Richard Dawkins and the Making of a Scientist

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Evolutionary biologist and famous atheist Richard Dawkins discusses his childhood, his intellectual development, and the story of how he came to write The Selfish Gene, considered by many to be one of the most important books of the 20th century. His first memoir, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist is about his childhood in colonial Africa, the beginning of his career as a skeptic in boarding school by refusing to kneel for prayer in chapel, and his intellectual awakening at Oxford.


Richard Dawkins

Comments [15]

Ed from Larchmont

Mr. Dawkins' problem is not primarily that he doesn't believe in God, but that he hates God.

Oct. 03 2013 08:36 AM
Ed from Larchmont

And perhaps Mr. Dawkins' atheism has allowed him to concentrate on his science, which I hope is honest. But no doubt he has beaten up Protestants in debates, but that's easy. I challenge him to take on the big boys, let him debate a Catholic bishop or cardinal, one whose strength is theology, on the grounds of his atheism. They will make him look silly.

Sep. 30 2013 08:07 AM
Ed from Larchmont

This could be what Mr. Dawkins experienced: his exposure to Christianity as a child was no doubt Anglicanism. Protestantism is, of course, a heresy of Catholicism, and so it has elements of the truth and Baptism and Marriage as real sacraments, but it is also seriously deficient.

In particular, in the Reformation, Protestants formed Christianity as cut off from the philosophical tradition beginning with the Greeks. As a result, they lack a large theology (see Mark Noll on the theological challenge faced by Evangelicals).

As a very bright person, Mr. Dawkins was unimpressed with the Christianity he saw, sensing that science gives a deeper and more thorough and profound view of reality that Protestantism, and in a sense he might be right.

But he needs to consider not Protestantism, but the fullness of Christianity, Catholicism, which embraces the philosophical tradition and has a theology that is true, and which surpasses the reductionist one presented by the scientific ideology.

'My thoughts delve a yard deeper than your thoughts, and I shall blow you to the moon.' Hamlet

Sep. 27 2013 08:11 AM
John A

Starting a war on religion reminds me of the AIDS virus. AIDS is a disease against immunity itself. The religious (need I say better religious, assuming some aren't?) are dedicated to peace, acceptance, selflessness. But the meme I see very frequently on (the youthful) Tumblr and YouTube is "The world will never know peace until religion is Eliminated". It's a war on the mechanism of peace. Very misguided.

Sep. 26 2013 02:10 PM
Marcos Hardy from NewYork, NY

Dawkins is not the one that is impervious to evidence but the notion of the "existence" of God is. And that is the basis of the concept of Faith, as defined in the Bible: the belief (the evidence) of that not seen (proven.) While science requires evidence to establish the existence of a phenomenon, you do not need evidence for the existence of God. You believe or you don't . And that's it. Is Dawkins an "evangelist (fundamentalist) of atheism"? Hardly when compared to the pervasive evangelization of God and Jesus and other "deities" by any conceivable institution and media in the USA. Science illuminates life, religion darkens it.

Sep. 25 2013 11:11 PM
Ed from Larchmont

I don't mind that Mr. Dawkins doesn't believe in God - he holds it as a dogma as impervious to evidence as any dogma, for sure. I do mind that he is evangelical, that he tries to move others to believe as he does, since he is incorrect.

Sep. 25 2013 05:11 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

Professor Dawkins wants to make an ethical distinction between experiments on nonhuman animals and human animals. I see no distinction at all. If it's wrong to deprive human babies of light, then it is certainly wrong to deprive chicks. The movie Leonard was trying to remember by Francois Truffaut is "L'enfant Sauvage"-"The Wild Child".

Sep. 25 2013 02:30 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Don't worry about that slip, Leonard--you could certainly say that orgasms (or at least ejaculation) are necessary for evolution in higher animals!

Sep. 25 2013 01:58 PM
John A

Ed, I hope your onboard about evolution. The papacy has been for years.

Sep. 25 2013 01:43 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Elvis was, of course, a devout Baptist ... read the Bible on the road.

Sep. 25 2013 01:35 PM
Ed from Larchmont

One might say that Original Sin explains bullying better.

Sep. 25 2013 01:35 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Please ask the reptilian Mr. Dawkins (that's how one of his colleagues describes him) if there has ever been a snake that has evolved to develop arms or legs?

Leonard Lopate posed a question for evolution only theorists: one can understand ordinary pain, it keeps us from danger, etc., but why would we have extraordinary pain?

Sep. 25 2013 01:33 PM
tom LI

John - going for the jugular? Are the xtians jealous of the competition? Its usually you (?) guys looking to bleed people of their lives blood...

Ed - really? What's the fear of one man or many challenging the status quo of Religious dominance.

General Q, who will be the first to raise the absurd claim of Xtian persecution...? You all know you want to...

Sep. 25 2013 12:51 PM
John A

Dawkins has done much in the last five years to enhance his reputations as both nag and street fighter. If he wants to shift focus back to science, then maybe so will his followers. "An Appetite for the Jugular" is the label he needs to shake off.

Sep. 25 2013 10:57 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Awakening? More like darkening.

Sep. 25 2013 08:31 AM

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