Richard Dawkins

evolutionary biologist, science communicator

Stats:

Lived:
March 26, 1941 - Present

Birth Place:
Nairobi, Kenya

Famous:

Chief Accomplishment:
Author of the New York Times bestseller The God Delusion along with eleven other popular books on evolution, science, and skepticism.

Other Notable Accomplishments:

Held the position of Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford from 1995 to 2008.

Produced documentary films about religion, science, and culture including The Unbelievers with physicist Lawrence Krauss, The Root of All Evil, and Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life.

Author of The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True which is aimed at pre-teens and teens, and presents myths and scientific explanations side by side along with illustrations by Dave McKean.

Is considered one of the "Four Horsemen of the New Atheism," along with Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.

Founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science in 2006.

Freethinker:

Speak Up, Speak Out. Dawkins has been an outspoken advocate for science and freethought. Dawkins has, throughout his career, made a major effort to combat the scientific, psychological, and moral consequences of the position religion holds in our society.

Use Your Own Brain. Dawkins encourages people to use reason to come to their conclusions rather than relying on faith.

The Scarlet Letter. His foundation, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, supports freethought causes and projects including the "Out Campaign" with the scarlet "Atheist A," encouraging people to be out about their atheism.

Awe, Wonder, and Questions. Wrote The Magic of Reality to explore scientific questions in an engaging way for kids and teens, which shows that science offers the opportunity for wonder when answering big questions about the world.

No Youth Labeling. He's also behind the "Don't Label Children" meme, which focuses on not labeling children with the religious or nonreligious views of their parents.

Interesting Facts:

He praises the good work of Camp Quest in his book The God Delusion. He says "Camp Quest takes the American institution of the summer camp in an entirely admirable direction. Unlike other summer camps that follow a religious or scouting ethos, Camp Quest…is run by secular humanists, and the children are encouraged to think sceptically for themselves while having a very good time with all the usual outdoor activities."

Dawkins coined the term "meme" (an element of culture that can be passed from one individual to another by imitation), which came from his book called The Selfish Gene.

Dawkins met his wife, Lalla Ward, through their mutual friend Douglas Adams, a notable author who wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Ward, an actress, had a recurring role on seasons 17 and 18 of the hit television show Doctor Who.

Dawkins also appeared in an episode of Doctor Who in 2008. The episode was called "The Stolen Earth." He played himself giving scientific advice on what happened when planets collected together in an unusual space phenomenon.