Richard Dawkins: Biography highlights

Richard Dawkins is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science writer who has broadened our understanding of the genetic origin of our species and has helped lay readers understand complex scientific concepts.

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Full biography of Richard Dawkins

About Richard Dawkins

He holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

Dawkins is an atheist and humanist, a Vice President of the British Humanist Association and supporter of the Brights movement. He is well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design.

He first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centered view of evolution and introduced the term meme into the lexicon, helping found memetics. He defines the concept of meme as a self-replicating unit of culture – an idea, a chain letter, a catchy tune, an urban legend — which is passed person-to-person, its longevity based on its ability to lodge in the brain and inspire transmission to others. The concept of memes has itself proven highly contagious, inspiring countless accounts and explanations of idea propagation in the information age.

In his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker, he argued against the watchmaker analogy, an argument for the existence of a supernatural creator based upon the complexity of living organisms. Instead, he described evolutionary processes as analogous to a blind watchmaker. His ideas laid out in The Selfish Gene were further fleshed out in The Extended Phenotype: the rather radical notion that Darwinian selection happens not at the level of the individual, but at the level of our DNA. The implication: We evolved for only one purpose — to serve our genes.

In his 2006 book The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion—a fixed false belief. As of January 2010 the English-language version has sold more than two million copies and had been translated into 31 languages, making it his most popular book to date.

In recent years, Dawkins has become outspoken in his atheism, coining the word “bright” (as an alternate to atheist), and encouraging fellow non-believers to stand up and be identified.

He makes regular television and radio appearances and has been referred to in the media as “Darwin’s Rottweiler”, a reference to English biologist T. H. Huxley, who was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his advocacy of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary ideas.

 

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1/4 videos
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Why the universe seems so strange | Richard Dawkins
Why the universe seems so strange | Richard Dawkins
22:43
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Militant atheism | Richard Dawkins
Militant atheism | Richard Dawkins
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Richard Dawkins (October 31, 2017) -  Richard Dawkins Lecture on Evolution & Origin of Life. mp4
Richard Dawkins (October 31, 2017) - Richard Dawkins Lecture on Evolution & Origin of Life. mp4
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Richard Dawkins INR7
Richard Dawkins INR7
01:15:52
The God Delusion

A Brief Candle in the Dark is the hugely entertaining sequel of the New York Times bestselling memoir An Appetite for Wonder. Richard Dawkins delves deeply into his intellectual life spent kick-starting new conversations about science, clture, and religion and writing yet another of the most audacious and widely read books of the twentieth'

Bill Maher

'Richard always writes like he's telling you a story, which is why so many of us non-science people understand science better than we used to. But when the story is his own life, it's doubly compelling.'

Brainpickings.org

'Fantastic. [Offers] a fascinating glimpse of how one of today's most influential scientific minds blossomed into himself.'

Maria Popova
London Evening Standard

'This first volume of Dawkins's autobiography ... comes to life when describing the competitive collaboration and excitement among the outstanding ethologists and zoologists at Oxford in the Seventies-which stimulated his most famous book, The Selfish Gene.'

The Independent

'The Richard Dawkins that emerges here is a far cry from the strident, abrasive caricature beloved of lazy journalists ... There is no score-settling, but a generous appreciation and admiration of the qualities of others, as well as a transparent love of life, literature - and science.'

Publishers Weekly

Praise for Brief Candle in the Dark: '...fascinating, thoroughly readable, and joyful. . . . Dawkins offers great insight into the nature of science and introduces readers to many of the major players responsible for creating the field of evolutionary biology.'

American Atheists, Inc.

'Sometimes funny, sometimes fascinating, and always interesting, Dawkins takes us through his later years, revealing the humanity behind the man like never before. Brief Candle in the Dark reminds us, warmly and eloquently, that the greatest accomplishments are achieved when science is bolstered by good will and kindness.'

David Silverman
President
NPR

'[An Appetite for Wonder is] a memoir that is funny and modest, absorbing and playful. Dawkins has written a marvelous love letter to science... and for this, the book will touch scientists and science-loving persons. ... an enchanting memoir to read, one that I recommend highly.'

The Guardian

'Surprisingly intimate and moving. ... He is here to find out what makes us tick: to cut through the nonsense to the real stuff.'

Skeptical Inquirer

'Displays all the intelligence, insight, clear-thinking, literary quality, and at time provocative observations we have come to expect from Dawkins.'

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