Richard Dawkins - A Man with Beautiful Brain - Seeker's Thoughts

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Richard Dawkins - A Man with Beautiful Brain

Javed Akhtar has become the first Indian to receive the Richard Dawkins Award.

The award is presented by the Atheist Alliance of America an NGO the awards are presented to those distinguished individuals that come from the world of scholarship science, education, or environmental and proclaim the value of rationalism, secularism upholding scientific truth. 

It is to be noted that Javed Akhtar raises voice on social media like twitter, literary events and in interviews about the issues with the Citizenship Amendment Act, public policy, reopening of liquor shops after lockdown, communism in the society, etc.

Who is Richard Dawkins?

Clinton Richard Dawkins (born March 26, 1941, in Nairobi, Kenya) is a bestselling atheist populariser of Darwinian evolutionary theory and its counter-religious implications. His scientific field is ethology, the study of animal behavior.

The most readily recognizable figure in the Darwin debate, Dawkins retired in 2008 as Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, a position he held from 1995, by which time he had effectively discontinued his career as a publishing research scientist.

 His curriculum vitae gives no record of original, peer-reviewed scientific publications since 1994. His best-known books include The Selfish Gene (1976), 
The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), and The God Delusion (2006). The last of these, widely influential and controversial, has sold 1.5 million copies in its English-language edition and been translated into 31 other languages.

Dawkins’ feelings about God are well summarized by a passage in The God Delusion in which he decries the Scriptural Divinity as “arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticide, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Dawkins traces his atheistic beliefs to his childhood in England, whereby his middle teenage years he was already convinced that the “argument from design” for God’s existence had been overthrown by Darwinian Theory. 

His subsequent views on religion all follow from that realization and, according to critics, do not, in terms of sophistication, go very substantially beyond it. 

Dawkins is praised by friends and foes alike as a gifted science writer, a fact about him that may help explain his effectiveness as an ambassador for scientific atheism.

While functioning as Darwinism’s chief public spokesman, Dawkins takes what some regard as a paradoxical stance against public debate when there is a possibility that doubts about Darwinian Theory may be aired. 

He personally refuses to debate the truth of Darwinian evolution, though Darwin’s defeat the design hypothesis is the premise of almost all Dawkins’ later activist writing on behalf of atheism. On one occasion, at almost the last moment, he backed out of a 2005 debate on National Public Radio with George Gilder upon being informed that Gilder, a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow, argues for intelligent design.

Politically, Dawkins has long been on the Left, going back to his teaching days as an assistant professor of zoology at U.C. Berkeley in 1967-69, when he joined in student anti-war demonstrations. He favours extending legal rights to Great Apes, saying that humanity’s failure to do so gives evidence of a “discontinuous, speciesist imperative.”

He has compared religious belief to the smallpox virus, regretting only that smallpox was much easier to eradicate.

Richard Dawkins, elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 2001, is a gifted writer, who is known for his popularization of Darwinian ideas as well as for original thinking on evolutionary theory. He has invented telling metaphors that illuminate the Darwinian debate:

His book The Selfish Gene argues that genes-molecules of DNA-are the fundamental units of natural selection, the "replicators." Organisms, including ourselves, are "vehicles," the packaging for "replicators." 

The success or failure of replicators is based on their ability to build successful vehicles. There is a complementarity in the relationship: vehicles propagate their replicators, not themselves; replicators make vehicles.

 In The Extended Phenotype, he goes beyond the body to the family, the social group, the architecture, the environment that animals create, and sees these as part of the phenotype-the embodiment of the genes. 

He also takes a Darwinian view of culture, exemplified in his invention of the "meme," the unit of cultural inheritance; memes are essentially ideas, and they, too, are operated on by natural selection.

Richard Dawkins foundation for reasons and science

In 2006, Dawkins founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS), a non-profit organization. RDFRS financed research on
the psychology of belief and religion, financed scientific education programs and materials, and publicized and supported charitable organizations that are secular in nature. In January 2016, it was announced that the foundation was merging with the Center for Inquiry, with Dawkins becoming a member of the new organization's board of directors.

Richard’s political views

Dawkins is an outspoken atheist and a supporter of various atheist, secular, and humanistic organizations, including Humanists UK and the Bright’s movement. Dawkins suggests that atheists should be proud, not apologetic, stressing that atheism is evidence of a healthy, independent mind.

 He hopes that the more atheists identify themselves, the more the public will become aware of just how many people are nonbelievers, thereby reducing the negative opinion of atheism among the religious majority. Inspired by the gay rights movement, he endorsed the Out Campaign to encourage atheists worldwide to declare their stance publicly. He supported a UK atheist advertising initiative, the Atheist Bus Campaign in 2008, which aimed to raise funds to place atheist advertisements on buses in the London area.

Dawkins has expressed concern about the growth of the human population and about the matter of overpopulation.

 In The Selfish Gene, he briefly mentions population growth, giving the example of Latin America, whose population, at the time the book was written, was doubling every 40 years. He is critical of Roman Catholic attitudes to family planning and population control, stating that leaders who forbid contraception and "express a preference for 'natural' methods of population limitation" will get just such a method in the form of starvation.

As a supporter of the Great Ape Project—a movement to extend certain moral and legal rights to all great apes—Dawkins contributed the article 'Gaps in the Mind' to the Great Ape Project book. In this essay, he criticizes contemporary society's moral attitudes as being based on a "discontinuous, speciesist imperative".

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