Richard Dawkins Biography

Richard Dawkins was born in Nairobi, Kenya on 26 March 1941. When he was eight, his father moved back to England after serving in Africa during World War Two and it was in England where Dawkins spent the remainder of his childhood on the farm his father had inherited. He had a younger sister.

Dawkins attended a Church of England school, Oundle, between 1954 and 1959. At Balliol College, Oxford, he studied zoology until 1962 when he graduated. While there, he worked with Nkilaas Tinbergen, a Novel Prize-winning scholar of ethology. Dawkins continued to study under Tinbergen as a research student where he received both his M.A. and Ph.D by 1966. He continued to work as a researcher for Tinbergen for another year, studying models of animal decision-making.

After this, Dawkins moved to Berkeley, California and held a position at the University of California, Berkeley, as an assistant professor of zoology. It was here that he became heavily involved in the anti-war movement during the time of the Vietnam War. Soon afterwards, Dawkins returned to the U.K. as a lecturer at the University of Oxford in 1970. He became a reader of zoology in 1990.

It was after Dawkins became the first Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, in 1995, that his interaction within the public eye became more apparent.  He held the position, which was created by Simonyi and expressly given the Dawkins as the first holder of the position by Simonyi, until 2008. During that time, Dawkins came more and more into the public eye as he publicly criticized the creationist movement and the Intelligent Design movement. He published several books about the subject, including The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker in an effort to expand to the public the understanding of evolution as the rational explanation for how humans came to be in their present form.

In the most recent years, especially after his publication of The God Delusion, Dawkins has been heralded as a leader in the antitheist movement that is gaining momentum. In America, where the debate between the Intelligent Design movement is still highly debated, Dawkins has been a beacon of hope for many young atheists as they come into daily contact with the indoctrination of the Intelligent Design movement that has its roots in the Religious Right.

In 2012, Dawkins spoke at the first Reason Rally held in Washington, D.C. where he spoke out against the negative impacts of religion and the need to continue to educate the ignorant.