Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL (born 26 March 1941) is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008.Dawkins came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.
Some people think the question of God’s existence is equivalent to ‘sky-blue-pink’ (PAP), and they wrongly deduce that his existence and non-existence are equiprobable alternatives. I think we should be TAP agnostic about God, and I certainly don’t think the odds are 50/50.
I made the distinction between two kinds of agnosticism. Permanent Agnosticism in Principle (PAP) is exemplified by that philosophical chestnut, "Do you see red the way I see red, or might your red be my green or some completely different hue (‘sky-blue-pink’) that I cannot imagine?" Temporary agnosticism in practice (TAP) refers to things that we cannot (or cannot yet) know in practice but nevertheless have a true scientific reality in a way that the 'sky-blue-pink' conundrum does not.
I do feel very strongly about the way children are brought up. I'm not entirely familiar with the way things are in the United States, and what I say may have more relevance to the United Kingdom, where there is state-obliged, legally-enforced religious instruction for all children. That's unconstitutional in the United States, but I presume that children are nevertheless given religious instruction in whatever particular religion their parents deem suitable.
Anyone can study the same evidence that I have and presumably come to the same conclusion. But if you have a belief that is based solely on faith, I can't examine your reasons. You can retreat behind the private wall of faith where I can't reach you.
Professor Dawkins’s great intellectual conviction is that evolution is progressive, and tends to lead to more and more complexity. Species, in his view, often arrive at similar solutions to evolutionary puzzles — the need for ears, eyes, arms or an octopus’s tentacle. And, often although not invariably, bigger brains.
Genes, he says, try to maximize their chance of survival. The successful ones crawl down through the generations. The losers, and their hosts, die off. A gene for helping the group could not persist if it endangered the survival of the individual.
In The Selfish Gene (1976), he shows how natural selection acts on individual genes rather than at the individual or species level, and also describes how apparently altruistic behaviour in animals is designed to increase the probability of survival of genes. The ways in which small genetic changes or mutations form the basis for evolution are set out in The Blind Watchmaker (1986). The Extended Phenotype (1982), a more advanced book, argues that genes can have effects outside the bodies that contain them
Since the mid-1970s, he has been one of Darwin's most impassioned supporters, and he has achieved the status of celebrity scientist. A best-selling author, he has published six books--The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, and Unweaving the Rainbow--in each of which he explains in laymen's terms how Darwin's theory of natural selection accounts for the intricacy of everything from spiders' webs to human vision.
Dawkins spent his early childhood in Kenya, where his father was stationed during World War II. The family returned to England in 1949. In 1959 Dawkins entered Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he received a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1962. He remained at Oxford, earning his master’s and doctorate degrees in zoology in 1966 under famed ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen
Richard Dawkins was born on March 26, 1941, in Nairobi, Kenya, to Clinton and Jean (Vyvyan) Dawkins. Discussing with Kam Patel the genesis of his interest in biological evolution, he said, "My father read botany at Oxford and perhaps this has influenced me. My mother has a great love of animals and is passionately concerned about animal welfare--I have certainly been influenced by her in that direction."