The 65 best quotes by Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins is a controversial writer, scientist, ethologist, biologist and British popularizer known for his high level of skepticism and his deep criticism of religion, especially towards the creationist current.
This deeply rationalist author is one of the most renowned advocates of evolutionary theory and has been considered one of the most influential intellectuals of recent times. He is known for his studies on evolution and genetics, stating that the gene is the main unit of evolutionary selection, as well as his critical view of pseudoscience and religious beliefs.
Throughout this article you can find a series of 65 phrases by Richard Dawkins that can allow us to see your thinking.
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Sixty-five famous quotes from Richard Dawkins
Below you will find a selection of phrases by this author that allow you to visualize your position on various topics: biology, life, evolution, religion, etc.
1. Natural selection will not eliminate the ignorance of future generations
For Dawkins, natural selection is one of the main forces that guide evolution, but as long as the human being does not make an effort to overcome ignorance, it will not be overcome.
2. Man is a machine to survive, an automaton programmed blindly in order to preserve the selfish molecules known by the name of genes
In this sentence the author establishes that the human being is subordinated to the function of transmitting the genes, being practically at the service of these.
3. Could it happen that one day distant intelligent computers speculate about their own lost origins? Will any of them fall into the heretical truth that they come from a previous life form, rooted in the organic chemistry of carbon, rather than the electronic principles based on the silicon of their own bodies?
Dawkins establishes an analogy between what could happen in a hypothetical future with synthetic beings created by us and our ability to understand the evolutionary process of our own species.
4. Is not it sad to go to the grave without wondering why you were born? Who, at such a thought, would not have jumped out of bed, eager to begin again to discover the world and rejoice to be part of it?
This expresses the belief in the need to explore our origins based on science .
5. Faith is the great sneak, the great excuse to avoid the need to think and evaluate differences. Faith is to believe despite (or maybe because of) the lack of evidence
Dawkins believes that religious beliefs are based on an attempt to explain reality without the need to explore viable explanations.
6. The essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale
In this sentence the author indicates the factor of chance in the generation of life and the immense difficulty for it to have arisen.
7. The universe is governed by the law of the survival of the stable. The first form of natural selection was the selection of stable forms and rejection of the unstable
For the author, the stable is that which remains and expands, while the unstable tends to disappear.
8. Delayed reciprocal altruism (I do something for you and you do something for me later) can evolve into those species capable of recognizing and remembering each member as an individual
Dawkins believes that altruism occurs in those species with cognitive abilities that allow recognition and remembrance of what has been done, since otherwise the other could not remember who has done something for someone.
9. Almost all cultures have developed their myth of self-creation, and the history of Genesis is simply that which was adopted by a particular tribe of Middle Eastern pastors.
The author establishes that the myth of the Judeo-Christian creation is one of the many existing myths of the same type, being neither the only nor the most correct.
10. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no proof that this is so, but neither can you prove that there is none, so ... Should we be agnostic about the fairies?
Despite his criticism of religion, Dawkins does not consider himself an atheist but an agnostic. He considers that although he does not believe it does not imply that he could be wrong.
11. We will try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are all born selfish
For the author, being people are predominantly selfish from birth. Values such as generosity should be inculcated throughout education if we want altruistic and prosocial behaviors to expand.
12. Personally, I prefer to look to the future where a computer program wins the world chess title. Humanity needs a lesson in humility
The human being has been erected throughout history as a proud creature that has considered itself the cusp of the evolutionary chain. Having something more humility would allow us observe reality with greater perspective and in a more objective way .
13. We are all atheists with respect to the majority of gods in which humanity has ever believed. Some of us simply go a god beyond
In this sentence the author indicates that throughout history different beliefs have been superimposed and replaced each other. At present we do not believe in the same gods for example as the Romans or the Celts. The same could be thought of a future with respect to current beliefs.
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14. One of the favorite questions of the creationist is: what is the utility of half an eye ?. This is really a light question, easy to answer. Half eye is simply one one certainly better than 49 percent of an eye
In this phrase Dawkins criticism of creationism and its conceptions at the same time it indicates that any attempt to improve in the attempt to explain the world is an advantage over previous attempts.
15. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties that we should expect if there were, in the beginning of things, no designer, no purpose, no evil or goodness, nothing, only blind and implacable indifference
The author considers that there is neither a creator nor a directed creation, but that the properties of the universe suggest simple chance.
16. In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic reproduction some will suffer damage and others will not, and it is impossible to find the meaning or justice
The author indicates in this sentence that there is no evolution of life and the universe itself is not aimed at an end or obtaining a specific organism but is random, and as such ascribe moral adjectives or a sense is not possible. .
17. Science is the poetry of reality
Dawkins believes that through science it is possible to glimpse and know reality.
18. I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with the non-understanding of the world
In this sentence the author tells us that he considers that religion prevents knowing and understanding the world, being in his opinion incompatible with science.
19. Blind faith can justify anything. If a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual to worship the same god, blind faith can decree that he must die either on a cross, impaled, pierced by the sword of a crusader, with a shot in a street in Beirut or dynamited in a bar in Belfast.
This phrase is a critique of religious fanaticism which can cause serious conflicts between people or even between peoples and ways of understanding the same reality.
- Related article: "Types of religion (and their differences of beliefs and ideas)"
20. Genes lacks foresight. They do not plan in advance. Genes simply exist, some with better chances of survival than others, and that's all
In this sentence the author tells us again that there is no prior planning that leads to a specific situation. Things simply happen and develop just like genes do.
21. It has become almost a cliché comment, that no one today boasts of being ignorant in literature, but it is socially acceptable to brag about ignoring science and proudly claiming that one is incompetent in mathematics
Dawkins criticizes the social tendency to ignore the scientific and that this is well seen by the population.
22. Evolution has been observed. It's just that it has not been observed while it was happening
Evolution is a certainty that can be observed, although it is a process prolonged over time that is not perceptible while it is occurring but from its results.
23. There is no alternative medicine. There is only medicine that works and medicine that does not work
Richard Dawkins is critical of homeopathy and alternative medicine unless it proves to be effective. Consider these disciplines as harmful because they give false hope and can cause reliable treatment to be ignored.
24. Reason built the modern world. It is a precious thing, but also fragile, which can be corrupted by seemingly harmless irrationality
Dawkins is a deeply rationalist and considers that reason, a fundamental element for the development and understanding of the world, can be influenced by superstition with great ease.
25. The theory of evolution, through cumulative natural selection is the only theory that we know that in principle is capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity
The author reflects the importance of the theory of evolution as an explanation of the existence of current organisms.
26. Evolution should be one of the first things to be learned in school ... and what do they give to children instead? Sacred hearts and incense. Shallow and empty religion
The author criticizes the American educational system and the popularity of creationism in the teaching of many schools, in addition to emphasizing the lack of training in aspects such as evolution.
27. In childhood our credulity helps us a lot. It helps us to fill our heads, with extraordinary rapidity, with the wisdom of our parents and ancestors. But if we do not grow and overcome that stage in the fullness of time, our nature ... makes us an easy target for astrologers, mediums, gurus, evangelists and charlatans. We need to replace the automatic gullibility of childhood with the constructive skepticism of adult science
Throughout the growth process we gradually acquire more cognitive capacity and critical thinking. Otherwise, we will easily accept any explanation offered to us.
28. Today, the theory of evolution is as open to doubt as the theory that the Earth revolves around the sun
The author indicates that the theory of evolution is sufficiently validated as to consider it true despite the fact that other tendencies intend to detract from it.
- Related article: "The theory of biological evolution"
29. Many of us viewed religion as harmful nonsense. Beliefs may lack all kinds of evidence of support but, we thought, if people need a support where they can find comfort, where is the danger? September 11 changed all that
Dawkins believes that religion can be dangerous, and can be used in an extremist way to justify acts of violence.
30. We need to favor verifiable evidence over personal observations. Or we will be vulnerable to being darkened by the truth.
For this author, the scientific is first of all. It is necessary to observe reality in an objective and falsifiable manner without our opinions biasing our perception.
31. Anyway, let's be open minded, but not enough for our brain to slip away
We have to be imaginative and accept the possibility that there are more interpretations of reality than our own, but that is not why anyone will be equally founded.
32. The history of science has been a long series of violent mental storms, successive generations confronted with increasing levels of rarity in the universe
Science has had a convulsive history in which a great amount of theories and research have been faced that have evolved in different directions and with different results, sometimes contradictory with those of other tendencies and theories.
33. You can go back as much as you want. I propose going 185 million generations ago; you will realize that your ancestor of 185 million generations was a fish
The author emphasizes the theory of evolution
34. In real life the selective criterion is always short-term: simple survival or, more generally, success in reproduction
In this phrase Dawkins makes mention of what causes evolution, what allows natural selection to act : the ability to adapt, survive and reproduce our genes.
35. Most of the characteristics that are unusual or extraordinary in man can be summed up in one word: culture
Culture is one of the elements that are distinctive to us. For both the good and the bad, it has allowed the creation of different ways of seeing the world and participating in it.
36. Cultural transmission is analogous to genetic transmission in the story, despite being basically conservative, it can give rise to a form of evolution
The author indicates that culture is a form of transmission similar to genetics, since it generates new perspectives and ways of being and acting.
37. Since the gametes the male is more selfish because it invests less than the female in making them. The female is exploited from the beginning
In this phrase of "The selfish gene" the author tells us about the presence of greater egoism in the male than in the female.
38. If there is only one creator who made the tiger and the lamb, the cheetah and the gazelle. What are you playing? Is he a sadist who enjoys being a spectator of bloody sports?
In this sentence, Dawkins criticizes the belief in the existence of a God who directs life and directs it towards a purpose, pointing out the existence of controversial aspects such as the existence of cruelty.
39. Complex and statistically improbable things are by nature more difficult to explain than simple and statistically probable things
The author indicates in this sentence that what is statistically improbable will always be more difficult to explain than the simplest aspects of reality. An example of this is found in trying to explain life or existence.
40. We no longer have to resort to superstition when faced with deep problems: Is there a meaning to life? What are we searching for? What is man?
In antiquity we resorted to superstition and mystical beliefs as an explanation for the most complex and profound questions.The author proposes that nowadays this is no longer necessary, since science can offer new explanations based on evidence.
41. The problem is that God, in this sophisticated physical sense, has no resemblance to the God of the Bible or any other religion. If a physicist says that God is just another name for the Planck constant or that God is a superstring, we should take it as a quaint metaphorical way of saying that the superstrings or the value of the Planck constant are a profound mystery. Obviously he has not the slightest connection with a being capable of forgiving sins, a being who perhaps hears prayers, who cares whether the sabbath begins at five or six in the evening, if you wear a veil or not, or if you he sees a little of the arm, and there is no connection either with any being able to impose the death penalty on his own son to atone for all the sins of the world that were committed before and after he was born
The author indicates that the idea of God is a concept linked to mystery , being against the idea of a personal being that judges everything that exists.
42. The organisms have existed on Earth, never knowing why, for more than three billion years, before the truth, at last, was understood by one of them. By a man named Charles Darwin
The author indicates the importance of the theory of evolution as an element that allows us to explain how current organisms have been generated and developed, as well as the fact that evolution has continued to happen even though no one had observed it.
43. As a scientist I am hostile to the fundamentalist religion because it actively perverts the scientific effort. It teaches us not to change our minds and not to want to know stimulating things that are available for knowledge. Subvert science and atrophy knowledge
Dawkins declares himself contrary to fundamentalist religious doctrines, considering them closed and inflexible and not allowing the development of knowledge.
44. God exists, even if only in the form of a meme with a high potential for survival, or infectious power, in the environment provided by human culture
The concept of meme is for this author analogous to the one of gene, indicating the theoretical unity of cultural information as well as the gene is of the biological one. The idea of god is closely linked to culture, so that even if it is as such, its existence is certain.
45. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be deadly dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people a firm confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them the false courage to kill themselves, which automatically eliminates the normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it inculcates enmity to other people labeled only by a difference in inherited traditions. And dangerous because we have all acquired a strange respect that protects with exclusivity the religion of normal criticism
The author establishes that religion can be dangerous in the hands of extremists, in this sentence that criticizes the absence of criticism towards religion and the fact that it allows the formation of endogroups and outgroups and that took place shortly after September 11, 2001.
46. The God of the Old Testament is, without a doubt, the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it, petty, unjust, a relentless controller, a vengeful ethnic cleaner thirsty for blood, a misogynist, homophobe, racist, infanticide, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniac, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully
Dawkins criticizes the conception, portrait and original image of God that makes the Old Testament, in which he is perceived as a cruel and vengeful figure to those who did not follow his precepts.
47. Just as genes are propagated in a gene pool by jumping from one body to another through sperm or eggs, so memes are spread in the meme pool by jumping from one brain to another through a process that, considered in its broadest sense, it can be called imitation
In this sentence we propose a Comparison between genetics and culture , the second of which is transmitted by imitating the ideas of others.
48. If a scientist hears or reads a good idea, he transmits it to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and papers. If the idea becomes popular, it can be said that it has spread spreading from brain to brain.
In this sentence the author indicates how ideas are transmitted and replicated, reaching more and more people.
49. When a woman is described in the course of a conversation it is very likely that her sexual attractiveness or the lack of it is underlined in a special way. This is true whether the person with the word is a man or a woman. When the man is described, the most likely adjectives used have nothing to do with sex
The culture and transmission of stereotypes causes the existence of differences in conceptions between men and women, with females being much more sexualized.
fifty.Consciousness is the culmination of an evolutionary trend towards the emancipation of the survival machine, the daily administration of your life and the ability to predict the future and act accordingly
Dawkins attaches great importance to the capacity of self-consciousness as an element that helps us to be free and not to only rely on surviving and reproducing ourselves but on establishing future plans and directing ourselves towards different objectives.
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51. Creationists are denying scientific evidence to support a myth of the Bronze Age
The author criticizes creationism and its denial of the theory of evolution.
52. The argument in this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes
The author talks about one of his works, in which he proposes that organisms are only a mechanism through which genes survive and try to replicate themselves.
53. During the first half of geological history our ancestors were bacteria. Most creatures today are still bacteria and each of our trillions of cells are a colony of bacteria
The author indicates the importance of taking into account that we are made up of millions of living cells, and that they are the simplest and oldest elements that have been gradually structured to evolve towards other forms of life.
54. If we look at the Milky Way with the eyes of Carl Sagan, we feel the feeling of something greater than us. And so it is. But it is not supernatural
Dawkins indicates the absence of supernaturality in the universe . Everything that exists can be explained rationally.
55. I have had absolutely wonderful conversations with Anglican bishops, and I suspect that in a moment of frankness they might say that they do not believe in the immaculate conception. But for each of them there are four that would tell a child that is going to rot in hell for doubting
The author indicates that many people and religious authorities have an open and flexible mentality, although reigns in religious doctrines tends to prevail strict dogmatism and condemnation to those who doubt or do not share the dogma.
56. What you can not understand is why you can not see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that life came from nothing. That is such an amazing, elegant and wonderful thing ... why want to saturate it with something as complicated as a God?
The author expresses his consideration that life arises from chance, that we are the result of chance, it has great beauty and simplicity, while the incorporation of a concept like that of God supposes an element of considerable complexity.
57. I can not be sure that God does not exist ... on a scale of seven, in which one means that I know he exists and seven that I know does not exist I would say that I am a six. That does not mean that I'm absolutely sure, that I know absolutely, because I'm not.
Despite not believing in the idea of a God, Dawkins indicates that he can be wrong and that he does not have an absolute certainty that he does not exist despite being practically convinced of it.
58. Males are high-stakes gamblers who face high risk, and females are safe investors
The author shows the tendency of men to seek great benefits assuming great risks for this, while women tend to prefer a smaller profit but with a higher level of security.
59. The meme for blind faith ensures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious record of discouraging rational investigation
For the author, blind faith is propagated by preventing the advancement and dissemination of science and rational and replicable explanation.
60. The fact that life arose from almost nothing, barely 10,000 million years after the universe arose from literally nothing, is such an amazing fact that I would be mad if I tried to find words that would do it justice
In this sentence the author indicates the great astonishment that supposes that something like life could have appeared or even the universe itself.
61. At some point, a particularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident. We will call it the replicator. It did not have to be, necessarily, the largest or the most complex of all the molecules, but it had the extraordinary property of being able to create copies of itself. This may seem an accident with very little chance that it will happen. Indeed: it was extremely improbable.
This phrase refers to the spontaneous and random emergence of the ability of molecules to replicate that would end up configuring large structures, and ultimately allowed evolution towards ever more complex life forms.
62. In our human calculations of what is probable and what is not, we are not accustomed to calculate in hundreds of millions of years. If one were to fill in betting tickets every week for 100 million years, it is very likely that he won considerable sums several times.
Probability and statistics tend to be biased by our conception of time and our life expectancy. What may seem impossible is likely to happen at some point in history.
63Religion is about to convert unproven beliefs into unchangeable truths through the power of institutions and the passage of time
The beliefs and traditions transmitted over time can be considered totally true despite the absence of evidence to confirm their enjoyment of institutional and social acceptance.
64. No one suggests that children, deliberately and consciously, cheat their parents because of the selfish genes they possess. And I must repeat that when I say something similar to: "A creature should not miss any opportunity to cheat, lie, deceive, exploit ...", I use the word "should" in a special way. I am not advocating this kind of behavior as moral or desirable. I am simply saying that natural selection will tend to favor creatures that act in this way and that, therefore, when we observe wild populations we can expect to see deception and selfishness within families. The phrase "the creature should cheat" means that the genes that tend to make creatures cheat have an advantage in the gene pool.
These phrases indicate that regardless of whether the deception may be a morally reprehensible behavior, at the biological level it may be adaptive.
65. The next time someone tells you something that seems important, think to yourself: "Is this one of those things that people tend to believe based on evidence? Or is it one of those things that people believe by tradition, authority or revelation? And the next time someone tells you that one thing is true, try asking him what evidence is there of it? And if they can not give you a good answer, I hope you think about it before you believe a single word of what they tell you.
Dawkins suggests to scientifically consider any claim and rely on the existence of evidence before believing it credible.