Richard Dawkins

  • English scientist
  • Born March 26, 1941

Clinton Richard Dawkins, (born 26 March 1941) is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. Dawkins first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme. With his book The Extended Phenotype (1982), he introduced into evolutionary biology the influential concept that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not necessarily limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment.

I don't know what to think about magic and fairy tales.

There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?

For me, the level at which natural selection causes the phenomenon of adaptation is the level of the replicator - the gene.

I'm a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims.

I detest 'Jingle Bells,' 'White Christmas,' 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,' and the obscene spending bonanza that nowadays seems to occupy not just December, but November and much of October, too.

Even if you believe a creator god invented the laws of physics, would you so insult him as to suggest that he might capriciously and arbitrarily violate them in order to walk on water, or turn water into wine as a cheap party trick at a wedding?

The history of science has been one long series of violent brainstorms, as successive generations have come to terms with increasing levels of queerness in the universe.

If you read Islamic creationist literature, it's pretty much lifted from American evangelical literature.

It's a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom and knowledge, power, couldn't think of a better way to forgive us our sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself.

Do you advocate the Ten Commandments as a guide to the good life? Then I can only presume that you don't know the Ten Commandments.

Segregation has no place in the education system.

For the first half of geological time our ancestors were bacteria. Most creatures still are bacteria, and each one of our trillions of cells is a colony of bacteria.

The usefulness of science is sometimes exaggerated. You'd never talk about music being useful or art being useful.

We should take astrology seriously. No, I don't mean we should believe in it. I am talking about fighting it seriously instead of humouring it as a piece of harmless fun.

George Bush is a catastrophe for the world. And a dream for Bin Laden.

Far from being demeaning to human spiritual values, scientific rationalism is the crowning glory of the human spirit.

Why are we so obsessed with monogamous fidelity?

There are quite a lot of YouTube clips of me that have gone viral. One that I think of is of a young woman at a lecture I was giving - she came from Liberty University, which is a ludicrous religious institution. She said, 'What if you are wrong?' and I answered that rather briefly, and that's gone viral.

Rather than say he's an atheist, a friend of mine says, 'I'm a tooth fairy agnostic,' meaning he can't disprove God but thinks God is about as likely as the tooth fairy.

In the 1920s and 1930s, scientists from both the political left and right would not have found the idea of designer babies particularly dangerous - though, of course, they would not have used that phrase.

I want very much to communicate science to as wide an audience as possible, but not at a cost of dumbing down, and not at a cost in getting things right.

You can't even begin to understand biology, you can't understand life, unless you understand what it's all there for, how it arose - and that means evolution.

Science has taught us, against all intuition, that apparently solid things like crystals and rocks are really almost entirely composed of empty space. And the familiar illustration is the nucleus of an atom is a fly in the middle of a sports stadium, and the next atom is in the next sports stadium.

Islands are natural workshops of evolution.

We have a huge amount of DNA in common with jellyfish.

If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.

Notoriously, the United States is the most religious of the Western advanced nations. It's a bit mysterious why that is.

In the case of Stalinism, people actually distorted science because it was for the good of the Communist Party.

I am one of those scientists who feels that it is no longer enough just to get on and do science. We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organised ignorance.

Christopher Hitchens was a great warrior, a magnificent orator, a pugilist and a gentleman. He was kind, but he took no prisoners when arguing with idiots.

If we are too friendly to nice, decent bishops, we run the risk of buying into the fiction that there's something virtuous about believing things because of faith rather than because of evidence. We run the risk of betraying scientific enlightenment.

We have the power to turn against our creators.

Presumably what happened to Jesus was what happens to all of us when we die. We decompose. Accounts of Jesus's resurrection and ascension are about as well-documented as Jack and the Beanstalk.

Evil is a miscellaneous collection of nasty things that nasty people do.

How can you take seriously someone who likes to believe something because he finds it 'comforting'?

Secularism is categorically not saying that the religious may not speak out publicly or have a say in public life. It is about saying that religion alone should not confer a privileged say in public life, or greater influence on it. It really is as simple as that.