Richard Dawkins Biography
Clinton Richard Dawkins was born in March 1941 in Nairobi, Kenya. When
he was eight his family moved to England where he attended Oundle School, and then
Balliol College, Oxford, where he obtained a second class BA degree in zoology in
1962, followed by MA and DPhil degrees in 1966.
He describes his childhood as "a normal Anglican upbringing", but he started to
doubt the existence of God when he was about nine years old. He later
changed his opinion persuaded by the argument that a designer had been necessary to
create the universe; however in his teens when he better understood evolution,
he came to the conclusion that evolution could account for the complexity of
life and that a designer was unnecessary.
For two years starting in 1967 he was an assistant professor of zoology at the
University of California, Berkeley. In 1970 he was appointed a lecturer at
Oxford University, and in 1990 he was made a reader (a rank between senior
lecturer and professor) in zoology at Oxford. In 1995, he
became Oxford's Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science.
The position was endowed by philanthropist Charles Simonyi (who was the first to
refer to Dawkins as "Darwin's rottweiller") with the express intention that Dawkins be its first holder.
He first came to prominence in 1976 with the publication of The Selfish Gene,
which popularized the gene-centric view of evolution. He is an outspoken
atheist, humanist and skeptic, and a prominent member of the Brights movement.
The term "Brights" was coined by Paul Geisert (an American former biology teacher,
professor, writer and entrepreneur) who started the movement in 2003 as a
positive-sounding umbrella term to describe people who have a naturalistic
worldview (i.e. one without supernatural or mystical beliefs) in order to counter the
more negative terms such as atheist, infidel or non-believer.
Dawkins's books include The Ancestor's Tale,
The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount
Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, A Devil's Chaplain,
The God Delusion, and The Greatest Show on Earth.
In 2006 he founded The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
He has been married three times; first to Marian Stamp (1967-1984); then to Eve Barham with whom he has a daughter, Juliet Emma Dawkin.
Since 1992 he has been
married to actress and artist Lalla Ward, who he met through their mutual friend,
Douglas Adams. They live in Oxford, England.
This biography was last updated on 06/19/2011.
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