Richard Dawkins is dogmatic


Clinton Richard Dawkins (Born March 26, 1941 in Nairobi, Kenya) is a British zoologist, theoretical biologist and author of scientific and popular science literature.

He was published in 1976 with his book The Selfish Gene (The selfish gene), in which he considers evolution at the level of genes. He introduced the term meme for the field of culture as a hypothetical analogue of the gene in biological evolution (see also Memetics). In the following years he wrote several bestsellers, including The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1987), River Out of Eden (1995) and Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Der Gotteswahn (2006) as well as critical articles on religion and creationism.

Dawkins is an avowed atheist, humanist and a well-known member of the Brights movement.


Richard Dawkins was born in Nairobi, where his father, Clinton John Dawkins, had been transferred as a member of the Allied Forces. His family returned to England in 1949. He studied biology with the Dutch ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen at Oxford University. In 1966 he received his PhD in Zoology (Ph.D.). In 1967 he married the author Marian Stamp, from whom he separated in 1984.

From 1967 to 1969 Dawkins was assistant professor of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1970 to 1995 lecturer in zoology at New College, Oxford University. In 1984 he married Eve Barham, with whom he had a daughter (Juliet Emma Dawkins) that same year; the marriage was also divorced. He has been married to actress Lalla Ward since 1992. Dawkins and Ward were introduced to each other by Douglas Adams at a party.[1] He has been an elected member of the Royal Society of Literature and since 2001 also an elected member of the Royal Society.

Since 1995 he is Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. Simonyi has repeatedly expressed himself as a supporter of the scientific work of Dawkins. The billionaire donated £ 1.5 million to Oxford University for the facility.


Biology and biological evolution


Dawkins became famous for his theory of the selfish gene, which he describes in the book of the same name. In this he sees the gene as the fundamental unit of selection, which the body only uses as a "survival machine".

Within evolutionary biology, he advocates the thesis that competitive situations and / or fitness differences play a role on a genetic or at best individual level in evolutionary processes, but group selection does not play a role or only plays a marginal role. In his first book The selfish gene he deals with this topic and then introduces it into The Extended Phenotype (1982) by expanding the narrow definition of the phenotype and increasingly focusing on the individual gene. This attitude was largely accepted in the last quarter of the 20th century. Recently, however, this statement has been relativized by theoretical models and concrete examples. The work of the biologist David Sloan Wilson and the philosopher of science Elliott Sober should be mentioned in particular.


In analogy to gene Dawkins introduced the term in 1976 Meme a. Memes are in cultural development what genes are in biological development. Memes (melodies, thoughts, catchphrases, fashions) spread through mutation and selection just like genes.

The Spiegel referred to Dawkins as most influential biologist of his time.[2]


Dawkins is a member of the British Skeptics Society, a society for the advancement of scientific and skeptical thinking, as well as various other British organizations for the advancement of humanistic and atheistic ideas and a stronger secularization of the British state. He is one of the opinion leaders of the Brights movement. In earlier works he defended his interpretation of the theory of evolution vehemently against concepts that wanted to recognize a purposefulness in the origin of species.

In “The Blind Watchmaker” he refers to the proof of God by the English theologian William Paley, according to which life cannot have come about by chance, in analogy to a clock made according to a watchmaker's precise design plan. In this book Dawkins compares the aspect that natural selection is an unconscious and uncontrolled process with the analogy of God as a blind watchmaker.

In the past few years he has broadened his arguing to include religion in general. In his essay "Viruses of the Mind" he depicts religion as a mental virus using the meme theory. Together with other scientists such as the neurobiologically interested author Sam Harris, he not only turns against belief in a god, but also against the " Believe in Faith ". By this he means the tendency of people who are not religious in and of themselves to attribute a positive effect on morality and ethics to religion.

The Atheist Alliance International (International Association of Atheists) has been awarding the Richard Dawkins Prize since 2003 to atheists who raise public awareness of the nontheist cause. In 2005 Dawkins personally awarded the prize to the illusion artists Penn and Teller. [3]

In 2006 he founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS or RDF)[4], a non-profit foundation that wants to get involved in the fields of humanistic research and education.


Some scientists, who in principle sympathize with Dawkins' attitude towards religious fundamentalism, criticize what they consider to be polemical attacks against it any Religiousness is counterproductive because it gives third parties the impression that natural science is also dogmatic and intolerant.

Criticism of his biological theses has been made by David Wilson and Scott Atran, among others. The latter primarily criticizes the concept of the meme in the context of religion. In his opinion, a lack of knowledge in the areas of brain function and structure calls into question the analogy of the meme with a gene.[5]

In addition, some theologians and philosophers (especially the Oxford theologians Keith Ward and Alister McGrath and the philosopher John N. Gray) accuse him of ignoring serious theology and of abusing his authority as a renowned scientist for his criticism of religion [6], or that he applies the worldview of religious fundamentalists to all believers and thus ignores the wide range of worldviews of religious people.[7]

At the beginning of December 2007 it became known that the public prosecutor in Istanbul had started investigations against the Turkish publisher von Dawkins on suspicion of violating or “insulting religious values” in “Der Gotteswahn”.[8]


Dawkins has received honorary doctorates from the University of Westminster, the University of Durham, the University of Hull, the Open University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is the vice president of British Humanist Association.

In 2005 he was featured in Prospect magazine [9] Voted the third most important living intellectual in the world after Noam Chomsky and Umberto Eco,[10] 2007 by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.[11]

His popular science books have won many literary prizes, including the 1987 Royal Society of Literature Award, the same year the Los Angeles Times Literature Prize. In 1990 he received the Michael Faraday Award the Royal Society and the Nakayama Prize in 1994 and the International Cosmos Prize for Achievement in Human Scienceand 2001 the Kistler Prize.

In 2005 he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the German Alfred Toepfer Foundation. In October 2007, Dawkins was the first to receive the prize, endowed with 10,000 euros and named after Karlheinz Deschner Deschner Prize the Giordano Bruno Foundation.[12]

The award of the Atheist Alliance International, which has been awarded since 2003, is in honor of Dawkins Richard Dawkins Award called.

Works (Selection)


  • 1976: The Selfish Gene - German title: The egoistic geneISBN 3-499-19609-3
  • 1982: The Extended Phenotype The Long Reach of the Gene (new edition 1999) ISBN 0-19-288051-9
  • 1986: The Blind Watchmaker Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. 1986 ISBN 3-423-30558-4, W. W. Norton & Company 1996 ISBN 0-393-31570-3, Penguin Books 1990 ISBN 0-14-014481-1 (Paperback) - German title: The blind watchmakerISBN 3-423-11261-1
  • 1995: River out of Eden A Darwinian View of Life - German title: And a river sprang up in Eden (in German 1996) ISBN 3-570-12006-6
  • 1996: Climbin Mount Improbable. - German title: The peak of the improbable. Miracle of evolution (in German 1999) ISBN 978-3-499-60932-9
  • 1998: Unweaving the rainbow Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder - German title: The disenchanted rainbow (in German 2002) ISBN 3-499-61337-9
  • 2003: A Devil's Chaplain Selected Writings, Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love ISBN 0-753-81750-0
  • 2004: The Ancestor's Tale A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution ISBN 0-618-00583-8
  • 2006: The God Delusion - German title: the God Delusion (in German 2007) ISBN 978-3-550-08688-5


  • Viruses in the head (1993; original title: Viruses of the Mind)
  • The real romance in the stars (1995)


The root of all evil?[13] is a documentary film critical of religion. It shows Dawkins visiting religious sites and events in different countries around the world. The entire film is commented on by Dawkins' voice-over. It comes to meetings and arguments with more or less radical representatives of the world religions. The film was shot as a documentation for the English private broadcaster Channel 4 and can be officially viewed or downloaded as a Google video. Critics accused the filmmakers of visiting particularly radical and unenlightened believers. Dawkins himself said that selected liberal believers were given enough space in the media anyway.

The series was released in 2007 as a sequel The enemies of reason[14], in which Dawkins discusses esoteric and alternative medicine.


Richard Dawkins was a special role model for the author Douglas Adams. Adams described himself several times as a "Dawkinsist". The term "Dawkinist" is sometimes used by Dawkins followers. Both allude to the term “Darwinist”. "Der Spiegel" reports that Dawkins was a nickname Darwin's Rottweiler.[15]


  • "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." (Orig: "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.")
  • “We are all atheists about most of the gods humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. ”(Orig:“ We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. ”) [16]
  • “I am a bright. You are (probably) a Bright. Most of the people I know are brights. The majority of the scientists are brights. There are probably a lot of secret brights in Parliament, but they don't dare to say it publicly. [...] Whether there is a statistical tendency for brights (noun) to be bright (adjective) has to be investigated. I would be very happy to have such an investigation, and I think a result is likely, but that has nothing to do with the definition of the noun. "[17]
  • "Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence versus the side of reason and discussion. Both have the relentless belief that they are right and the other is the evil." [18]
  • "So, yes, I would argue that religion is an extremely effective label for hostility." [19]
  • Literature by and about Richard Dawkins in the catalog of the German National Library
  • Richard Dawkins in the Internet Movie Database
  • Official website
  • Unofficial website
  • Image and sound files by and about Richard Dawkins (English)
  • Clear collection of image and sound files about Richard Dawkins (English)


  • Alister McGrath: The Atheism Mania: An Answer to Richard Dawkins and Atheist Fundamentalism, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86591-289-3


  1. Wired: Revolutionary evolutionist by Michael Schrage (en) from July 2005
  2. KULTURKAMPF: Happier without God DER SPIEGEL (43/2006) of October 23, 2006
  3. Report and interview with Richard Dawkins from Gordy Slack
  4. Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
  5. Opinion on Beyond Belief by Scott Atran on March 12, 2006
  6. K. Ward, God, Chance and Necessity, Oxford 1996, 11f
  7. Review by Fanatical Unbelief from November 2004 (en)
  8. "Richard Dawkins' book supposedly violates religious values," Spiegel Online, December 1, 2007
  9. Official homepage of the British magazine Prospect (en)
  10. Crusade against god by Klaus Taschwer on January 19, 2007
  11. Time Top 100, 2007
  12. Deschner Prize to Richard Dawkins hpd, May 28, 2007
  13. The root of all evil? Associated website of Channel 4
  14. The enemies of reason associated website of Channel 4
  15. “A god of fear” - quoted at the end of the conversation on Spiegel Online, September 10, 2007
  16. Official Homepage of Richard Dawkins (en)
  17. Let There Be Brights by Richard Dawkins
  18. Report and interview with Richard Dawkins from Gordy Slack
  19. Report and interview with Richard Dawkins from Gordy Slack

Categories: Biologist | Theoretical biologist | Evolutionary biologist