Famous evolutionary biologist. Controversial critic of religion.
Oxford professor Richard Dawkins has helped steer evolutionary science into the 21st century. In recent years, his devastating critique of religion has made him a leading figure in the New Atheism.
A controversial, tough-minded and witty defender of science, Dawkins is widely recognized as the leader of the new Darwinists. He is Oxford Universitys first holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science.
Through his numerous books and lectures, Dawkins tells us that organisms exist so that genes can propagate and that human beings cannot rationally exclude themselves from this Darwinian theory. Like all organisms, the ultimate function of human life is simply to pass DNA on to future generations. Dawkins invites us to explore the power, beauty and mystery behind a Darwinian understanding of life.
His revolutionary views have both inspired and challenged his audiences. He has made many high profile public appearances, including a debate with the Archbishop of York which received extensive coverage in the British Press on the relevance of religion in a scientific age.
Dawkins landmark books include: The Selfish Gene, an international best seller translated into 20 languages; The Blind Watchmaker, winner of the LA Times Literary Prize and the Royal Society Literature Award; and Climbing Mount Improbable, which explores how DNA has evolved through time to create the abundance and diversity of all living things. Other books by Dawkins include River Out of Eden and The Extended Phenotype.
One of his latest book is the best selling Unweaving the Rainbow; an impassioned and provocative defense of scientific exploration against the charge that it undermines the poetic imagination. Here Dawkins argues that the truth revealed through the clarity of science greatly enhances our appreciation of its beauty. He has written numerous book reviews and articles for academic journals, newspapers and magazines. In the words of The New York Times Book Review, Dawkins "understands the issues so clearly he forces his reader to understand them too."
In recent years, Dawkins has become outspoken in his atheism, coining the word "bright" (as an alternate to atheist), and encouraging fellow non-believers to stand up and be identified. His controversial, confrontational 2002 TED talk was a seminal moment for the New Atheism, as was the publication of his 2006 book, The God Delusion, a bestselling critique of religion that championed atheism and promoted scientific principles over creationism and intelligent design. "Dawkins ... is a master of scientific exposition and synthesis. When it comes to his own specialty, evolutionary biology, there is none better." Jim Holt, The New York Times