Clinton Richard Dawkins (born March 26, 1941), better known as Richard Dawkins, is a British zoologist, born in Nairobi, in Kenya. He is currently Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, and is one of the most prominent biologists alive today.
He is probably best known for his popularisation of the "selfish gene" theory (see "Williams Revolution"), described in his book The Selfish Gene. As an ethologist, with a principal interest in animal behaviour and its relation to natural selection, he popularised the idea that the gene is the principal unit of selection in evolution. This gene point of view also provides a basis for understanding kin selection which was originally suggested by J. B. S. Haldane and expanded by W. D. Hamilton.
Dawkins has been one of the major proponents of sociobiological theory and was the originator of the term meme which spawned the theory of memetics. In the controversy over the interpretation of the theory of evolution that is colloquially called The Darwin Wars, one party is often named for Dawkins and the rival party for Stephen Jay Gould. This reflects the pre-eminence of each as a populariser of the contesting view points, rather than because either is the more substantial or extreme champion of these positions. Dawkins acquiesced in this role from the time of his scathing review (published in January 1985) of Not in Our Genes! by Rose, Kamin and Lewontin.
He is an ardent and outspoken atheist, Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and Vice-President of the British Humanist Association. In his essay "Viruses of the Mind", he interprets religions using the memetics theory.
See also: Richard Dawkins on Wikiquote.
Dawkins comes from an upper-middle class family which can be found in the pages of Burke's Landed Gentry as "Dawkins of Over Norton". His father, John Clinton Dawkins, was a descendant of the Clinton family which held the Earldom of Lincoln. His mother was Jean Mary Vyvyan Dawkins (nee Ladner).
He received a B.A. degree in biology from Balliol College, Oxford in 1962, followed by an M.A. and D.Phil. in 1966.
He married Marian Stamp, August 19, 1967, but they divorced in 1984. In the same year, Dawkins married Eve Barham 1st June, and they had child(ren), but they also divorced. He married former actor Lalla Ward in 1992, after having been introduced to her by Douglas Adams (who was a colleague of hers on the production team of Dr Who). Dawkins and Adams quickly became friends after he had written a fan letter to Adams.
Meanwhile, he was University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor of zoology, between 1967-1969. Oxford University, lecturer in zoology and fellow of New College, 1970-1990, and later a reader in zoology, 1990-1995. In 1995 he became Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science at Oxford. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001.
The Selfish Gene (1976; second edition, 1989)
The Extended Phenotype (1982)
The Blind Watchmaker (1986)
River out of Eden (1995)
Climbing Mount Improbable (1996)
Unweaving the Rainbow (1998)
A Devil's Chaplain (2003)
"Viruses of the Mind" (1993)
The real romance in the stars - A critical view of astrology (1995)