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Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (3) | Personal Quotes (10)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 26 March 1941Nairobi, Kenya
Birth NameClinton Richard Dawkins
Nicknames Darwin's Rottweiler
Dr Why
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Richard Dawkins was born on March 26, 1941 in Nairobi, Kenya as Clinton Richard Dawkins. He is a writer and actor, known for Nerdstock: Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People (2010), Root of All Evil? (2006) and Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008). He has been married to Lalla Ward since 1992. He was previously married to Eve Barham and Marian Stamp.

Spouse (3)

Lalla Ward (1992 - present)
Eve Barham (1 June 1984 - ?) (divorced) (1 child)
Marian Stamp (19 August 1967 - 1984) (divorced)

Trade Mark (4)

Grey hair, brown eyes, and glasses
Wears neck ties with animal designs on them
English accent
High pitched voice

Trivia (3)

His wife, the former actress Lalla Ward (The Hon. Mrs. Dawkins), is now an illustrator and illustrates his books.
He holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford.
Author of "The Blind watchmaker" and other books that often debunk religious ideas and explore evolution.

Personal Quotes (10)

I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behavior. However, as we shall see, there are special circumstances in which a gene can achieve its own selfish goals best by fostering a limited form of altruism at the level of individual animals. 'Special' and 'limited' are important words in the last sentence. Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts that simply do not make evolutionary sense. This brings me to the first point I want to make about what [The Selfish Gene] is not. I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave. I stress this, because I know I am in danger of being misunderstood by those people, all too numerous, who cannot distinguish a statement of belief in what is the case from an advocacy of what ought to be the case. My own feeling is that a human society based simply on the gene's law of universal ruthless selfishness would be a very nasty society in which to live. But unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop it being true. This book is mainly intended to be interesting, but if you would extract a moral from it, read it as a warning. Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to.
[Refuting Paley's "Watchmaker Analogy", which is often used as a defense of Creationism] Of all the trillions of trillions of ways of putting together the parts of a body, only an infinitesimal minority would live, seek food, eat, and reproduce. True, there are many different ways of being alive - at least ten million different ways if we count the number of distinct species alive today - but, however many ways there may be of being alive, it is certain that there are vastly more ways of being dead! We can safely conclude that living bodies are billions of times too complicated - too statistically improbable - to have come into being by sheer chance. How, then, did they come into being? The answer is that chance enters into the story, but not a single, monolithic act of chance. Instead, a whole series of tiny chance steps, each one small enough to be a believable product of its predecessor, occurred one after the other in sequence. These small steps of chance are caused by genetic mutations, random changes - mistakes really - in the genetic material. They give rise to changes in the existing bodily structure.
I've always thought of Douglas (Douglas Adams) more as a writer of "science comedy", comedy of a sophisticated, scientific kind, than as a writer of science fiction. I'm not an aficionado of science fiction, although the genre has some value in teaching science and stretching the scientific imagination. But so many of Douglas's jokes are scientific jokes, and you don't get them unless you know the science. The first thing you notice about his writing is the verbal repartee. When I read Dirk Gently, every sentence had me laughing. It's fascinating, because it's a mixture of science fiction, comedy, ghost story, detective story, even a certain amount of literary scholarship. Douglas read English Literature at Cambridge and the set-piece about academic life in Dirk Gently is gorgeous.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency was the only book I've ever read where I turned back to page one and read it all the way through again. I felt there was so much more I could get out of it.
Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.
Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse. And New Statesman sees fit to print him as a serious journalist.
'A' believes in fairies. 'B' believes in winged horses. Criticise 'A' and you're rational. Criticise 'B' and you're a bigoted racist Islamophobe.
[on the belief in a God] There are all sorts of things we can't be sure of - we can't be sure there are no leprechauns and fairies. Science in the future is going to be revealing all sorts of things which we have no idea of at present, but it's extremely unlikely that it would happen to home in on an idea from a Bronze Age tribe in the desert.
Well, what if I'm wrong? I mean, anybody could be wrong. We could all be wrong about the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Pink Unicorn and the Flying Teapot. You happened to have been brought up, I would presume, in the Christian Faith. You know what it's like not to believe in a particular Faith because you're not a Muslim, you're not a Hindu. Why aren't you a Hindu? Because you happened to have been brought up in America, not in India. If you'd been brought up in India, you'd be a Hindu. If you were brought up in Denmark in the time of the Vikings, you'd be believing in Wotan and Thor. If you were brought up in Classical Greece, you'd be believing in Zeus. If you were brought up in Central Africa, you'd be believing in the Great Ju-Ju up the Mountain. There's no particular reason to pick on the Judeo-Christian God, in which by the sheerest accident you happen to have been brought up, and ask me the question "What if I'm wrong?". What if you're wrong about the Great Ju-Ju at the Bottom of the Sea? [Thunderous applause]
[on "The Big Debate" with Jonathan Dimbleby] The penalty for apostasy in the Christian religion is not death, there is no penalty for apostasy at all in the Christian religion.

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