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Hoimar von Ditfurth

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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 Lensahn.
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 drugs.
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.

Publishing Activities

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 subjects.
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".


A direct link to the articles by Hoimar von Ditfurth (German version)

Ecological Engagement

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 humanistic approach.
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 publisher.



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 evolution.

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 many languages.

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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 measurement.

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]

* * *

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 book.

[Eric Jucker,
found on]

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Kinder des Weltalls
(Children of the Universe)
Children of the Universe; The Tale of Our Existence

A German scientific journalist explores how we and our planet are made of the same raw material as the stars and the implications for intelligent life lurking in the universe.

Book Review


Im Anfang war der Wasserstoff
(In the beginning was hydrogen)
Im Anfang war der Wasserstoff

The book begins with a focus on evolution as a biological means for the creation of life in its present form. The author goes on to expand his treatment of evolution to explain the creation of the cosmos and to speculate beyond our present knowledge of the universe.


Der Geist fiel nicht vom Himmel
(The mind did not come out of the blue skies)
Der Geist fiel nicht vom Himmel : d. Evolution unseres Bewusstseins


Wir sind nicht nur von dieser Welt
(We are not only of this world)
The Origins of Life : Evolution As Creation

Book Review


So laßt uns denn ein Apfelbäumchen pflanzen
(And now, let's plant a little apple tree)
So lasst uns denn ein Apfelbaeumchen pflanzen


Unbegreifliche Realität
(Incredible reality)


Innenansichten eines Artgenossen
(A same type man's insight view - Reflections by a Member of the Species - his autobiography)





Unpublished works


Das Erbe des Neandertalers
(Neanderthal man's heritage)


Die Sterne leuchten, auch wenn wir sie nicht sehen
(Stars shine even if we don't see them)


Die Wirklichkeit des Homo sapiens
(The reality of the homo sapiens)




Other works available through

  Neue Horizonte 92/93 : ein Forum der Naturwissenschaften : als Mannheimer Forum begrèundet von Hoimar v. Ditfurth
by Hoimar von Ditfurth 
  Innenansichten eines Artgenossen : meine Bilanz
by Hoimar von Ditfurth 
  Die Sterne Leuchten, auch wenn wir sie nicht sehen : èuber Wissenschaft, Politik und Religion
by Hoimar von Ditfurth 
  Dimensionen des Lebens : Reportagen aus der Naturwissenschaft : nach der Fernsehreihe "Querschnitt"
by Hoimar von Ditfurth 
  Wir sind nicht nur von dieser Welt : Naturwissenschaft, Religion und die Zukunft des Menschen
by Hoimar von Ditfurth 


Das Gespräch
(The conversation)
Das Gesprèach

The transcript of an interview with Hoimar von Ditfurth conducted by Dieter Zilligen. A great summary of HvD's theories and main reflections.



Articles by Hoimar von Ditfurth

A direct link to the articles
by Hoimar von Ditfurth (German version)

Contact Information

Hoimar von Ditfurth died on November 1, 1989.

  • His website link and URL: