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Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941) is a British
evolutionary biologist Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology that studies the evolutionary processes (natural selection, common descent, speciation) that produced the diversity of life on Earth. It is also defined as the study of the history of life form ...
and author. He is an emeritus fellow of
New College, Oxford New College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham in conjunction with Winchester College as its feeder school, New College is one of the oldest colleges at ...
and was Professor for Public Understanding of Science in the
University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in contin ...
from 1995 to 2008. An
atheist Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there no ...
, he is well known for his criticism of
creationism Creationism is the religious belief that nature, and aspects such as the universe, Earth, life, and humans, originated with supernatural acts of divine creation. Gunn 2004, p. 9, "The ''Concise Oxford Dictionary'' says that creationism is 'th ...
and
intelligent design Intelligent design (ID) is a pseudoscientific argument for the existence of God, presented by its proponents as "an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins". Numbers 2006, p. 373; " Dcaptured headlines for its bold attempt to ...
. Dawkins first came to prominence with his 1976 book ''
The Selfish Gene ''The Selfish Gene'' is a 1976 book on evolution by the ethologist Richard Dawkins, in which the author builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams's '' Adaptation and Natural Selection'' (1966). Dawkins uses the term "selfish g ...
'', which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term ''
meme A meme ( ) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ...
''. With his book ''
The Extended Phenotype ''The Extended Phenotype'' is a 1982 book by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in which the author introduced a biological concept of the same name. The main idea is that phenotype should not be ''limited'' to biological processes suc ...
'' (1982), he introduced into evolutionary biology the influential concept that the
phenotypic In genetics, the phenotype () is the set of observable characteristics or traits of an organism. The term covers the organism's morphology or physical form and structure, its developmental processes, its biochemical and physiological prop ...
effects of a
gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "... Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian units of heredity..." meaning ''generation'' or ''birth'' or ''gender'') can have several different meanings. The Mendelian gene is a ...
are not necessarily limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment, for example, when a
beaver Beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents in the genus ''Castor'' native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere. There are two extant species: the North American beaver (''Castor canadensis'') and the Eurasian beaver (''C. fiber''). Beavers ...
builds a
dam A dam is a barrier that stops or restricts the flow of surface water or underground streams. Reservoirs created by dams not only suppress floods but also provide water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, ...
. His 2004
The Ancestor's Tale ''The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life'' is a science book by Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong on the subject of evolution, which follows the path of humans backwards through evolutionary history, describing some of humanity's c ...
set out to make understanding evolution simple for the general public, by tracing common ancestors back from humans to the origins of life. Over time, numerous religious people challenged the science of evolution during Dawkins's lectures, and in print. In response, Dawkins wrote ''
The Blind Watchmaker ''The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design'' is a 1986 book by Richard Dawkins, in which the author presents an explanation of, and argument for, the theory of evolution by means of natural select ...
'' in 1986, arguing against the
watchmaker analogy The watchmaker analogy or watchmaker argument is a teleological argument which states, by way of an analogy, that a design implies a designer, especially intelligent design by an intelligent designer, i.e. a creator deity. The watchmaker analog ...
, an argument for the existence of a supernatural creator based upon the complexity of living organisms. Instead, he describes evolutionary processes as analogous to a ''blind'' watchmaker, in that
reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organisms – " offspring" – are produced from their "parent" or parents. Reproduction is a fundamental feature of all known life; each individual ...
,
mutation In biology, a mutation is an alteration in the nucleic acid sequence of the genome of an organism, virus, or extrachromosomal DNA. Viral genomes contain either DNA or RNA. Mutations result from errors during DNA or viral replication, ...
, and
selection Selection may refer to: Science * Selection (biology), also called natural selection, selection in evolution ** Sex selection, in genetics ** Mate selection, in mating ** Sexual selection in humans, in human sexuality ** Human mating strat ...
are unguided by any sentient designer. The debate intensified, and Dawkins's atheist stances grew to attract significant controversy and antagonism. In 2006, Dawkins founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, and published '' The God Delusion'', contending that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a
delusion A delusion is a false fixed belief that is not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, hallucination, or so ...
. In 2011 he co-founded The Clergy Project. Dawkins has won academic and writing awards, and he makes television, radio, and internet appearances, predominantly discussing his books, atheism, and his ideas and opinions as a
public intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection about the reality of society, and who proposes solutions for the normative problems of society. Coming from the world of culture, either as a creator or ...
.


Background


Early life

Clinton Richard Dawkins was born on 26 March 1941 in
Nairobi Nairobi ( ) is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The name is derived from the Maasai phrase ''Enkare Nairobi'', which translates to "place of cool waters", a reference to the Nairobi River which flows through the city. The city prope ...
, the capital of Kenya during British colonial rule. Dawkins later dropped Clinton from his name by
deed poll A deed poll (plural: deeds poll) is a legal document binding on a single person or several persons acting jointly to express an intention or create an obligation. It is a deed, and not a contract because it binds only one party. Etymology The ...
. He is the son of Jean Mary Vyvyan (''née'' Ladner; 1916–2019) and Clinton John Dawkins (1915–2010), an agricultural civil servant in the British Colonial Service in
Nyasaland Nyasaland () was a British protectorate located in Africa that was established in 1907 when the former British Central Africa Protectorate changed its name. Between 1953 and 1963, Nyasaland was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasala ...
(present-day
Malawi Malawi (; or aláwi Tumbuka: ''Malaŵi''), officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in Southeastern Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and northea ...
), of an Oxfordshire
landed gentry The landed gentry, or the ''gentry'', is a largely historical British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, or at least had a country estate. While distinct from, and socially below, the British peerage, ...
family. His father was called up into the King's African Rifles during the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposi ...
and returned to England in 1949, when Dawkins was eight. His father had inherited a country estate, Over Norton Park in
Oxfordshire Oxfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the north west of South East England. It is a mainly rural county, with its largest settlement being the city of Oxford. The county is a centre of research and development, primari ...
, which he farmed commercially. Dawkins lives in
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to th ...
, England. He has a younger sister, Sarah. His parents were interested in
natural science Natural science is one of the branches of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Mechanisms such as peer review and repeatabi ...
s, and they answered Dawkins's questions in scientific terms. Dawkins describes his childhood as "a normal
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation, in the context of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. It is one of th ...
upbringing". He embraced
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest and most widespread religion with roughly 2.38 billion followers representing one-third of the global pop ...
until halfway through his teenage years, at which point he concluded that the
theory of evolution Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes, which are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Variation ...
alone was a better explanation for life's complexity, and ceased believing in a god. Dawkins states: "The main residual reason why I was religious was from being so impressed with the complexity of life and feeling that it had to have a designer, and I think it was when I realised that Darwinism was a far superior explanation that pulled the rug out from under the argument of design. And that left me with nothing." This understanding of atheism combined with his western cultural background, informs Dawkins as he describes himself in several interviews as a " cultural Christian" and a "cultural
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation, in the context of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. It is one of th ...
".


Education

On his return to England from Nyasaland in 1949, at the age of eight, Dawkins joined Chafyn Grove School, in
Wiltshire Wiltshire (; abbreviated Wilts) is a historic and ceremonial county in South West England with an area of . It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset to the southwest, Somerset to the west, Hampshire to the southeast, Glouceste ...
, and after that from 1954 to 1959 attended Oundle School in
Northamptonshire Northamptonshire (; abbreviated Northants.) is a county in the East Midlands of England. In 2015, it had a population of 723,000. The county is administered by two unitary authorities: North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire. It i ...
, an English public school with a
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the established Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Brit ...
ethos, where he was in Laundimer House. While at Oundle, Dawkins read
Bertrand Russell Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British mathematician, philosopher, logician, and public intellectual. He had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, a ...
's '' Why I Am Not a Christian'' for the first time. He studied
zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and ...
at
Balliol College, Oxford Balliol College () is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. One of Oxford's oldest colleges, it was founded around 1263 by John I de Balliol, a landowner from Barnard Castle in County Durham, who provided the ...
, graduating in 1962; while there, he was tutored by
Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel's will of 1895, are awarded to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind." Alfr ...
-winning ethologist
Nikolaas Tinbergen Nikolaas "Niko" Tinbergen (; ; 15 April 1907 – 21 December 1988) was a Dutch biologist and ornithologist who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Karl von Frisch and Konrad Lorenz for their discoveries concerning the ...
. He graduated with upper-class second honours. Dawkins continued as a research student under Tinbergen's supervision, receiving his
Doctor of Philosophy A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin: or ') is the most common degree at the highest academic level awarded following a course of study. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. Because it is ...
degree by 1966, and remained a research assistant for another year. For direct link to media, se
this link
/ref> Tinbergen was a pioneer in the study of animal behaviour, particularly in the areas of
instinct Instinct is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behaviour, containing both innate (inborn) and learned elements. The simplest example of an instinctive behaviour is a fixed action pattern (FAP), in which a ...
, learning, and choice; Dawkins's research in this period concerned models of animal decision-making. He was awarded a DSc by Oxford in 1989.


Teaching

From 1967 to 1969, Dawkins was an assistant professor of zoology at the
University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, or California) is a public land-grant research university in Berkeley, California. Established in 1868 as the University of California, it is the state's first land-grant ...
. During this period, the students and faculty at UC Berkeley were largely opposed to the ongoing
Vietnam War The Vietnam War (also known by other names) was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vie ...
, and Dawkins became involved in the
anti-war An anti-war movement (also ''antiwar'') is a social movement, usually in opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an armed conflict, unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. The term anti-war can also refer to ...
demonstrations and activities. He returned to the University of Oxford in 1970 as a lecturer. In 1990, he became a reader in zoology. In 1995, he was appointed Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position that had been endowed by
Charles Simonyi Charles Simonyi (; hu, Simonyi Károly, ; born September 10, 1948) is a Hungarian-American software architect. He started and led Microsoft's applications group, where he built the first versions of Microsoft Office. He co-founded and led I ...
with the express intention that the holder "be expected to make important contributions to the public understanding of some scientific field", and that its first holder should be Richard Dawkins. He held that professorship from 1995 until 2008. Since 1970, he has been a
fellow A fellow is a concept whose exact meaning depends on context. In learned or professional societies, it refers to a privileged member who is specially elected in recognition of their work and achievements. Within the context of higher educatio ...
of
New College, Oxford New College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham in conjunction with Winchester College as its feeder school, New College is one of the oldest colleges at ...
, and he is now an
emeritus ''Emeritus'' (; female: ''emerita'') is an adjective used to designate a retired chair, professor, pastor, bishop, pope, director, president, prime minister, rabbi, emperor, or other person who has been "permitted to retain as an honorary title ...
fellow. He has delivered many lectures, including the
Henry Sidgwick Henry Sidgwick (; 31 May 1838 – 28 August 1900) was an English utilitarian philosopher and economist. He was the Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Cambridge from 1883 until his death, and is best known in philos ...
Memorial Lecture (1989), the first
Erasmus Darwin Erasmus Robert Darwin (12 December 173118 April 1802) was an English physician. One of the key thinkers of the Midlands Enlightenment, he was also a natural philosopher, physiologist, slave-trade abolitionist, inventor, and poet. His poems ...
Memorial Lecture (1990), the
Michael Faraday Michael Faraday (; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, ...
Lecture (1991), the T. H. Huxley Memorial Lecture (1992), the Irvine Memorial Lecture (1997), the Tinbergen Lecture (2004), and the Tanner Lectures (2003). In 1991, he gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Children on '' Growing Up in the Universe''. He also has edited several journals, and has acted as an editorial advisor to the ''Encarta Encyclopedia'' and the '' Encyclopedia of Evolution''. He is listed as a senior editor and a columnist of the Council for Secular Humanism's ''Free Inquiry'' magazine, and has been a member of the editorial board of ''
Skeptic Skepticism, also spelled scepticism, is a questioning attitude or doubt toward knowledge claims that are seen as mere belief or dogma. For example, if a person is skeptical about claims made by their government about an ongoing war then the p ...
'' magazine since its foundation. Dawkins has sat on judging panels for awards as diverse as the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, ...
's
Faraday Award The Royal Society of London Michael Faraday Prize is awarded for "excellence in communicating science to UK audiences". Named after Michael Faraday Michael Faraday (; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist w ...
and the
British Academy Television Awards The BAFTA TV Awards, or British Academy Television Awards are presented in an annual award show hosted by the BAFTA. They have been awarded annually since 1955. Background The first-ever Awards, given in 1955, consisted of six categories. Until ...
, and has been president of the Biological Sciences section of the
British Association for the Advancement of Science The British Science Association (BSA) is a charity and learned society founded in 1831 to aid in the promotion and development of science. Until 2009 it was known as the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA). The current Ch ...
. In 2004,
Balliol College, Oxford Balliol College () is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. One of Oxford's oldest colleges, it was founded around 1263 by John I de Balliol, a landowner from Barnard Castle in County Durham, who provided the ...
, instituted the Dawkins Prize, awarded for "outstanding research into the ecology and behaviour of animals whose welfare and survival may be endangered by human activities". In September 2008, he retired from his professorship, announcing plans to "write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in 'anti-scientific' fairytales." In 2011, Dawkins joined the professoriate of the New College of the Humanities, a
private university Private universities and private colleges are institutions of higher education, not operated, owned, or institutionally funded by governments. They may (and often do) receive from governments tax breaks, public student loans, and grants. ...
in London established by A. C. Grayling, which opened in September 2012.


Work


Evolutionary biology

Dawkins is best known for his popularisation of the
gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "... Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian units of heredity..." meaning ''generation'' or ''birth'' or ''gender'') can have several different meanings. The Mendelian gene is a ...
as the principal
unit of selection A unit of selection is a biological entity within the hierarchy of biological organization (for example, an entity such as: a self-replicating molecule, a gene, a cell, an organism, a group, or a species) that is subject to natural selection ...
in
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes, which are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Variation ...
; this view is most clearly set out in two of his books: * ''
The Selfish Gene ''The Selfish Gene'' is a 1976 book on evolution by the ethologist Richard Dawkins, in which the author builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams's '' Adaptation and Natural Selection'' (1966). Dawkins uses the term "selfish g ...
'' (1976), in which he notes that "all life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities". * ''
The Extended Phenotype ''The Extended Phenotype'' is a 1982 book by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in which the author introduced a biological concept of the same name. The main idea is that phenotype should not be ''limited'' to biological processes suc ...
'' (1982), in which he describes
natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the heritable traits characteristic of a population over generations. Charl ...
as "the process whereby replicators out-propagate each other". He introduces to a wider audience the influential concept he presented in 1977, that the
phenotypic In genetics, the phenotype () is the set of observable characteristics or traits of an organism. The term covers the organism's morphology or physical form and structure, its developmental processes, its biochemical and physiological prop ...
effects of a gene are not necessarily limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment, including the bodies of other organisms. Dawkins regarded the extended phenotype as his single most important contribution to evolutionary biology and he considered niche construction to be a special case of extended phenotype. The concept of extended phenotype helps explain evolution, but it does not help predict specific outcomes. Dawkins has consistently been sceptical about non-adaptive processes in evolution (such as
spandrels A spandrel is a roughly triangular space, usually found in pairs, between the top of an arch and a rectangular frame; between the tops of two adjacent arches or one of the four spaces between a circle within a square. They are frequently fill ...
, described by Gould and Lewontin) and about selection at levels "above" that of the gene. He is particularly sceptical about the practical possibility or importance of group selection as a basis for understanding
altruism Altruism is the principle and moral practice of concern for the welfare and/or happiness of other human beings or animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core as ...
. Altruism appears at first to be an evolutionary paradox, since helping others costs precious resources and decreases one's own chances for survival, or "fitness". Previously, many had interpreted altruism as an aspect of group selection, suggesting that individuals are doing what is best for the survival of the population or species as a whole. British evolutionary biologist W. D. Hamilton used gene-frequency analysis in his inclusive fitness theory to show how hereditary altruistic traits can evolve if there is sufficient genetic similarity between actors and recipients of such altruism, including close relatives. Hamilton's inclusive fitness has since been successfully applied to a wide range of organisms, including
humans Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due to a large and complex brain. This has enabled the development of advanced tools, cultu ...
. Similarly, Robert Trivers, thinking in terms of the gene-centred model, developed the theory of
reciprocal altruism In evolutionary biology, reciprocal altruism is a behaviour whereby an organism acts in a manner that temporarily reduces its fitness while increasing another organism's fitness, with the expectation that the other organism will act in a similar m ...
, whereby one organism provides a benefit to another in the expectation of future reciprocation. Dawkins popularised these ideas in ''The Selfish Gene'', and developed them in his own work. In June 2012, Dawkins was highly critical of fellow biologist E. O. Wilson's 2012 book '' The Social Conquest of Earth'' as misunderstanding Hamilton's theory of kin selection. Dawkins has also been strongly critical of the
Gaia hypothesis The Gaia hypothesis (), also known as the Gaia theory, Gaia paradigm, or the Gaia principle, proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that help ...
of the independent scientist
James Lovelock James Ephraim Lovelock (26 July 1919 – 26 July 2022) was an English independent scientist, environmentalist and futurist. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating s ...
. Critics of Dawkins's biological approach suggest that taking the
gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "... Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian units of heredity..." meaning ''generation'' or ''birth'' or ''gender'') can have several different meanings. The Mendelian gene is a ...
as the unit of ''selection'' (a single event in which an individual either succeeds or fails to reproduce) is misleading. The gene could be better described, they say, as a unit of ''evolution'' (the long-term changes in
allele An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is a variation of the same sequence of nucleotides at the same place on a long DNA molecule, as described in leading textbooks on genetics and evolution. ::"The chro ...
frequencies in a population). In ''The Selfish Gene'', Dawkins explains that he is using George C. Williams's definition of the gene as "that which segregates and recombines with appreciable frequency". Another common objection is that a gene cannot survive alone, but must cooperate with other genes to build an individual, and therefore a gene cannot be an independent "unit". In ''The Extended Phenotype'', Dawkins suggests that from an individual gene's viewpoint, all other genes are part of the environment to which it is adapted. Advocates for higher levels of selection (such as
Richard Lewontin Richard Charles Lewontin (March 29, 1929 – July 4, 2021) was an American evolutionary biologist, mathematician, geneticist, and social commentator. A leader in developing the mathematical basis of population genetics and evolutionary theor ...
, David Sloan Wilson, and Elliott Sober) suggest that there are many phenomena (including altruism) that gene-based selection cannot satisfactorily explain. The philosopher Mary Midgley, with whom Dawkins clashed in print concerning ''The Selfish Gene'', has criticised gene selection, memetics, and sociobiology as being excessively
reductionist Reductionism is any of several related philosophical ideas regarding the associations between phenomena which can be described in terms of other simpler or more fundamental phenomena. It is also described as an intellectual and philosophical p ...
; she has suggested that the popularity of Dawkins's work is due to factors in the
Zeitgeist In 18th- and 19th-century German philosophy, a ''Zeitgeist'' () ("spirit of the age") is an invisible agent, force or Daemon dominating the characteristics of a given epoch in world history. Now, the term is usually associated with Georg W ...
such as the increased individualism of the Thatcher/Reagan decades. Besides, other, more recent views and analysis on his popular science works also exist. In a set of controversies over the mechanisms and interpretation of evolution (what has been called 'The Darwin Wars'), one faction is often named after Dawkins, while the other faction is named after the American palaeontologist
Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould (; September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was one of the most influential and widely read authors of popular science of his generation. Gould ...
, reflecting the pre-eminence of each as a populariser of the pertinent ideas. In particular, Dawkins and Gould have been prominent commentators in the controversy over
sociobiology Sociobiology is a field of biology that aims to examine and explain social behavior in terms of evolution. It draws from disciplines including psychology, ethology, anthropology, evolution, zoology, archaeology, and population genetics. Within ...
and
evolutionary psychology Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach in psychology that examines cognition and behavior from a modern evolutionary perspective. It seeks to identify human psychological adaptations with regards to the ancestral problems they evolv ...
, with Dawkins generally approving and Gould generally being critical. A typical example of Dawkins's position is his scathing review of '' Not in Our Genes'' by Steven Rose, Leon J. Kamin, and Richard C. Lewontin. Two other thinkers who are often considered to be allied with Dawkins on the subject are
Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, psycholinguist, popular science author, and public intellectual. He is an advocate of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. ...
and
Daniel Dennett Daniel Clement Dennett III (born March 28, 1942) is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields rela ...
; Dennett has promoted a gene-centred view of evolution and defended
reductionism Reductionism is any of several related philosophical ideas regarding the associations between phenomena which can be described in terms of other simpler or more fundamental phenomena. It is also described as an intellectual and philosophical p ...
in biology. Despite their academic disagreements, Dawkins and Gould did not have a hostile personal relationship, and Dawkins dedicated a large portion of his 2003 book '' A Devil's Chaplain'' posthumously to Gould, who had died the previous year. When asked if
Darwinism Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809–1882) and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that ...
informs his everyday apprehension of life, Dawkins says, "In one way it does. My eyes are constantly wide open to the extraordinary fact of existence. Not just human existence but the existence of life and how this breathtakingly powerful process, which is natural selection, has managed to take the very simple facts of physics and chemistry and build them up to redwood trees and humans. That's never far from my thoughts, that sense of amazement. On the other hand, I certainly don't allow Darwinism to influence my feelings about human social life," implying that he feels that individual human beings can opt out of the survival machine of Darwinism since they are freed by the
consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience and awareness of internal and external existence. However, the lack of definitions has led to millennia of analyses, explanations and debates by philosophers, theologians, linguisticians, and scie ...
of self.


"Meme" as behavioural concept

In his book ''The Selfish Gene'', Dawkins coined the word ''meme'' (the behavioural equivalent of a gene) as a way to encourage readers to think about how Darwinian principles might be extended beyond the realm of genes. It was intended as an extension of his "replicators" argument, but it took on a life of its own in the hands of other authors, such as
Daniel Dennett Daniel Clement Dennett III (born March 28, 1942) is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields rela ...
and
Susan Blackmore Susan Jane Blackmore (born 29 July 1951) is a British writer, lecturer, sceptic, broadcaster, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. Her fields of research include memetics, parapsychology, consciousness, and she is best know ...
. These popularisations then led to the emergence of
memetics Memetics is a study of information and culture. While memetics originated as an analogy with Darwinian evolution, digital communication, media, and sociology scholars have also adopted the term "memetics" to describe an established empirical stud ...
, a field from which Dawkins has distanced himself. Dawkins's ''meme'' refers to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator of a certain idea or set of ideas. He hypothesised that people could view many cultural entities as capable of such replication, generally through communication and contact with humans, who have evolved as efficient (although not perfect) copiers of information and behaviour. Because memes are not always copied perfectly, they might become refined, combined, or otherwise modified with other ideas; this results in new memes, which may themselves prove more or less efficient replicators than their predecessors, thus providing a framework for a hypothesis of
cultural evolution Cultural evolution is an evolutionary theory of social change. It follows from the definition of culture as "information capable of affecting individuals' behavior that they acquire from other members of their species through teaching, imitation ...
based on memes, a notion that is analogous to the theory of biological evolution based on genes. Although Dawkins invented the term ''meme'', he has not claimed that the idea was entirely novel, and there have been other expressions for similar ideas in the past. For instance, John Laurent has suggested that the term may have derived from the work of the little-known German biologist Richard Semon. Semon regarded "mneme" as the collective set of neural memory traces (conscious or subconscious) that were inherited, although such view would be considered as
Lamarckian Lamarckism, also known as Lamarckian inheritance or neo-Lamarckism, is the notion that an organism can pass on to its offspring physical characteristics that the parent organism acquired through use or disuse during its lifetime. It is also calle ...
by modern biologists. Laurent also found the use of the term ''mneme'' in
Maurice Maeterlinck Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck (29 August 1862 – 6 May 1949), also known as Count (or Comte) Maeterlinck from 1932, was a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who was Flemish but wrote in French. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in ...
's ''The Life of the White Ant'' (1926), and Maeterlinck himself stated that he obtained the phrase from Semon's work. In his own work, Maeterlinck tried to explain memory in termites and ants by claiming that neural memory traces were added "upon the individual mneme". Nonetheless, James Gleick describes Dawkins's concept of the meme as "his most famous memorable invention, far more influential than his selfish genes or his later proselytising against religiosity".


Foundation

In 2006, Dawkins founded the ''Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science'' (''RDFRS''), a
non-profit organisation A nonprofit organization (NPO) or non-profit organisation, also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or social benefit, in co ...
. RDFRS financed research on the psychology of belief and religion, financed scientific education programs and materials, and publicised and supported
charitable organisation A charitable organization or charity is an organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being (e.g. educational, religious or other activities serving the public interest or common good). The legal definition of a ...
s that are
secular Secularity, also the secular or secularness (from Latin ''saeculum'', "worldly" or "of a generation"), is the state of being unrelated or neutral in regards to religion. Anything that does not have an explicit reference to religion, either negativ ...
in nature. In January 2016, it was announced that the foundation was merging with the
Center for Inquiry The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a US nonprofit organization that works to mitigate belief in pseudoscience and the paranormal, as well as to fight the influence of religion in government. History The Center for Inquiry was established in 199 ...
, with Dawkins becoming a member of the new organization's board of directors.


Criticism of religion

Dawkins was confirmed into the Church of England at the age of 13, but began to grow sceptical of the beliefs. He said that his understanding of science and evolutionary processes led him to question how adults in positions of leadership in a civilised world could still be so uneducated in biology, and is puzzled by how belief in God could remain among individuals who are sophisticated in science. Dawkins notes that some physicists use 'God' as a metaphor for the general awe-inspiring mysteries of the universe, which causes confusion and misunderstanding among people who incorrectly think they are talking about a mystical being who forgives sins, transubstantiates wine, or makes people live after they die. He disagrees with
Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould (; September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was one of the most influential and widely read authors of popular science of his generation. Gould ...
's principle of nonoverlapping magisteria (NOMA) and suggests that the
existence of God The existence of God (or more generally, the existence of deities) is a subject of debate in theology, philosophy of religion and popular culture. A wide variety of arguments for and against the existence of God or deities can be categor ...
should be treated as a scientific hypothesis like any other. Dawkins became a prominent critic of religion and has stated his opposition to religion as twofold: religion is both a source of conflict and a justification for belief without evidence. He considers faith—belief that is not based on evidence—as "one of the world's great evils". On his spectrum of theistic probability, which has seven levels between 1 (100% certainty that a God or gods exist) and 7 (100% certainty that a God or gods do not exist), Dawkins has said he is a 6.9, which represents a "de facto atheist" who thinks "I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there." When asked about his slight uncertainty, Dawkins quips, "I am agnostic to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden." In May 2014, at the
Hay Festival The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, better known as the Hay Festival ( cy, Gŵyl Y Gelli), is an annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, for 10 days from May to June. Devised by Norman, Rhoda and Peter Florence in 1988, ...
in Wales, Dawkins explained that while he does not believe in the supernatural elements of the Christian faith, he still has nostalgia for the ceremonial side of religion. In addition to beliefs in deities, Dawkins has criticized religious beliefs as irrational, such as that Jesus turned water into wine, that an embryo starts as a blob, that magic underwear will protect you, that Jesus was resurrected, that
semen Semen, also known as seminal fluid, is an organic bodily fluid created to contain spermatozoa. It is secreted by the gonads (sexual glands) and other sexual organs of male or hermaphroditic animals and can fertilize the female ovum. S ...
comes from the spine, that Jesus walked on water, that the sun sets in a marsh, that the Garden of Eden existed in Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri, that Jesus' mother was a virgin, that Muhammad split the moon, and that Lazarus was raised from the dead. Dawkins has risen to prominence in public debates concerning science and religion since the publication of his most popular book, '' The God Delusion'', in 2006, which became an international bestseller. As of 2015, more than three million copies have been sold and the book has been translated into over 30 languages. Its success has been seen by many as indicative of a change in the contemporary cultural
zeitgeist In 18th- and 19th-century German philosophy, a ''Zeitgeist'' () ("spirit of the age") is an invisible agent, force or Daemon dominating the characteristics of a given epoch in world history. Now, the term is usually associated with Georg W ...
and has also been identified with the rise of New Atheism. In the book, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a
delusion A delusion is a false fixed belief that is not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, hallucination, or so ...
—"a fixed false belief". In his February 2002 TED talk entitled "Militant atheism", Dawkins urged all atheists to openly state their position and to fight the incursion of the church into politics and science. On 30 September 2007, Dawkins,
Christopher Hitchens Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British-American author and journalist who wrote or edited over 30 books (including five essay collections) on culture, politics, and literature. Born and educated in England, ...
,
Sam Harris Samuel Benjamin Harris (born April 9, 1967) is an American philosopher, neuroscientist, author, and podcast host. His work touches on a range of topics, including rationality, religion, ethics, free will, neuroscience, meditation, psychedelic ...
, and
Daniel Dennett Daniel Clement Dennett III (born March 28, 1942) is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields rela ...
met at Hitchens's residence for a private, unmoderated discussion that lasted two hours. The event was videotaped and entitled "The Four Horsemen". Dawkins sees education and consciousness-raising as the primary tools in opposing what he considers to be religious dogma and indoctrination. These tools include the fight against certain stereotypes, and he has adopted the term ''
bright Bright may refer to: Common meanings *Bright, an adjective meaning giving off or reflecting illumination; see Brightness *Bright, an adjective meaning someone with intelligence People * Bright (surname) * Bright (given name) *Bright, the stage na ...
'' as a way of associating positive public connotations with those who possess a naturalistic worldview. He has given support to the idea of a free-thinking school, which would not "indoctrinate children" but would instead teach children to ask for evidence and be skeptical, critical, and open-minded. Such a school, says Dawkins, should "teach comparative religion, and teach it properly without any bias towards particular religions, and including historically important but dead religions, such as those of ancient Greece and the Norse gods, if only because these, like the Abrahamic scriptures, are important for understanding English literature and European history." Inspired by the consciousness-raising successes of
feminists Feminism is a range of socio-political movements and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. Feminism incorporates the position that society prioritizes the male p ...
in arousing widespread embarrassment at the routine use of "he" instead of "she", Dawkins similarly suggests that phrases such as "Catholic child" and "Muslim child" should be considered as socially absurd as, for instance, "Marxist child", as he believes that children should not be classified based on the ideological or religious beliefs of their parents. While some critics, such as writer
Christopher Hitchens Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British-American author and journalist who wrote or edited over 30 books (including five essay collections) on culture, politics, and literature. Born and educated in England, ...
, psychologist
Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, psycholinguist, popular science author, and public intellectual. He is an advocate of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. ...
and
Nobel laureate The Nobel Prizes ( sv, Nobelpriset, no, Nobelprisen) are awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Swedish Academy, the Karolinska Institutet, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee to individuals and organizations who make ...
s Sir Harold Kroto, James D. Watson, and
Steven Weinberg Steven Weinberg (; May 3, 1933 – July 23, 2021) was an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic inter ...
have defended Dawkins's stance on religion and praised his work, others, including
Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel's will of 1895, are awarded to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind." Alfr ...
-winning
theoretical physicist Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. This is in contrast to experimental physics, which uses experi ...
Peter Higgs Peter Ware Higgs (born 29 May 1929) is a British theoretical physicist, Emeritus Professor in the University of Edinburgh,Griggs, Jessica (Summer 2008The Missing Piece ''Edit'' the University of Edinburgh Alumni Magazine, p. 17 and Nobel P ...
, astrophysicist
Martin Rees Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where: (born 23 June 1942) is a British cosmologist and astrophysicist. He is the fifteenth Astronomer Roya ...
, philosopher of science
Michael Ruse Michael Ruse (born 21 June 1940) is a British-born Canadian philosopher of science who specializes in the philosophy of biology and works on the relationship between science and religion, the creation–evolution controversy, and the demar ...
, literary critic Terry Eagleton, philosopher
Roger Scruton Sir Roger Vernon Scruton (; 27 February 194412 January 2020) was an English philosopher and writer who specialised in aesthetics and political philosophy, particularly in the furtherance of traditionalist conservative views. Editor from 198 ...
, academic and social critic Camille Paglia, atheist philosopher Daniel Came and theologian
Alister McGrath Alister Edgar McGrath (; born 1953) is a Northern Irish theologian, Anglican priest, intellectual historian, scientist, Christian apologist, and public intellectual. He currently holds the Andreas Idreos Professorship in Science and Religio ...
, have criticised Dawkins on various grounds, including the assertion that his work simply serves as an atheist counterpart to religious fundamentalism rather than a productive critique of it, and that he has fundamentally misapprehended the foundations of the
theological Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing th ...
positions he claims to refute. Rees and Higgs, in particular, have both rejected Dawkins's confrontational stance toward religion as narrow and "embarrassing", with Higgs going as far as to equate Dawkins with the religious fundamentalists he criticises. Atheist philosopher John Gray has denounced Dawkins as an "anti-religious missionary", whose assertions are "in no sense novel or original," suggesting that "transfixed in wonderment at the workings of his own mind, Dawkins misses much that is of importance in human beings." Gray has also criticised Dawkins's perceived allegiance to Darwin, stating that if "science, for Darwin, was a method of inquiry that enabled him to edge tentatively and humbly toward the truth, for Dawkins, science is an unquestioned view of the world." A 2016 study found that many British scientists held an unfavourable view of Dawkins and his attitude towards religion. In response to his critics, Dawkins maintains that theologians are no better than scientists in addressing deep
cosmological Cosmology () is a branch of physics and metaphysics dealing with the nature of the universe. The term ''cosmology'' was first used in English in 1656 in Thomas Blount's ''Glossographia'', and in 1731 taken up in Latin by German philosopher ...
questions and that he is not a fundamentalist, as he is willing to change his mind in the face of new evidence. Dawkins has faced backlash over some of his public comments about Islam. In 2013, Dawkins
tweeted Twitter is an online social media and social networking service owned and operated by American company Twitter, Inc., on which users post and interact with 280-character-long messages known as "tweets". Registered users can post, like, a ...
that "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though." In 2016, Dawkins' invitation to speak at the
Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism The Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS, pronounced as "nexus") is a four-day conference focusing on science and skepticism founded in 2009 and held annually in New York City. NECSS is jointly run by the New York City Skeptics (N ...
was withdrawn over his sharing of what was characterized as a "highly offensive video" satirically showing cartoon feminist and Islamist characters singing about the things they hold in common. In issuing the tweet, Dawkins stated that it "Obviously doesn’t apply to vast majority of feminists, among whom I count myself. But the minority are pernicious."


Criticism of creationism

Dawkins is a prominent critic of
creationism Creationism is the religious belief that nature, and aspects such as the universe, Earth, life, and humans, originated with supernatural acts of divine creation. Gunn 2004, p. 9, "The ''Concise Oxford Dictionary'' says that creationism is 'th ...
, a religious belief that
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due to a large and complex brain. This has enabled the development of advanced tools, cult ...
ity,
life Life is a quality that distinguishes matter that has biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from that which does not, and is defined by the capacity for growth, reaction to stimuli, metabolism, energy ...
, and the
universe The universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development of the univer ...
were created by a
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god or goddess, or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers gr ...
without recourse to evolution. He has described the young Earth creationist view that the Earth is only a few thousand years old as "a preposterous, mind-shrinking falsehood". His 1986 book, ''
The Blind Watchmaker ''The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design'' is a 1986 book by Richard Dawkins, in which the author presents an explanation of, and argument for, the theory of evolution by means of natural select ...
'', contains a sustained critique of the argument from design, an important creationist argument. In the book, Dawkins argues against the
watchmaker analogy The watchmaker analogy or watchmaker argument is a teleological argument which states, by way of an analogy, that a design implies a designer, especially intelligent design by an intelligent designer, i.e. a creator deity. The watchmaker analog ...
made famous by the eighteenth-century English
theologian Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing th ...
William Paley William Paley (July 174325 May 1805) was an English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his natural theology exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work '' Natu ...
via his book ''Natural Theology'', in which Paley argues that just as a watch is too complicated and too functional to have sprung into existence merely by accident, so too must all living things—with their far greater complexity—be purposefully designed. Dawkins shares the view generally held by scientists that natural selection is sufficient to explain the apparent functionality and non-random complexity of the biological world, and can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, albeit as an automatic, unguided by any designer, nonintelligent, ''blind'' watchmaker. In 1986, Dawkins and biologist
John Maynard Smith John Maynard Smith (6 January 1920 – 19 April 2004) was a British theoretical and mathematical evolutionary biologist and geneticist. Originally an aeronautical engineer during the Second World War, he took a second degree in genetics ...
participated in an
Oxford Union The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a debating society in the city of Oxford England, whose membership is drawn primarily from the University of Oxford. Founded in 1823, it is one of Britain's oldest ...
debate against A. E. Wilder-Smith (a Young Earth creationist) and
Edgar Andrews Edgar Harold Andrews (born 16 December 1932) is an English physicist and engineer. He is Emeritus Professor of Materials at Queen Mary, University of London. Education, qualifications and specialties After completing a BSc degree in theoretica ...
(president of the Biblical Creation Society). In general, however, Dawkins has followed the advice of his late colleague
Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould (; September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was one of the most influential and widely read authors of popular science of his generation. Gould ...
and refused to participate in formal debates with creationists because "what they seek is the oxygen of respectability", and doing so would "give them this oxygen by the mere act of ''engaging'' with them at all". He suggests that creationists "don't mind being beaten in an argument. What matters is that we give them recognition by bothering to argue with them in public." In a December 2004 interview with American journalist
Bill Moyers Bill Moyers (born Billy Don Moyers, June 5, 1934) is an American journalist and political commentator. Under the Johnson administration he served from 1965 to 1967 as the eleventh White House Press Secretary. He was a director of the Counci ...
, Dawkins said that "among the things that science does know, evolution is about as certain as anything we know." When Moyers questioned him on the use of the word ''theory'', Dawkins stated that "evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening." He added that "it is rather like a detective coming on a murder after the scene... the detective hasn't actually seen the murder take place, of course. But what you do see is a massive clue... Huge quantities of circumstantial evidence. It might as well be spelled out in words of English." Dawkins has opposed the inclusion of
intelligent design Intelligent design (ID) is a pseudoscientific argument for the existence of God, presented by its proponents as "an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins". Numbers 2006, p. 373; " Dcaptured headlines for its bold attempt to ...
in science education, describing it as "not a scientific argument at all, but a religious one". He has been referred to in the media as "Darwin's
Rottweiler The Rottweiler (, ) is a breed of domestic dog, regarded as medium-to-large or large. The dogs were known in German as , meaning Rottweil butchers' dogs, because their main use was to herd livestock and pull carts laden with butchered meat ...
", a reference to English biologist T. H. Huxley, who was known as "Darwin's
Bulldog The Bulldog is a British breed of dog of mastiff type. It may also be known as the English Bulldog or British Bulldog. It is of medium size, a muscular, hefty dog with a wrinkled face and a distinctive pushed-in nose.Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin ( ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, widely known for his contributions to evolutionary biology. His proposition that all species of life have descended ...
's evolutionary ideas. He has been a strong critic of the British organisation Truth in Science, which promotes the teaching of creationism in state schools, and whose work Dawkins has described as an "educational scandal". He plans to subsidise schools through the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science with the delivery of books, DVDs, and pamphlets that counteract their work.


Political views

Dawkins is an outspoken
atheist Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there no ...
and a supporter of various atheist, secular, and humanist organisations, including
Humanists UK Humanists UK, known from 1967 until May 2017 as the British Humanist Association (BHA), is a charitable organisation which promotes secular humanism and aims to represent "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious b ...
and the
Brights movement The Brights movement is a social movement whose members since 2003 refer to themselves as Brights and have a worldview of philosophical naturalism. Most Brights believe that public policies should be based on science (a body of knowledge obtain ...
. Dawkins suggests that atheists should be proud, not apologetic, stressing that atheism is evidence of a healthy, independent mind. He hopes that the more atheists identify themselves, the more the public will become aware of just how many people are nonbelievers, thereby reducing the negative opinion of atheism among the religious majority. Inspired by the gay rights movement, he endorsed the Out Campaign to encourage atheists worldwide to declare their stance publicly. He supported a UK atheist advertising initiative, the Atheist Bus Campaign in 2008 and 2009, which aimed to raise funds to place atheist advertisements on buses in the London area. Dawkins has expressed concern about the growth of the human population and about the matter of
overpopulation Overpopulation or overabundance is a phenomenon in which a species' population becomes larger than the carrying capacity of its environment. This may be caused by increased birth rates, lowered mortality rates, reduced predation or large scale ...
. In ''The Selfish Gene'', he briefly mentions population growth, giving the example of
Latin America Latin America or * french: Amérique Latine, link=no * ht, Amerik Latin, link=no * pt, América Latina, link=no, name=a, sometimes referred to as LatAm is a large cultural region in the Americas where Romance languages — languages derived ...
, whose population, at the time the book was written, was doubling every 40 years. He is critical of
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD * Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *'' Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a lett ...
attitudes to
family planning Family planning is the consideration of the number of children a person wishes to have, including the choice to have no children, and the age at which they wish to have them. Things that may play a role on family planning decisions include marita ...
and population control, stating that leaders who forbid
contraception Birth control, also known as contraception, anticonception, and fertility control, is the use of methods or devices to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Birth control has been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods of birth contr ...
and "express a preference for 'natural' methods of population limitation" will get just such a method in the form of
starvation Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy intake, below the level needed to maintain an organism's life. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, de ...
. As a supporter of the
Great Ape Project The Great Ape Project (GAP), founded in 1993, is an international organization of primatologists, anthropologists, ethicists, and others who advocate a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer basic legal right ...
—a movement to extend certain moral and legal
rights Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical ...
to all
great apes The Hominidae (), whose members are known as the great apes or hominids (), are a taxonomic family of primates that includes eight extant species in four genera: '' Pongo'' (the Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutan); '' Gorilla'' (t ...
—Dawkins contributed the article 'Gaps in the Mind' to the ''Great Ape Project'' book edited by Paola Cavalieri and
Peter Singer Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher, currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secula ...
. In this essay, he criticises contemporary society's moral attitudes as being based on a "discontinuous, speciesist imperative". Dawkins also regularly comments in newspapers and
blog A blog (a truncation of "weblog") is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order ...
s on contemporary political questions and is a frequent contributor to the online science and culture digest '' 3 Quarks Daily''. His opinions include opposition to the
2003 invasion of Iraq The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a United States-led invasion of the Republic of Iraq and the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one month, including 26 ...
, the British nuclear deterrent, the actions of then-US President George W. Bush, and the ethics of designer babies. Several such articles were included in '' A Devil's Chaplain'', an anthology of writings about science, religion, and politics. He is also a supporter of
Republic A republic () is a " state in which power rests with the people or their representatives; specifically a state without a monarchy" and also a " government, or system of government, of such a state." Previously, especially in the 17th and 1 ...
's campaign to replace the
British monarchy The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional form of government by which a hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies (the Bailiw ...
with a democratically elected
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) * President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese f ...
. Dawkins has described himself as a Labour voter in the 1970s and voter for the Liberal Democrats since the party's creation. In 2009, he spoke at the party's conference in opposition to blasphemy laws, alternative medicine, and faith schools. In the UK general election of 2010, Dawkins officially endorsed the Liberal Democrats, in support of their campaign for electoral reform and for their "refusal to pander to 'faith. In the run up to the 2017 general election, Dawkins once again endorsed the Liberal Democrats and urged voters to join the party. In April 2021, Dawkins said on Twitter that "Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss." After receiving criticism for this tweet, Dawkins responded by saying that "I do not intend to disparage trans people. I see that my academic "Discuss" question has been misconstrued as such and I deplore this. It was also not my intent to ally in any way with Republican bigots in US now exploiting this issue." Dawkins has voiced his support for the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation that campaigns for democratic reform in the United Nations, and the creation of a more accountable international political system. Dawkins identifies as a feminist. He has said that feminism is "enormously important".


Views on postmodernism

In 1998, in a book review published in ''Nature'', Dawkins expressed his appreciation for two books connected with the Sokal affair, '' Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science'' by Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt and '' Intellectual Impostures'' by
Sokal Sokal ( uk, Сокаль, romanized: ''Sokal'') is a city located on the Bug River in Chervonohrad Raion, Lviv Oblast of western Ukraine. It hosts the administration of Sokal urban hromada, one of the hromadas of Ukraine. The population is appr ...
and Jean Bricmont. These books are famous for their criticism of
postmodernism Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourseNuyen, A.T., 1992. The Role of Rhetorical Devices in Postmodernist Discourse. Philosophy & Rhetoric, pp.183–194. characterized by skepticism toward the " grand narratives" of modern ...
in U.S. universities (namely in the departments of literary studies, anthropology, and other cultural studies). For article with math symbols se
this link
.
Echoing many critics, Dawkins holds that postmodernism uses obscurantist language to hide its lack of meaningful content. As an example he quotes the psychoanalyst
Félix Guattari Pierre-Félix Guattari ( , ; 30 April 1930 – 29 August 1992) was a French psychoanalyst, political philosopher, semiotician, social activist, and screenwriter. He co-founded schizoanalysis with Gilles Deleuze, and ecosophy with Arne N ...
: "We can clearly see that there is no bi-univocal correspondence between linear signifying links or archi-writing, depending on the author, and this multireferential, multi-dimensional machinic catalysis." This is explained, Dawkins maintains, by certain intellectuals' academic ambitions. Figures like Guattari or Lacan, according to Dawkins, have nothing to say but want to reap the benefits of reputation and fame that derive from a successful academic career: "Suppose you are an intellectual impostor with nothing to say, but with strong ambitions to succeed in academic life, collect a coterie of reverent disciples and have students around the world anoint your pages with respectful yellow highlighter. What kind of literary style would you cultivate? Not a lucid one, surely, for clarity would expose your lack of content."


Other fields

In his role as professor for public understanding of science, Dawkins has been a critic of
pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method. Pseudoscience is often characterized by contradictory, exaggerated or unfalsifiable clai ...
and
alternative medicine Alternative medicine is any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine despite lacking biological plausibility, testability, repeatability, or evidence from clinical trials. Complementary medicine (CM), complementary and a ...
. His 1998 book '' Unweaving the Rainbow'' considers
John Keats John Keats (31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English poet of the second generation of Romantic poets, with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. His poems had been in publication for less than four years when he died of tuberculos ...
's accusation that by explaining the
rainbow A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicoloured circular arc. Rainbows ...
,
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, theologian, and author (described in his time as a " natural philosopher"), widely recognised as one of the ...
diminished its beauty; Dawkins argues for the opposite conclusion. He suggests that deep space, the billions of years of life's evolution, and the microscopic workings of biology and heredity contain more beauty and wonder than do "myths" and "pseudoscience". For John Diamond's posthumously published ''Snake Oil'', a book devoted to debunking alternative medicine, Dawkins wrote a foreword in which he asserts that alternative medicine is harmful, if only because it distracts patients from more successful conventional treatments and gives people false hopes. Dawkins states that "There is no alternative medicine. There is only medicine that works and medicine that doesn't work." In his 2007 Channel 4 TV film ''The Enemies of Reason'', Dawkins concluded that Britain is gripped by "an epidemic of superstitious thinking". Continuing a long-standing partnership with
Channel 4 Channel 4 is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network operated by the state-owned Channel Four Television Corporation. It began its transmission on 2 November 1982 and was established to provide a fourth television servic ...
, Dawkins participated in a five-part television series, '' Genius of Britain'', along with fellow scientists Stephen Hawking, James Dyson,
Paul Nurse Sir Paul Maxime Nurse (born 25 January 1949) is an English geneticist, former President of the Royal Society and Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute. He was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine alon ...
, and Jim Al-Khalili. The series was first broadcast in June 2010, and focuses on major, British, scientific achievements throughout history. In 2014, he joined the global awareness movement Asteroid Day as a "100x Signatory".


Awards and recognition

He holds
honorary doctorates An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived all of the usual requirements. It is also known by the Latin phrases ''honoris causa'' ("for the sake of the honour") or '' ad hon ...
in science from the
University of Huddersfield , mottoeng = Thus not for you alone , established = 1825 – Huddersfield Science and Mechanics' Institute1992 – university status , type = Public , endowment = £2.47 million (2015) , chancellor = George W. Buckley , vice_chancel ...
,
University of Westminster , mottoeng = The Lord is our Strength , type = Public , established = 1838: Royal Polytechnic Institution 1891: Polytechnic-Regent Street 1970: Polytechnic of Central London 1992: University of Westminster , endowment = £5.1 million ...
,
Durham University , mottoeng = Her foundations are upon the holy hills ( Psalm 87:1) , established = (university status) , type = Public , academic_staff = 1,830 (2020) , administrative_staff = 2,640 (2018/19) , chancellor = Sir Thomas Allen , vice_ch ...
, the
University of Hull , mottoeng = Bearing the Torch f learning, established = 1927 – University College Hull1954 – university status , type = Public , endowment = £18.8 million (2016) , budget = £190 millio ...
, the
University of Antwerp The University of Antwerp ( nl, Universiteit Antwerpen) is a major Belgian university located in the city of Antwerp. The official abbreviation is ''UA'', but ''UAntwerpen'' is more recently used. The University of Antwerp has about 20,000 stud ...
, the
University of Oslo The University of Oslo ( no, Universitetet i Oslo; la, Universitas Osloensis) is a public research university located in Oslo, Norway. It is the highest ranked and oldest university in Norway. It is consistently ranked among the top univer ...
, the
University of Aberdeen The University of Aberdeen ( sco, University o' 'Aiberdeen; abbreviated as ''Aberd.'' in post-nominals; gd, Oilthigh Obar Dheathain) is a public research university in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is an ancient university founded in 1495 when Will ...
,
Open University The Open University (OU) is a British public research university and the largest university in the United Kingdom by number of students. The majority of the OU's undergraduate students are based in the United Kingdom and principally study of ...
, the
Vrije Universiteit Brussel The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) () is a Dutch and English-speaking research university located in Brussels, Belgium.The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is one of the five universities officially recognised by the Flemish government. listof a ...
, and the
University of Valencia The University of Valencia ( ca-valencia, Universitat de València ; also known as UV) is a public research university located in the city of Valencia, Spain. It is one of the oldest surviving universities in Spain, and the oldest in the Val ...
. He also holds honorary doctorates of letters from the
University of St Andrews (Aien aristeuein) , motto_lang = grc , mottoeng = Ever to ExcelorEver to be the Best , established = , type = Public research university Ancient university , endowment ...
and the
Australian National University The Australian National University (ANU) is a public research university located in Canberra, the capital of Australia. Its main campus in Acton encompasses seven teaching and research colleges, in addition to several national academies an ...
(HonLittD, 1996), and was elected Fellow of the
Royal Society of Literature The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) is a learned society founded in 1820, by King George IV, to "reward literary merit and excite literary talent". A charity that represents the voice of literature in the UK, the RSL has about 600 Fellows, ele ...
in 1997 and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2001. He is one of the patrons of the Oxford University Scientific Society. In 1987, Dawkins received a
Royal Society of Literature The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) is a learned society founded in 1820, by King George IV, to "reward literary merit and excite literary talent". A charity that represents the voice of literature in the UK, the RSL has about 600 Fellows, ele ...
award and a ''
Los Angeles Times The ''Los Angeles Times'' (abbreviated as ''LA Times'') is a daily newspaper that started publishing in Los Angeles in 1881. Based in the LA-adjacent suburb of El Segundo since 2018, it is the sixth-largest newspaper by circulation in the Un ...
'' Literary Prize for his book ''The Blind Watchmaker''. In the same year, he received a Sci. Tech Prize for Best Television Documentary Science Programme of the Year for his work on the BBC's ''
Horizon The horizon is the apparent line that separates the surface of a celestial body from its sky when viewed from the perspective of an observer on or near the surface of the relevant body. This line divides all viewing directions based on whether ...
'' episode ''The Blind Watchmaker''. In 1996, the
American Humanist Association The American Humanist Association (AHA) is a non-profit organization in the United States that advances secular humanism. The American Humanist Association was founded in 1941 and currently provides legal assistance to defend the constitutio ...
gave him their Humanist of the Year Award, but the award was withdrawn in 2021, with the statement that he "demean dmarginalized groups", including
transgender A transgender (often abbreviated as trans) person is someone whose gender identity or gender expression does not correspond with their sex assigned at birth. Many transgender people experience dysphoria, which they seek to alleviate through ...
people, using "the guise of scientific discourse". Other awards include the
Zoological Society of London The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. It was founded in 1826. Since 1828, it has maintained the London Zoo, and since 1931 Whipsnade Park. History On 29 ...
's
Silver Medal A silver medal in sports and other similar areas involving competition is a medal made of, or plated with, silver awarded to the second-place finisher, or runner-up, of contests or competitions such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, ...
(1989), the Finlay Innovation Award (1990), the Michael Faraday Award (1990), the Nakayama Prize (1994), the fifth
International Cosmos Prize The International Cosmos Prize was established in 1993, commemorating Expo '90 in Osaka, Japan. The objective of the prize was to develop the basic concept of Expo 90, "The Harmonious Coexistence between Nature and Mankind" and is awarded annual ...
(1997), the Kistler Prize (2001), the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic (2001), the 2001 and 2012 Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the
Freedom From Religion Foundation The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is an American nonprofit organization, which advocates for atheists, agnostics, and nontheists. Formed in 1976, FFRF promotes the separation of church and state, and challenges the legitimacy of man ...
, the Bicentennial Kelvin Medal of The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow (2002), the Golden Plate Award of the
American Academy of Achievement The American Academy of Achievement, colloquially known as the Academy of Achievement, is a non-profit educational organization that recognizes some of the highest achieving individuals in diverse fields and gives them the opportunity to meet o ...
(2006), and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest (2009). He was awarded the Deschner Award, named after German anti-clerical author Karlheinz Deschner. The
Committee for Skeptical Inquiry The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a program within the US non-profit organization Center for Inquiry (CFI), which seeks to "pro ...
(CSICOP) has awarded Dawkins their highest award ''In Praise of Reason'' (1992). Dawkins topped '' Prospect'' magazine's 2004 list of the top 100 public British intellectuals, as decided by the readers, receiving twice as many votes as the runner-up. He was shortlisted as a candidate in their 2008 follow-up poll. In a poll held by ''Prospect'' in 2013, Dawkins was voted the world's top thinker based on 65 names chosen by a largely US and UK-based expert panel. In 2005, the
Hamburg (male), (female) en, Hamburger(s), Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal ...
-based Alfred Toepfer Foundation awarded him its Shakespeare Prize in recognition of his "concise and accessible presentation of scientific knowledge". He won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science for 2006, as well as the Galaxy British Book Awards's Author of the Year Award for 2007. In the same year, he was listed by ''Time'' magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007, and was ranked 20th in ''
The Daily Telegraph ''The Daily Telegraph'', known online and elsewhere as ''The Telegraph'', is a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed across the United Kingdom and internationally. It was f ...
'' 2007 list of 100 greatest living geniuses. Since 2003, the Atheist Alliance International has awarded a prize during its annual conference, honouring an outstanding atheist whose work has done the most to raise public awareness of atheism during that year; it is known as the Richard Dawkins Award, in honour of Dawkins's own efforts. In February 2010, Dawkins was named to the
Freedom From Religion Foundation The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is an American nonprofit organization, which advocates for atheists, agnostics, and nontheists. Formed in 1976, FFRF promotes the separation of church and state, and challenges the legitimacy of man ...
's Honorary Board of distinguished achievers. In 2012, a Sri Lankan team of ichthyologists headed by Rohan Pethiyagoda named a new
genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms as well as viruses. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial n ...
of freshwater fish, ''
Dawkinsia ''Dawkinsia'' is a genus of cyprinid fishes from freshwater in South India and Sri Lanka. It was split off from genus ''Puntius'' in 2012. Etymology ''Dawkinsia'' is named after the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in recognition of his ...
'', in Dawkins's honor. (Members of this genus were formerly members of the genus ''
Puntius ''Puntius'' is a genus of small freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae native to South Asia and Mainland Southeast Asia, as well as Taiwan. Many species formerly placed in ''Puntius'' have been moved to other genera such as '' Barbodes'', '' D ...
'').


Personal life

Dawkins has been married three times and has a daughter. On 19 August 1967, Dawkins married ethologist Marian Stamp in the Protestant church in Annestown,
County Waterford County Waterford ( ga, Contae Phort Láirge) is a county in Ireland. It is in the province of Munster and is part of the South-East Region. It is named after the city of Waterford. Waterford City and County Council is the local authority for ...
, Ireland; they divorced in 1984. On 1 June 1984, he married Eve Barham (1951–1999) in Oxford. They had a daughter, Juliet Emma Dawkins (born 1984, Oxford). Dawkins and Barham divorced. In 1992, he married actress Lalla Ward in Kensington and Chelsea, London. Dawkins met her through their mutual friend
Douglas Adams Douglas Noel Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was an English author and screenwriter, best known for '' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy''. Originally a 1978 BBC radio comedy, ''The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'' developed into a ...
, who had worked with her on the BBC's ''
Doctor Who ''Doctor Who'' is a British science fiction television series broadcast by the BBC since 1963. The series depicts the adventures of a Time Lord called the Doctor, an extraterrestrial being who appears to be human. The Doctor explores th ...
''. Dawkins and Ward separated in 2016 and they later described the separation as "entirely amicable". He identifies as an
atheist Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there no ...
who is a "cultural
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation, in the context of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. It is one of th ...
," associated with the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the established Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Brit ...
, and a " secular Christian". On 6 February 2016, Dawkins suffered a minor haemorrhagic
stroke A stroke is a medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain causes cell death. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic, due to lack of blood flow, and hemorrhagic, due to bleeding. Both cause parts of the brain to stop func ...
while at home. Dawkins reported later that same year that he had almost completely recovered. Dawkins was featured as the voice of Q42/Computer in the 2020 American thriller film '' Intersect''.


Media


Selected publications

* * * *
Book text
* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Documentary films

* '' Nice Guys Finish First'' (1986) * ''
The Blind Watchmaker ''The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design'' is a 1986 book by Richard Dawkins, in which the author presents an explanation of, and argument for, the theory of evolution by means of natural select ...
'' (1987) * '' Growing Up in the Universe'' (1991) * '' Break the Science Barrier'' (1996) * '' The Atheism Tapes'' (2004) * '' The Big Question'' (2005) – Part 3 of the TV series, titled "Why Are We Here?" * '' The Root of All Evil?'' (2006) * '' The Enemies of Reason'' (2007) * '' The Genius of Charles Darwin'' (2008) * '' Faith School Menace?'' (2010) * '' Beautiful Minds'' (April 2012) – BBC4 documentary * '' Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life'' (2012) * '' The Unbelievers'' (2013)


Other appearances

Dawkins has made many television appearances on news shows providing his political opinions and especially his views as an atheist. He has been interviewed on the radio, often as part of his book tours. He has debated many religious figures. He has made many university speaking appearances, again often in coordination with his book tours. As of 2016, he has over 60 credits in the
Internet Movie Database IMDb (an abbreviation of Internet Movie Database) is an online database of information related to films, television series, home videos, video games, and streaming content online – including cast, production crew and personal biographies, p ...
where he appeared as himself. * '' Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed'' (2008) – as himself, presented as a leading scientific opponent of intelligent design in a film that contends that the mainstream science establishment suppresses academics who believe they see evidence of intelligent design in nature and who criticise evidence supporting Darwinian evolution * ''
Doctor Who ''Doctor Who'' is a British science fiction television series broadcast by the BBC since 1963. The series depicts the adventures of a Time Lord called the Doctor, an extraterrestrial being who appears to be human. The Doctor explores th ...
'': " The Stolen Earth" (2008) – as himself * '' Inside Nature's Giants'' (2009–12) – as guest expert * ''
The Simpsons ''The Simpsons'' is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of American life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Li ...
'': " Black Eyed, Please" (2013) – appears in Ned Flanders' dream of Hell; provided voice as a demon version of himself * '' Endless Forms Most Beautiful'' (2015) – by
Nightwish Nightwish is a Finnish symphonic metal band from Kitee. The band was formed in 1996 by lead songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former lead singer Tarja Turunen. The band soon picked up drummer Jukka N ...
: Finnish
symphonic metal Symphonic metal is a cross-generic style designation for the symphonic subsets of heavy metal music subgenres. It is used to denote any metal band that makes use of symphonic or orchestral elements. The style features the heavy drums and guitar ...
band Nightwish had Dawkins as a guest star on the album. He provides narration on two tracks: "Shudder Before the Beautiful", in which he opens the album with one of his own quotes, and "The Greatest Show on Earth", inspired by and named after his book '' The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution'', and in which he quotes ''
On the Origin of Species ''On the Origin of Species'' (or, more completely, ''On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life''),The book's full original title was ''On the Origin of Species by Me ...
'' by
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin ( ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, widely known for his contributions to evolutionary biology. His proposition that all species of life have descended ...
. He subsequently performed his parts live with Nightwish on 19 December 2015 at the
Wembley Arena Wembley Arena (originally the Empire Pool, now known as OVO Arena Wembley for sponsorship reasons) is an indoor arena next to Wembley Stadium in Wembley, London, England, used for music, comedy, family entertainment and sport. The 12,500- ...
in London; the concert was later released as a part of a live album/DVD titled '' Vehicle of Spirit''.


Notes

a. W. D. Hamilton influenced Dawkins and the influence can be seen throughout Dawkins's book ''The Selfish Gene''. They became friends at Oxford and following Hamilton's death in 2000, Dawkins wrote his obituary and organised a
secular Secularity, also the secular or secularness (from Latin ''saeculum'', "worldly" or "of a generation"), is the state of being unrelated or neutral in regards to religion. Anything that does not have an explicit reference to religion, either negativ ...
memorial service. b. The debate ended with the motion "That the doctrine of creation is more valid than the theory of evolution" being defeated by 198 votes to 115. Debate no longer available at that website. For the debate audio in video format in two segments, see part 1 at and part 2 at


References


Bibliography

* * * * * *


External links

* The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Richard Dawkins
Personal Website * * * * *
Richard Dawkins – latest news
at ''
The Independent ''The Independent'' is a British online newspaper. It was established in 1986 as a national morning printed paper. Nicknamed the ''Indy'', it began as a broadsheet and changed to tabloid format in 2003. The last printed edition was publis ...
''
Richard Dawkins
at ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid ...
''
Richard Dawkins
at
Big Think Big Think is a multimedia web portal founded in 2007 by Victoria Brown and Peter Hopkins. The website is a collection of interviews, presentations, and round table discussions with experts from a wide range of fields. Victoria Brown is the acting ...
{{DEFAULTSORT:Dawkins, Richard 1941 births 20th-century atheists 20th-century British biologists 20th-century English male writers 20th-century English non-fiction writers 21st-century atheists 21st-century British biologists 21st-century English male writers 21st-century English writers Alumni of Balliol College, Oxford Articles containing video clips Atheist feminists English atheist writers British atheism activists British critics of Islam British secularists British zoologists Critics of religions Critics of alternative medicine Critics of conspiracy theories Critics of creationism Critics of neoconservatism Critics of new religious movements Critics of postmodernism Critics of the Catholic Church Education activists English biologists English activists English atheists English feminists English humanists English memoirists English republicans English sceptics English science writers English social commentators Ethologists Evolutionary biologists Evolutionary psychologists Fellows of New College, Oxford Fellows of the Royal Society Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature Former Anglicans Genetics education Living people Male feminists Modern synthesis (20th century) New Atheism New College of the Humanities People educated at Chafyn Grove School People educated at Oundle School People stripped of awards Philosophers of culture Philosophers of education Philosophers of science Psychology writers Recipients of the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic Science activists Secular humanists Simonyi Professors for the Public Understanding of Science Social critics Theorists on Western civilization University of California, Berkeley faculty White Kenyan people Writers about religion and science Writers from Nairobi