is best known for his book, The Selfish
Gene in which he described the innate
need of all species to defend themselves
as well as their kin. As a result of his
research and writing, Dawkins became a
well known ethologist and evolutionary
biologist. He also became a Chair for
the Public Understanding of Science at
the University of Oxford.
Dawkins was born on March 26, 1941 to
Clinton John and Jean Mary Vyvyan Dawkins
in Nairobi, Kenya. Both of his parents
were scientists which helped encourage
Dawkins' own interest in ecological and
evolutionary studies. Dawkins grew up
in an upper-middle class household and
eventually moved to England with his parents
when he was eight. Although he quickly
became part of the church, Dawkins always
felt disconnected from the ceremony and
tradition of religion and often doubted
the existence of God.
spent his younger years at the Oundle
School and, upon graduating, studied zoology
at Balliol College at Oxford. Dawkins
graduated with a BA in zoology in 1962
and stayed on to complete his Masters
and Doctorate degrees. He received his
D. Phil. in 1966 and later his D. Sc.
completing his D. Phil., Richard Dawkins
moved to California to become an assistant
professor at the University of California,
Berkley. He remained an assistant professor
until 1970 when he was given a position
as a lecturer. Six years later, Dawkins
published his first and best known book,
The Selfish Gene, in which he described
the basics of human and animal behavior
as a function of survival of not only
the individual, but also of their families
and their species as a whole.
book brought a lot of criticism from skeptics,
especially those who disagreed with Darwin
and the idea of natural selection. Having
grown up in a scientific household, Dawkins
read and studied evolutionary theories
of various award-winning scientists, including
Charles Darwin, and based his book on
a combination of his learning and his
own observations of species.
Dawkins followed The Selfish Gene with
The Extended Phenotype in 1982 in which
he discusses "the process whereby
replicators out-propagate each other"
and focuses on genetics as the most important
unit of selection in evolution. Where
The Selfish Gene talked about the actions
of species in relation to their genetics
and natural selection, The Extended Phenotype
focused more on genes and the genetic
code in relation to evolution.
his lectures and tours with his books,
Richard Dawkins also took part in multiple
discussions and debates over the ideas
of conventional evolution and creationism.
As a self-proclaimed atheist, Dawkins
spoke openly about his opposition to intelligent
design and creationism and the Atheist
Alliance International even named an award
in his honor. As a result of his arguments,
both public and published, Dawkins has
been nicknamed "Darwin's bulldog"
in an effort to explain his passion and
enthusiasm for his scientific beliefs.
His anti-religious beliefs led to the
publication of his third novel, The Blind
Watchmaker in 1986 in which he discussed
the ideas of creationism in regards to
becoming a reader in zoology at the University
of Oxford in 1990, Dawkins began giving
lectures and speaches at a number of universities
and events around the world. His written
and spoken work has also earned him multiple
honors and awards including honorary doctorates
from the University of Durham, the University
of Hull, Open University, Vrije Universiteit
Brussel, and the University of Westminster.
Dawkins also holds honorary doctorates
at the University of St. Andrews and the
Australian National University. He was
elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society
of Literature in 1997 and to the Royal
Society in 2001. Dawkin's list of awards
includes the Los Angeles Times Liteary
Award, the Royal Society of Literature
award, the Michael Faraday Award, the
Medal of the Presidency of the Italian
Republic, and multiple others.
Dawkins has been married three times,
once to Marian Stamp from 1967 to 1984,
once to Eve Barham starting in 1984 and
eventually to Lalla Ward in 1992. He has
one daughter and authored a total of eight
books and countless essays and articles.
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