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George F. R. Ellis is Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town who has investigated whether or not there was a start to the universe, if there is one universe or many, the evolution of complexity, and the functioning of the human mind, as well as the intersection of these issues with areas beyond the boundaries of science.

Ellis has advocated balancing the rationality of evidence-based science with faith and hope, a view shaped in part by his firsthand experiences in South Africa as it peacefully transformed from apartheid to multi-racial democracy without succumbing to racial civil war.  Ellis describes that history as a “confounding of the calculus of reality” that can only be explained as the causal effect of forces beyond the explanation of hard science, including issues such as aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and meaning.


Ethics is causally effective and provides the highest level of values that set human goals and choices. Consequently a crucial issue is the origin of ethics, on the one hand, and the nature of ethics, on the other. I am a moral realist, that is, I believe that we discover the true nature of ethics rather than inventing it. Indeed it is only if ethics is of this nature that it has a truly moral character, that is, it represents a guiding light that we ought to obey.