Professor Richard Dawkins FRS
Scientist, author, and former Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford
His published works include The Selfish Gene, Unweaving the Rainbow , Climbing Mount Improbable, The Devil’s Chaplain and The God Delusion.
“I care passionately about the truth because it’s a beautiful thing and enables us to live a better life.”Richard Dawkins is well respected by humanists for his brilliant and accessible writing on science and evolution and for his consistent and courageous defence of truth, science and scientific method against superstition and unreason. He has said, “I care passionately about the truth because it’s a beautiful thing and enables us to live a better life.” (Daily Mail, November 1996). In The God Delusion (Sept 2006, buy it here), he presents a typically hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes. In March 2007 he was named "Reader's Digest Author of the Year" for the The God Delusion. "It is immensely gratifying to me that The God Delusion seems to have struck a chord with so many people across the country who cast their vote in its favour," he said. In May 2007 the USA magazine Time included him in its 100 most influential people of the year, and an August 2007 survey of MPs’ summer reading habits found The God Delusion a must-read for Labour MPs (see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article2204223.ece).
Though he has been criticised by opponents as a dogmatically anti-religious “bleak materialist”, his books belie that description and reveal his awe and wonder at the beauty and intricacies of the natural world:
"Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun," he wrote in Unweaving the Rainbow (1998, buy it here), "to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked – as I am surprisingly often – why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn’t it sad to go to your grave without wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it?"
He has also consistently opposed the existence and expansion of faith schools, arguing that it is an abuse of children’s rights to label them as Muslim, Christian, atheist etc until they have had the opportunity to think about these things and choose for themselves, or to submit them to the anti-scientific ideas of creationists, for example, in an article in the TES (Feb 23 2001) and “Creationism is Bad Science and Bad Theology” in The Times, co-authored with the then Bishop of Oxford. He was one of the 43 scientists and philosophers who in March 2002 signed a letter to Tony Blair and relevant Government departments, deploring the teaching of Creationism in schools.