Richard Dawkins Misrepresents Science?

Richard Dawkins

Clinton Richard Dawkins is an English evolutionary biologist and author. Dawkins first drew public attention with his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene”, which popularized the gene-centered view of evolution and introduced the term “meme” (an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture, something like cultural analogues to genes). With his book “The Extended Phenotype”, published in 1982, he introduced into evolutionary biology the influential concept that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not necessarily limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment.

In 2006, he founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. His most popular book is certainly “The God Delusion” from 2006 in which he stated that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion. Dawkins is an outspoken atheist and a supporter of various atheist, secular and humanistic organizations. He is a sponsor of the British Humanist Association.

In a recent edition of Public Understandings of Science several of the subjects directly stated that Richard Dawkins has been giving a bad name to others in his profession. Although not directly asked about Dawkins by name, about 48 scientists apparently directly referred to Dawkins in their discussion about the public perception of science, and 80 percent of those accused the author of “The God Delusion” of misrepresenting science and scientists in his books and public speeches. Dawkins suggests that atheists should be proud, not apologetic; stressing that atheism is evidence of a healthy, independent mind. On the other side, he regards religion as a “force for evil”, pointing to Islamic extremism in the Middle East.

Elaine Howard Ecklund, the study’s principal investigator and the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice, said that some scientists, independent of their religious beliefs, do not view Dawkins as a good representative because they believe he conveys “the wrong impression about the borders of scientific inquiry.” Ecklund said that no one questioned Dawkins’ integrity as a scientist. Rather, they were critical of his representation of science to the public.

Most of those who disapproved of Dawkins’ views highlighted his criticism of religion as being too strong, while others were even tougher and said that his work was a “crusade, basically”. Scientists that praised Dawkins said that he and his work had very important place in society because of his criticism of creationism and intelligent design and Paul Fidalgo, Centre for Inquiry spokesperson, also remarked that his work has educated and inspired many millions of people around the world.

Photo Credits: Raw Story

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