[Wikipedia : Clinton Richard Dawkins (born March 26, 1941) is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science writer who holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.
In his scientific works, Dawkins is best known for his popularisation of the gene-centered view of evolution – a view most clearly set out in his books The Selfish Gene (1976), where he notes that “all life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities”, and The Extended Phenotype (1982), in which he describes natural selection as “the process whereby replicators out-propagate each other”. As an ethologist, interested in animal behaviour and its relation to natural selection, he advocates the idea that the gene is the principal unit of selection in evolution.]
The Root of All Evil? Episode 1: The God Delusion(Google Video)
In the first part of this two-part Channel 4 series, Professor Richard Dawkins challenges what he describes as ’a process of non-thinking called faith’.
He describes his astonishment that, at the start of the 21st century, religious faith is gaining ground in the face of rational, scientific truth. Science, based on skepticism, investigation and evidence, must continuously test its own concepts and claims. Faith, by definition, defies evidence: it is untested and un-shakeable, and is therefore in direct contradiction with science. In addition, though religions preach morality, peace and hope, in fact, says Dawkins, they bring intolerance, violence and destruction. The growth of extreme fundamentalism in so many religions across the world not only endangers humanity but, he argues, is in conflict with the trend over thousands of years of history for humanity to progress – to become more enlightened and more tolerant.
Dawkins makes reference to the watchmaker analogy made famous by William Paley in his book Natural Theology. Paley, arguing more than fifty years before Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, held that the complexity of living organisms was evidence of the existence of a divine creator by drawing a parallel with the way in which the existence of a watch compels belief in an intelligent watchmaker. Dawkins, in contrasting the differences between human design and its potential for planning with the workings of natural selection, therefore dubbed evolutionary processes The Blind Watchmaker.
In developing his argument that natural selection can explain the complex adaptations of organisms, Dawkins’ first concern is to illustrate the difference between the potential for the development of complexity of pure randomness as opposed to that of randomness coupled with cumulative selection. He demonstrates this by the example of the Weasel program. Dawkins then describes his experiences with a more sophisticated computer model of artificial selection implemented in a program also called The Blind Watchmaker.