
well be our own death sentence. But there is hope. "So let us plant
a little Apple Tree" is the translation of the title of this great
found on amazon.com]
* * *
Hoimar von Ditfurth died on November 1, 1989.