The meme "British scientists" is used on the net. On their behalf, statistics are published on the number of Chinese who can reach the nose with their tongue, or the results of studies on the effect of Saturn on the visual acuity of Australian cockatoos.
The name of the author of the very term "meme" is Dawkins. Richard is a prominent British evolutionary biologist, philosopher, writer, celebrated popularizer of science and an atheist. His belonging to this type of scientific community is rightly questioned.
Childhood and youth
He was born March 26, 1941 in Nairobi, Kenya, and grew up in Nyasaland, British possession in South Africa. He recalls that at first he was no more interested in zoology and botany than in other sciences. His father, Clinton colonial official John Dawkins, was an amateur biologist. Richard and his younger sister were more interested in astronomy and the general structure of the human environment. The inquisitive boy was struck by the complexity of the universe, and for the time being, explaining it by the presence of the Creator's intention suited him, because the Dawkins family was considered typically Anglican.
Education Dawkins had to get in England, where they moved to1949. On the recommendation of his father, he entered the biology class of elementary school, and the goal was Oxford. It was in it that he really became interested in the science of wildlife. His teacher was the outstanding biologist, Nobel laureate Nikolaas Tinbergen (1907-1988). Under his guidance, graduate student Richard Dawkins became involved in the science of animal behavior - ethology, where he achieved remarkable success. In particular, he was one of the first to use a computer in his work, even having mastered programming skills for this.
Break with religion
Detailed acquaintance with evolutionary theory has become an important milestone in the life of a scientist. In it he found the answer to the question about the causes of the diversity of the surrounding nature, about the origin of the world of animals and man, and its inseparable connection. As Richard Dawkins later wrote, the books of the great Darwin seemed to him more complete and logical than those offered by supporters of divine providence.
Until now, he considers the first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, with author's inscriptions, to be the greatest value. He considers the great reformer in natural science one of his life and scientific idols, and he made the fight against opponents of the theory of evolution the most important goal of his educational work. Richard Dawkins, whose books provoke a fierce reaction from creationists, from his youth became a staunch atheist and a fighter against superstitions in modern society.
The first book that immediately brought the scientistfame among specialists and the general public, was published in 1976 "The Selfish Gene". Richard Dawkins proclaimed in this work the vitality of Darwin's ideas of evolution. He complements and develops them with achievements from the most progressive areas of biology - genetics and ethology. With the title, which is somewhat provocative, the author, among other things, emphasized the role of the gene as the main object of evolution, and not of the individual or the entire population. The radicalness of the new vision was that organisms were presented only as a vehicle for genes, striving to preserve themselves in new generations.
He takes evolutionary theory even further, beyond genetics. This introduces the concept of the behavioral equivalent of a gene called a meme. The book "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins drew the attention of scientists to the problems of cultural evolution in various areas of wildlife. The object of the new science - memetics - he proposed to consider categories that are not related to pure zoology or botany. It can be ideas, technologies, new trends in fashion and culture. The example given in the book de alt with song motifs passed down from generation to generation by certain species of songbirds.
Developing ideas in a new book
Time has proven the importance of Dawkins' first book. The ideas expressed in beautiful prose looked clear and significant, although they caused fierce disputes, sometimes of a political nature. Dawkins was turned into an apologist for selfishness, denying the value of any social organizations. He tried to clarify his positionfor more details, see The Expanded Phenotype (1982), which was more scientific.
The main idea was: the features inherent in a separate species and subject to evolutionary changes do not have clear boundaries that coincide with the outer shell of organisms. They apply to everything related to life. So, for beavers, it can be their dams that affect the area of several hectares, and spacecraft created by man can cross the borders of our Galaxy.
Fight for the freedom of science
Even in the sixties, Dawkins showed public activity, participating in anti-war actions. In the 1980s, he felt his freedom as an evolutionary scientist was threatened and the new generation's access to progressive scientific knowledge was being restricted. Creationists received state support, and the teaching of Darwinian theory met with serious obstacles in the most "enlightened" countries. "Darwin's Rottweiler" - such a nickname was given to Richard Dawkins for his activity. The Blind Watchmaker was the title of the book and its television version, released in 1987. In them, the scientist expressed his attitude towards the supporters of Intelligent Design.
Criticists of evolution said that the complexity of nature is explained only by the activity of the Creator, and the origin of man through the gradual transformation of primitive organisms is just as impossible as the emergence of a complex mechanism without a well-thought-out project. Dawkins, on the other hand, tirelessly argued that only natural selection could lead to the appearancecomplex organisms with unique properties.
Richard Dawkins, whose "Blind Watchmaker" won numerous awards and prizes, has become the recognized leader of militant atheism. The next book, devoted to the interaction between religion and society, became the most popular and caused outright hatred for him on the part of adherents of different faiths and denominations.
On the screen and on the pages of books
Very quickly, Dawkins became a recognizable media character in England, Europe and the USA. His erudition, skill as a storyteller and polemist made him a welcome guest on educational and enlightening TV channels. The series of television lectures for children and teenagers on BBB-4, on the basis of which the book Climbing the Peak of the Incredible (1996) was written, remains relevant today. In them, he talks about the origin of life, about evolutionary theory, about the role of Darwin in the development of modern science, about the failure of the "God hypothesis".
The great importance of his books is undeniable. Biologists from different countries agree that in many areas of science adjacent to natural science, one of the most influential scientists of our time is Richard Dawkins. An Ancestor's Tale (2004), The Greatest Show on Earth (2009), Reality Magic (2011) are just the latest works. In them, the evolution of wildlife appears as a fascinating and majestic process, the admiration of which Dawkins conveys with amazing skill.
I'm a scientist, not a philosopher
Be critical and seekevidence without relying on faith - Richard Dawkins calls for this. The God Delusion (2006) is the book that made this call especially clear. It contained many other arguments against creationists, against the negative manifestations of religious fundamentalism:
- The comforting role of religion, its educational value was recognized even by some atheists, and underestimation of this was blamed on Dawkins. And he argued that it is possible to be a happy, emotionally and morally complete person without submitting to a higher power.
- Evolutionary theory and teachings based on it more fully and more accurately describe this world. They allow you to especially admire its beauty and diversity, which appeared not by a single will, but in the course of a gradual and interesting process.
- You can not subordinate the way of thinking and behavior of a person to dogma, based only on the place of his birth and the environment where he is brought up. The concept of a Muslim child or a Protestant child cannot but be absurd, just like a Marxist child or a Nietzschean child.
- Religious teachings are a source of intransigence and aggression, especially dangerous now. Instead of resisting them, concessions and indulgences are imposed on fundamentalists and fanatics.
Caring for the future of the planet
Books and programs for children are an important part of educational work. hosted by Richard Dawkins. "God as Illusion" is a book and a television film, especially revealing in terms of the scientist's concern about the fate of the future of science and the planet as a whole. The state in the XXI century openly supports the opening of Christian and Muslim schoolsand universities, and everything related to the Darwinian theory of the origin of life is removed from the curriculum.
The absence of the habit of thinking freely, without outside influence, blind faith in the truths invented by someone and once - this is what the scientist sees as a danger to the emerging personality. Independence and freedom, independence in discovering new peaks, the ability to appreciate the appearance of the Earth as a rare success, the desire for a joyful perception of being - this is the main thing that a child should take with him into adulthood.
A minor asteroid planet 8331 in deep space and a genus of freshwater cyprinids found in South India and Sri Lanka are named after him. He is the recipient of hundreds of prestigious prizes and awards. Influential publications - Prospect, Time, The Daily Telegraph put his name on the lists of the most prominent thinkers of our time.
The man whose e-mail is filled with letters with obscene insults and threats of terrible punishments in the present and afterlife is also Richard Dawkins. "Religion destroys everything", "Enemies of the mind" - those who believe in a higher mind are not ready to forgive him even the titles of publications.
He writes books, makes films, acts in films and cartoons, participates in shows and rock concerts. He lives up to the line on the posters that were plastered on London buses as part of a Dawkins campaign: “In all likelihood, there is no God. Enoughworry, enjoy life.”