Richard Dawkins - Evolutionary Biologist, Zoologist, Ethnologist, Writer and more...
For so many years, since my onset into adulthood, I have admired and been inspired by Richard Dawkins. His brilliance, intellect, education and accomplishments. His teaching, his belief in reason and rationale, which I share, is phenomenal. He has been called one of the most brilliant minds of the Twentieth and Twenty First Centuries.
His courage, his conviction, his integrity, his principle, his strength of character, his decency, his honour, his curiosity, his sense of humour and playfulness, his reserve, his respectful nature, his caring and sensitivity, his honesty, his love of creativity and evolution, as well and so much more, make him one of my Heroes. To me, he also epitomizes my favourite type of man, the Renaissance Man. The fact that he is so handsome, is a bonus.
I have been fortunate enough to meet him and I was and remain, in awe of this inspired and inspiring man.
My personalised signed copies of his books are no more. My memories and the impact he has upon me and my life, are everlasting.
Who is Richard Dawkins?
Richard Dawkins is an English ethologist and biologist who has made significant contributions to the field of evolutionary biology. He emphasized on the role of the gene in evolution and developed the new discipline of genetic ethology. His interest in ethology—the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour—stemmed from his childhood experiences as he had grown up in Kenya, observing the wildlife around him. Animal behaviour fascinated him greatly and it developed into a life-long interest which shaped his future career. He was brought up in a religious atmosphere though he later renounced religion and became an atheist when he realized that the theory of evolution provided better answers to life’s complexities as compared to religion. After studying zoology at Oxford he became a professor and also edited a number of journals. An ardent Darwinist, he is best known for his gene-centred reformulation of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. He is a prominent critic of religion and believes that religion is both a source of conflict and a justification for belief without evidence. He has authored several books and has also produced numerous television documentaries. Dawkins founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS), a non-profit organization to finance scientific educational programs and research on the psychology of belief and religion.
Clinton Richard Dawkins (March 26, 1941) ethologist, zoologist, and evolutionary biologist. He was born in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa. Although his parents are from England. Richard was born in African lands because at that time his father, Clinton John Dawkins, was engaged as a farmer, before that he had been rendered his service to the fatherland as a soldier in Nyasaland (now Malawi). And his mother was Jean Mary Vyvyan Dawkins. The family enjoyed a well-off position. They were also very educated and enlightened, a question that Richard inherited. His taste for biology was great, he spent his time reading natural science books and exploring every corner of the farm.
He was educated under the precepts of the Anglican religion, but without falling into radicalism, from the age of nine began to question the divine existence. Although at first, he continued to lukewarmly follow the argument of design, the uses and customs of Anglican ecclesiastics seemed absurd to him and had more to do with dictating morals than with God. So, at the age of sixteen, he studied evolution, and became completely detached from religion and embraced the idea that evolution could account for the complexity of life in purely material terms.
At this time the young man was already living in England with his parents and attended the Oundle school. As soon as he graduated, he began studying zoology at Balliol College. Once there, he was a student of the ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen, winner of a Nobel Prize in Medicine. He was a research student under the tutelage of Tinbergen. In 1962 he graduated and then completed his master’s degree in 1966. Here he also excelled as a research student. He was for a period of almost twenty years with his wife Marian Stamp. Then he married Eve Barham, with whom he had a daughter: Juliet.
After a few years, he divorced. In 1992 he married for the third time with the actress Lalla Ward. She has illustrated several of his books. Returning to his professional career we must say that he developed for a long time as a professor of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley. Simultaneously began his career as a lecturer, especially was hired by the University of Oxford. In 1995 he moved to the Charles Simonyi Chair of Science Dissemination. Since 1970 he has been a member of the New College, Oxford.
He has offered several lectures in important knowledge centers, such as: Henry Sidgwick Memorial Lecture (1989), the first Erasmus Darwin Memorial Lecture (1990), the Michael Faraday Lecture (1991), the Huxley Memorial Lecture (1992), the Irvine Memorial Lecture (1997), the Sheldon Doyle Lecture (1999), the Tinbergen Lecture (2000) and the Tanner Lecture (2003). Among others. He was a founder of the scientific journal Episteme Journal in 2002 and has also collaborated in the edition of Encarta Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Evolution. In short, he has written in several columns, the most outstanding was that of the Free Inquiry magazine of the Council for Secular Humanism.
He also chaired the biological sciences section of the British Society for Scientific Progress. His great mastery and popularity have earned him several management positions in various organizations. He served as a jury of awards such as the Faraday Prize of the Royal Society and the British Academy Award. He participated in a conference that brings together the most outstanding personalities of the scientific community. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, he was named doctor honoris causa by the University of Valencia.
Dawkins defended the vision of the evolution centered on the genes, a vision exposed his book the egoistic gene (1976), or the extended phenotype (1982). Now, as an ethologist interested in animal behavior and its relationship with natural selection, his thesis was that the gene is the main unit of selection of evolution. In his books he has used the genocentric vision, explaining that it is a useful model of evolution in some cases. Another contribution of Dawkins was the use of the term meme to extend the principles of Darwin and explain the dissemination of ideas and cultural phenomena, this gave way to the theory of memetics. This theory has been criticized for being too reductionist. One of the people who have most questioned and debated with him has been the philosopher Mary Midgley.
He was present at the XXXIV Convention of American Atheists in March 2008. He is one of the critics of the most famous creationism in the world. In The Blind Watchmaker faithfully exposes such criticism. For the above is considered an atheist. However, he says he is agnostic. He is an honorary member of the National Lay Society. Dawkins is known for his rejection of religious extremism, from Islamist terrorism to Christian fundamentalism. In educational matters ensures that education must be detached from religious dogma. In the year 2006, he made a documentary on a channel entitled The root of all evil speaks about the malign influence of organized religion in society.
Dawkins published that same year, The Mirage of God which was a campaign against religion. He had the opportunity to share some theses of this book in the conference Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason, and Survival. Dawkins has promoted various initiatives in favor of atheism: Out Campaign. This has won him hundreds of critics. One of them, Alister McGrath, promoter of “scientific theology” said he had no knowledge of Christian theology. Other characters like Keith Ward, Christian philosopher attack their ideas. In contrast, the defenders of Dawkins claim that critics do not understand Dawkins’ argument.
On February 23, 2012, he held a major debate with Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, this was held at the Sheldonian Theater of the University of Oxford. The debate occupied all the theater and had to be broadcast live on some screens. He has also debated, on several occasions, with Oxford Mathematics Professor and philosopher of science John Lennox. Dawkins has been uneasy about the exponential growth of the human population and the problem of overpopulation. So, he is critical of Catholic positions against family planning and population control.
Dawkins was elected a Member of the Royal Literary Society in 1997 and of the Royal Society in 2001. He has received awards at the Royal Society Literature Award, the Literary Prize of the Los Angeles Times, the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Prize Michael Faraday, the Nakayama Award, the Humanist of the Year Award, the fifth International Cosmos Award, the Kistler Prize, the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic and the Kelvin Bicentennial Medal. He was also named the author of the year at the British Book Awards.
Richard Dawkins Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
Born on March 26, 1941, Clinton Richard Dawkins is an evolutional biologist, author, and ethnologist. He is a strong critic of creationism, intelligent design and against alternative medicine. A person who believes it high time atheist stood against the church influence in governance and science. He rose in popularity when he published the book The Selfish Gene in 1976. The book which was gene evolution centred and came out with the term meme. His other popular books include The Extended Phenotype, 1982 and The Blind Watchmaker 1986.
In the Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins argues against the existence of any supernatural creator and believes evolution theories gives a better explanation for the complexity of life than religion. His argument was extended in the book The God Delusion, 2006 which insist that there is no such thing as supernatural creator and calls religious faith a delusion. An award-winning writer is also an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, 2006.
Richard Dawkins was born to Jean Mary Vyvyan and Clinton John Dawkins in Nairobi, Kenya. He had a younger sister. With his parent interest in natural sciences and father was an agricultural, civil servant, Dawkins grew up around animals, and that made him study animal life and behaviour. At age eight he moved with his family to England in 1949. Growing up, Dawkins upheld the Christian faith until he found better answers to the complexity of life with the evolution theories than religion ever gave him. Since then he never believes in anything called god.
Dawkins had his early education at the public school, Oundle School, Northamptonshire from 1954 to 1959. He graduated from the Balliol College, Oxford, in 1962 where he studied zoology under the tutelage of renowned ethologist, Nikolaas Tinbergen. He later received an MA and DPhil degrees in 1966 after his research studies under the supervision of Tinbergen. Dawkins had previously read Why I Am not a Christian while at Oundle School which had some influence on his previous belief in the existence of a supernatural creator.
After his MA and DPhil, Richard Dawkins remained as a research assistant at the Balliol College for a year. There, Dawkins researched into decisions making of an animal. His supervisor, Tinbergen had previously investigated into the study of animal behaviour with a focus on instinct, learning, and choice.
Richard Dawkins started his career as a professor of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley from 1967 to 1969. While there, he joined an anti-war protest of the students against the Vietnam War. He returned later in 1970 to the University of Oxford as a lecturer. Two decades on, he became a reader of zoology would in 1995 be appointed by the University as a Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and held the position to 2008.
The position endowed by Charles Simonyi intends that the holder "be expected to make important contributions to the public understanding of some scientific field.” He also made it clear that the first person to assume that position be Stephen Dawkins. Dawkins he also since 1970 been a fellow and later an emeritus fellow at the New College, Oxford. He had given several lectures including the maiden Erasmus Darwin Memorial Lecture, 1990, the Irvine Memorial Lecture, 1997, the Sheldon Doyle Lecture 1999, and the Tinbergen Lecture 2004.
Richard Dawkins did a lot of works in evolutionary biology, especially emphasising on genes as an essential component in a unit of selection in evolution. He explicitly explains this factor in his books like The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype. In The Selfish Gene, he argues that gene cannot be an independent unit because it cannot survive alone, but need to corporate with other genes to build an individual. It is in this book that he came up with the term meme.
The Extended Phenotype pinpoints that all other genes are part of the environment they adapt from an individual genes perspective.
Stance Against Religion & Creationism
Richard Dawkins has been a strong critic of religion and saw it as a delusion. Though he was once a Christian and baptised into the Church of England, he became skeptical about religion after learning about Darwinism and getting a better understanding of the complexity of human and nature through science. Being an atheist, he believes in no God but instead holds the view that God could be among individuals sophisticated in science.
He also maintains that physicist just used God as a metaphor just because of the overwhelming and complex nature of the universe but not a supernatural being who oversees the activities of the world, forgives sin or reincarnates people when they die. His book The God Delusion gained him prominence on the debate about science and religion.
Richard Dawkins has funded many atheist organisations and individuals. Aside from religion, he is also against the concept of creationism. He does not understand why people believe that a “deity created the universe, humanity, and life.” He believes in evolution and states his mind clearly in his book The Blind Watchmaker. He is also of intelligent design in science education, pseudoscience, and alternative medicine.
Richard Dawkins came out with his foundation the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) in 2006 aimed at financing research works on the psychology of belief and religion. It is also to found scientific programs and materials, support charity organisations which are secular in belief. The foundation in 2016 merged with the Centre for Inquiry and Dawkins serves as a member of the board of directors.
Awards And Recognition
Richard Dawkins has received honorary doctorates in science from institutions like theUniversity of Huddersfield, University of Hull, University of Antwerp, Durham University and theUniversity of Westminster. Other include honorary doctorates from theUniversity of Aberdeen, Open University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel among several others. He was awarded a Royal Society of Literature Award, 1987, a Silver Medal by the Zoological Society of London, 1989, Finlay Innovation Award, 1990, the Nakayama Prize (1994), Humanist Award by The American Humanist Association, 1996, the Bicentennial Kelvin Medal of the Royal Philosophical Society if Glasgow, 2002 and Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom from Religion Foundation in 2012 and many others.
Richard Dawkins is a three-time divorcee and has a daughter from the three marriages. His first marriage was to ethnologist Mariam Stamp on August 19, 1967, and divorced in 1984. He then married Eve Barham on June 1, 1984, and had a daughter Juliet Emma Dawkins but also divorced. His last marriage was to Lalla Ward in 1992 but also separated in 2016.