Tuesday 26 March 2013

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old evolutionary biologist and father of the selfish gene, Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author of the 1976 book, 'The Selfish Gene' is 72 years old today.

What you possibly didn't know about Richard , that he :

* was born in Nairobi, Kenya during The Second World War in 1941, his father, a civil servant in the British Colonial Service, in what is now Malawi, served in the King's African Rifles and returned and brought Richard to England when he was 8 in 1949.

* lived on the inherited 400-acre family estate, 'Over Norton Park' near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, believed to have been bought with money made by his father's descendant,  Henry Dawkins who owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica until he died in 1744.
Dawkins family tree
* had what he called 'a normal Anglican upbringing', and embraced Christianity until his mid-teens, then found the theory of evolution as a better explanation for life's complexity and ceased believing in a God saying later : 'the main residual reason why I was religious was from being so impressed with the complexity of life and feeling that it had to have a designer and I think it was when I realised that Darwinism was a far superior explanation that pulled the rug out from under the argument of design. And that left me with nothing.'

* attended Oundle Church of England School, in the 1950's then studied zoology at Oxford University and from 1967 to 1969, went on to become an 'assistant professor of zoology' at the University of California, where at Berkeley he became heavily involved in anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and activities before returning to lecture at Oxford in 1970.

* became known for his popularisation of the gene-centred view of evolution set out in his books 'The Selfish Gene' in 1976, where he notes that : 'all life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities', and 'The Extended Phenotype' in 1982, in which he advocated the idea that the gene is the principal unit of selection in evolution.
* shares the view generally held by scientists that natural selection is sufficient to explain the apparent functionality and non-random complexity of the biological world and can be said to play the role of 'watchmaker' in nature, albeit as an automatic, non intelligent, 'blind watchmaker'.

* in his 2006 book, 'The God Delusion', contended that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion, a fixed false belief and saw it sell more than two million copies and translation into 31 languages.

*said to critics of his directorship of the family estate that it was "now a very small farm, struggling to make its way and is worth peanuts" and "do you realise that probably only about one in 512 of my genes come from Henry Dawkins?"


No comments:

Post a Comment