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Biography of Richard Dawkins

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Richard Dawkins, in full Clinton Richard Dawkins, (born March 26, 1941, Nairobi, Kenya), British evolutionary biologist, ethologist, and popular-science writer who emphasized the gene as the driving force of evolution and generated significant controversy with his enthusiastic advocacy of atheism.

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Politically, Dawkins has long been on the Left, going back to his teaching days as an assistant professor of zoology at U.C. Berkeley in 1967-69, when he joined in student anti-war demonstrations. He favors extending legal rights to Great Apes, saying that humanity’s failure to do so gives evidence of a “discontinuous, speciesist imperative.” He has compared religious belief to the smallpox virus, regretting only that smallpox was much easier to eradicate. In The Blind Watchmaker, his target was what he regards as the illusion of design in nature. The book includes his often quoted declaration that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” While arguing against what he regards as the massive improbability of God’s existence may appear to be the major conclusion of Dawkins’s writing and speaking, on closer inspection many critics believe he takes divine non-existence as something closer to a premise. In The God Delusion, the argument turns on whether God if He exists would have to be “complex.” Dawkins says He would have to be, and therefore would require Something even more complex than He is to explain His existence, leading to a hopeless infinite regress of complex deities all required to explain each others’ existence. But as the philosopher Alvin Plantinga notes, attributing such complexity to God as Dawkins does (in contrast with traditional theism, which hold God to be supremely simple) makes sense only given a premise of materialism. But materialism itself entails the nonexistence of a nonmaterial being such as God. So the argument is circular.

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As shown above, he also takes a Darwinian view of culture, exemplified in his invention of the "meme," the unit of cultural inheritance; memes are essentially ideas, and they, too, are operated on by natural selection. Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, former Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science at Oxford University, and Fellow of New College. Among his books as author are Outgrowing God, The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River out of Eden (ScienceMasters Series),Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Devil's Chaplain, The Ancestor's Tale, The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth, and The Magic of Reality.

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Biography of Richard Dawkins
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