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Richard Dawkins

Birthdate: 26. March 1941

Richard Dawkins, 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 , 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. In 2006, he founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Dawkins is known as an outspoken atheist. He is well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design. In The Blind Watchmaker , he argues against the watchmaker analogy, 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, mutation, and selection are unguided by any designer. In The God Delusion , Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion.

Dawkins has been awarded many prestigious academic and writing awards, and he makes regular television, radio, and Internet appearances, predominantly discussing his books, his atheism, and his ideas and opinions as a public intellectual. Wikipedia

Works

The God Delusion
The God Delusion
Richard Dawkins
The Selfish Gene
The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins
A Devil's Chaplain
A Devil's Chaplain
Richard Dawkins

„So-called alternative medicine either hasn’t been tested or it has failed its tests.“

—  Richard Dawkins

The Enemies of Reason (August 2007)
Context: If any remedy is tested under controlled scientific conditions and proved to be effective, it will cease to be alternative and will simply become medicine. So-called alternative medicine either hasn’t been tested or it has failed its tests.

„What worries me about religion is that it teaches people to be satisfied with not understanding the world they live in.“

—  Richard Dawkins, book The God Delusion

Heart Of The Matter: God Under The Microscope | BBC (1996)
Variant: [... ] one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.
Source: The God Delusion

„The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust.“

—  Richard Dawkins, book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

(p. 8)
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (2009)
Context: Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips... continue the list as long as desired.

„The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.“

—  Richard Dawkins

Source: River out of Eden (1995), pp. 131–132
Context: The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. [... ] In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.

„We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.“

—  Richard Dawkins, book Unweaving the Rainbow

Dawkins has stated on many occasions that this passage will be read at his funeral.
Unweaving the Rainbow (1998)
Context: We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?

„No matter how much knowledge and wisdom you acquire during your life, not one jot will be passed on to your children by genetic means. Each new generation starts from scratch.“

—  Richard Dawkins, book The Selfish Gene

Source: The Selfish Gene (1976, 1989), Ch. 3. Immortal Coils
Context: Genes do indirectly control the manufacture of bodies, and the influence is strictly one way: acquired characteristics are not inherited. No matter how much knowledge and wisdom you acquire during your life, not one jot will be passed on to your children by genetic means. Each new generation starts from scratch.

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„Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have a chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.“

—  Richard Dawkins, book The Selfish Gene

Source: The Selfish Gene (1976, 1989), Ch. 1. Why Are People?
Context: 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 a chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.

„The first cause cannot have been an intelligence, let alone an intelligence that answers prayers and enjoys being worshiped.“

—  Richard Dawkins

Intelligent, creative, complex, statistically improbable things come late into the universe, as the product of evolution or some other process of gradual escalation from simple beginnings. They come late into the universe and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.
The Huffington Post, 23/10/2006 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-dawkins/why-there-almost-certainl_b_32164.html
Why There Almost Certainly Is No God (2006)

„The universe does not owe you a sense of hope.“

—  Richard Dawkins

The Big Questions (2008)
Context: "The universe does not owe you a sense of hope. It could be that the world, the universe, is a totally hopeless place. I don't as a matter of fact think it is, but even if it were - that would not be a good reason for believing in God. You cannot say "I believe in X", whatever X is - God or anything else - "because that gives me hope". You have to say "I believe in X because there is some evidence for X". In the case of God - there is not a tiny shred of evidence for the existence of any kind of god.” … “There's plenty of reason for hope in a Godless world. The universe is a beautiful place. The world is a beautiful place. To understand it in a clear-eyed, open-eyed way; to look out at the world and to really understand why we exist, what it's all about - that is a hugely uplifting feeling; That really does give a sense of worth to life, even if life itself is finite, as I believe it is. Nevertheless, it is not a hopeless life without a god, and to re-divert to my earlier point, even if it were - then it's just illogical to say that that gives you evidence for the belief in God." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of-8Q3HySjE&t=44m08s

„The evolution of the capacity to simulate seems to have culminated in subjective consciousness. Why this should have happened is, to me, the most profound mystery facing modern biology.“

—  Richard Dawkins, book The Selfish Gene

Source: The Selfish Gene (1976, 1989), Ch. 4. The Gene machine
Context: Survival machines that can simulate the future are one jump ahead of survival machines that who can only learn of the basis of trial and error. The trouble with overt trial is that it takes time and energy. The trouble with overt error is that it is often fatal.... The evolution of the capacity to simulate seems to have culminated in subjective consciousness. Why this should have happened is, to me, the most profound mystery facing modern biology.

„However difficult those simple beginnings may be to accept, they are a whole lot easier to accept than complicated beginnings. Complicated things come into the universe late, as a consequence of slow, gradual, incremental steps. God, if he exists, would have to be a very, very, very complicated thing indeed. So to postulate a God as the beginning of the universe, as the answer to the riddle of the first cause, is to shoot yourself in the conceptual foot because you are immediately postulating something far far more complicated than that which you are trying to explain.“

—  Richard Dawkins, book The God Delusion

The God Delusion (2006)
Context: If the alternative that's being offered to what physicists now talk about - a big bang, a spontaneous singularity which gave rise to the origin of the universe - if the alternative to that is a divine intelligence, a creator, which would have to have been complicated, statistically improbable, the very kind of thing which scientific theories such as Darwin's exists to explain, then immediately we see that however difficult and apparently inadequate the theory of the physicists is, the theory of the theologians - that the first course was a complicated intelligence - is even more difficult to accept. They're both difficult but the theory of the cosmic intelligence is even worse. What Darwinism does is to raise our consciousness to the power of science to explain the existence of complex things and intelligences, and creative intelligences are above all complex things, they're statistically improbable. Darwinism raises our consciousness to the power of science to explain how such entities - and the human brain is one - can come into existence from simple beginnings. However difficult those simple beginnings may be to accept, they are a whole lot easier to accept than complicated beginnings. Complicated things come into the universe late, as a consequence of slow, gradual, incremental steps. God, if he exists, would have to be a very, very, very complicated thing indeed. So to postulate a God as the beginning of the universe, as the answer to the riddle of the first cause, is to shoot yourself in the conceptual foot because you are immediately postulating something far far more complicated than that which you are trying to explain. Now, physicists cope with this problem in various ways, which may seem somewhat unconvincing. For example, they suggest that our universe is but one bubble in foam of universes, the multiverse, and each bubble in the foam has a different set of laws and constants. And by the anthropic principle we have to be - since we're here talking about it - in the kind of bubble, with the kind of laws and constants, which are capable of giving rise to the evolutionary process and therefore to creatures like us. That is one current physicists' explanation for how we exist in the kind of universe that we do. It doesn't sound so shatteringly convincing as say Darwin's own theory, which is self-evidently very convincing. Nevertheless, however unconvincing that may sound, it is many, many, many orders of magnitude more convincing than any theory that says complex intelligence was there right from the outset. If you have problems seeing how matter could just come into existence - try thinking about how complex intelligent matter, or complex intelligent entities of any kind, could suddenly spring into existence, it's many many orders of magnitude harder to understand.

Lynchburg, Virginia, 23/10/2006 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR_z85O0P2M&t=42m41s

„What I can’t understand is why you can’t see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that life started from nothing“

—  Richard Dawkins

that is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God?”
During his conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, as quoted in The Telegraph, in . In " Richard Dawkins: I can't be sure God does not exist http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9102740/Richard-Dawkins-I-cant-be-sure-God-does-not-exist.html"

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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