Misunderstanding Dawkins

August 18th, 2009

Many people think of Richard Dawkins as a strident, aggressive figure. I think this comes mostly from passages in The God Delusion where he’s deliberately mischievous, in a way that is decidedly uncomfortable to those of a religious persuasion.

I read The God Delusion and then moved on to several of his other books, like The Blind Watchmaker and The Selfish Gene – all brilliant books, by the way, which transformed my understanding of many aspects of science – but the thing that got me started was really YouTube. Hearing and seeing him speak made me realise he was a very smart, very thoughtful guy, who wasn’t just out to poke fun at religion. He doesn’t always give that impression in his writing, especially to those who have only read small excerpts.

Here’s a little four-minute example of the man who has been christened “Darwin’s Rottweiler”: