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Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins Coming to UConn

January 22, 2014 By: Colin Poitras

Richard Dawkins, noted evolutionary biologist and international bestselling author, is coming to UConn April 9 for a discussion regarding his views on science, secularism, and reason.

Widely viewed as one of the world’s most prominent scientists and atheists, Dawkins is the former Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. He has authored several popular science books including The Selfish Gene, The God Delusion, and The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. His most recent, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, released in September 2013, is the first of a two-part memoir.

Dawkins’ appearance at UConn is made possible through the President’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

“An Evening with Richard Dawkins” begins at 7 p.m. on April 9 in the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean Jeremy Teitelbaum will join Dawkins on stage for an hour-long discussion. The discussion will include time for audience questions.

The event is free and open to students, faculty, staff, and the general public. A book signing with Dawkins will take place in the Jorgensen main lobby immediately following the discussion until 8:30 p.m.

Dawkins rose to international prominence with the publication of The Selfish Gene (Oxford University Press) in 1976. In the book, he expressed a gene-centered approach to evolution that some view as a dramatic reformulation of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. It was Dawkins, in The Selfish Gene, who first coined the term meme, as a noun implying an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.

In The God Delusion, published in 2006, Dawkins not only asserts the irrationality of believing in a supreme being, he argues that religion has caused harm around the world by encouraging divisiveness and oppression. Dawkins is considered one of the popular writers of the New Atheism movement.

In 2009, Dawkins laid out an elaborate and passionate scientific argument in support of evolution in The Greatest Show on Earth, another New York Times bestseller. Dawkins believes it is natural selection and DNA, rather than “intelligent design,” that is responsible for all of the remarkable beauty, complexity, and diversity we see in living creatures around the globe today.

Dawkins’ interests are not limited to evolutionary science and religious beliefs: he is also an outspoken critic of pseudoscience and alternative medicine. He has more than 800,000 followers on Twitter, and is a regular commentator in newspapers and on television.

In 2006, Dawkins founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. The foundation’s mission is “to support scientific education, critical thinking, and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance, and suffering.”

A prolific writer, Dawkins has authored 12 books and been featured in 13 documentaries. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Literature in the UK. His literary honors include the Royal Society of Literature award and the Los Angeles Times Literary Prize. His other awards include the Zoological Society of London’s Silver Medal, the Michael Faraday Prize, the Kistler Prize, and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest.