Birthday: March 26, 1941
Age: 79 Years, 79 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Clinton Richard Dawkins
Born in: Nairobi
Famous as: Evolutionary Biologist
Quotes By Richard Dawkins
Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Eve Barham, Lalla Ward, Marian Stamp
father: Clinton John Dawkins
mother: Jean Mary Vyvyan Ladner
children: Juliet Emma Dawkins
City: Nairobi, Kenya
Founder/Co-Founder: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS)
education: Balliol College, Oxford, Oundle School
awards: 1987 - Royal Society of Literature Award
1990 - Finlay Innovation Award
1990 - Michael Faraday Award
1996 - American Humanist Association's Humanist of the Year Award
2007 - Galaxy British Book Awards's Author of the Year Award
- Deschner Award
Richard Dawkins is an English ethologist and biologist who has made significant contributions to the field of evolutionary biology. He emphasized on the role of the gene in evolution and developed the new discipline of genetic ethology. His interest in ethology—the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour—stemmed from his childhood experiences as he had grown up in Kenya, observing the wildlife around him. Animal behaviour fascinated him greatly and it developed into a life-long interest which shaped his future career. He was brought up in a religious atmosphere though he later renounced religion and became an atheist when he realized that the theory of evolution provided better answers to life’s complexities as compared to religion. After studying zoology at Oxford he became a professor and also edited a number of journals. An ardent Darwinist, he is best known for his gene-centred reformulation of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. He is a prominent critic of religion and believes that religion is both a source of conflict and a justification for belief without evidence. He has authored several books and has also produced numerous television documentaries. Dawkins founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS), a non-profit organization to finance scientific educational programs and research on the psychology of belief and religion.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 26 March 1941 in Nairobi, Kenya as the son of Jean Mary Vyvyan and Clinton John Dawkins. His father was an agricultural civil servant in the British Colonial Service in Kenya and thus he spent his early life in the country’s wilderness, observing the different types of animals and their behavior. He has one younger sister.
The family went to England in 1949 when Dawkins was eight. He was raised as a Christian though he stopped believing in religion during his teenage years. An intelligent and curious boy, he realized that the theory of evolution offered much better answers to life’s puzzles than did religion.
He went to Oundle School in Northamptonshire from 1954 to 1959. After that he went to Balliol College, Oxford where he studied zoology and graduated in 1962. While there he studied under the eminent ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen as a research student and received his D.Phil degree by 1966.
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He was appointed as an assistant professor of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1967 and held this position till 1969. While there he became heavily involved in the anti-war demonstrations and activities.
He became a lecturer at the University of Oxford in 1970. A few years later he published his book, ‘The Selfish Gene’ (1976), a book on evolution which builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams’ first book ‘Adaptation and Natural Selection’.
In the book ‘The Selfish Gene’ he argued that natural selection takes place at the genetic level rather than the species or individual level as was generally assumed. He stated that genes use the bodies of living organisms to further their own survival.
In 1982 he released his book ‘The Extended Phenotype’ in which he describes the biological concept of the same name. He explained that phenotypes should not be limited to biological processes but also extended to include all effects that a gene has on its environment.
In 1990 he assumed the post of a reader in zoology at the University of Oxford. He was appointed Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford in 1995—a position that had been endowed by Charles Simonyi with the specific request that Richard Dawkins be its first holder. |
He also regularly comments in newspapers and weblogs on contemporary political questions and a collection of his selected essays and other writings on varied subjects including pseudoscience, genetic determinism, memetics, terrorism, religion and creationism was published as ‘A Devil's Chaplain’ in 2003.
He founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS or RDF) in 2006. This is a non-profit science education organization which plans to finance research on religion and belief, finance scientific education programs and materials, and support charitable organizations that are secular in nature.
Awards & Achievements
He won a Royal Society of Literature award and a Los Angeles Times Literary Prize for his book ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ in 1987.
In 1989, he was honored with the Zoological Society of London's Silver Medal and the next year he received the Finlay Innovation Award and the Michael Faraday Award.
The Hamburg-based Alfred Toepfer Foundation awarded him with Shakespeare Prize in recognition of his "concise and accessible presentation of scientific knowledge" in 2005.
In 2006, he won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science and in 2007, the Galaxy British Book Awards’ Author of the Year Award.
In 2010, Dawkins was named to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Honorary Board of distinguished achievers.
Personal Life & Legacy
His first marriage was to fellow ethologist Marian Stamp in 1967. The couple divorced in 1984.
Shortly after his divorce he married Eve Barham and had a daughter with her. This marriage too ended in divorce.
He tied the knot for the third time with Lalla Ward in 1992. Lalla is an actress who he had met through a common friend.