Greg Graffin, leader of the punk band Bad Religion, explains how he came to work with Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson in an interview at Seed Magazine:
You’ve mentioned before that you’ve corresponded with luminaries in your field like E.O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins—
Yeah, I met Richard Dawkins at his house in Oxford specifically to talk about my PhD project on evolution and religion. He was very kind, and he admired a portion of my work that helped clarify evolutionists’ philosophical beliefs. Likewise, E. O. Wilson was involved in my PhD study—he clarified his own philosophical stance in my dissertation. Essentially, I wanted to round up the best minds of this generation, to see what the prevailing views about evolution and religion were— and all of them were quite divided about whether the two were compatible. Darwin was the original interpreter, and he believed there was no compatibility between the two; he could not see how one could get behind religion. So I chose to survey various opinions.
Do elements of those ideas and conversations ever slip into your music?
Mostly, Dawkins’ and Wilson’s writings helped me form my evolutionary worldview—but they’re only a couple elements of my total evolutionary education. In addition to Dawkins, I met with Ernst Mayr, George C. Williams, John Maynard Smith, Richard Lewontin, and Tom Eisner. With such a privileged experience, it’s impossible to keep my music writing free of [their] ideas. Melding my experience in science with songwriting has helped Bad Religion remain viable and vital without becoming stale and boring, as any band of our age rightly should become!