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RICHARD DAWKINS QUOTES

We are survival machines -- robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The Selfish Gene

Anybody who objects to cloning on principle has to answer to all the identical twins in the world who might be insulted by the thought that there is something offensive about their very existence. Clones are simply identical twins.

RICHARD DAWKINS, BBC interview, Jan. 31, 1999

There is a popular cliché ... which says that you cannot get out of computers any more than you put in. Other versions are that computers only do exactly what you tell them to, and that therefore computers are never creative. The cliché is true only in the crashingly trivial sense, the same sense in which Shakespeare never wrote anything except what his first schoolteacher taught him to write--words.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The Blind Watchmaker

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

Whether we ever get to know about them or not, there are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. Their technical achievements would seem as supernatural to us as ours would seem to a Dark Age peasant transported to the twenty-first century. Imagine his response to a laptop computer, a mobile telephone, a hydrogen bomb or a jumbo jet.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

The whole point of religious faith, its strength and chief glory, is that it does not depend on rational justification. The rest of us are expected to defend our prejudices. But ask a religious person to justify their faith and you infringe 'religious liberty'.

RICHARD DAWKINS, "The Irrationality of Faith," New Statesman, Mar. 31, 1989

You could almost define a philosopher as someone who won't take common sense for an answer.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

It is an essential part of the scientific enterprise to admit ignorance, even to exult in ignorance as a challenge to future conquests.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

Science may be weird and incomprehensible--more weird and less comprehensible than any theology--but science works. It gets results. It can fly you to Saturn, slingshotting you around Venus and Jupiter on the way. We may not understand quantum theory (heaven knows, I don't), but a theory that predicts the real world to ten decimal places cannot in any straightforward sense be wrong.

RICHARD DAWKINS, afterward, A Universe from Nothing

Beliefs. Once entrenched in a culture, they persist, evolve and diverge, in a manner reminiscent of biological evolution.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

Human psychology has a near universal tendency to let belief be coloured by desire.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

An intelligent couple can read their Darwin and know that the ultimate reason for their sexual urges is procreation. They know that the woman cannot conceive because she is on the pill. Yet they find that their sexual desire is in no way diminished by the knowledge. Sexual desire is sexual desire and its force, in an individual's psychology, is independent of the ultimate Darwinian pressure that drove it. It is a strong urge which exists independently of its ultimate rationale.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

Most thoughtful people would agree that morality in the absence of policing is somehow more truly moral than the kind of false morality that vanishes as soon as the police go on strike or the spy camera is switched off, whether the spy camera is a real one monitored in the police station or an imaginary one in heaven.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

False beliefs can be every bit as consoling as true ones, right up until the moment of disillusionment.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

Does religion fill a much needed gap? It is often said that there is a God-shaped gap in the brain which needs to be filled: we have a psychological need for God -- imaginary friend, father, big brother, confessor, confidant -- and the need has to be satisfied whether God really exists or not. But could it be that God clutters up a gap that we'd be better off filling with something else? Science, perhaps? Art? Human friendship? Humanism? Love of this life in the real world, giving no credence to other lives beyond the grave?

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

Being dead will be no different from being unborn -- I shall be just as I was in the time of William the Conqueror or the dinosaurs or the trilobites. There is nothing to fear in that.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." The adage is true as long as you don't really believe the words. But if your whole upbringing, and everything you have ever been told by parents, teachers and priests, has led you to believe, really believe, utterly and completely, that sinners burn in hell (or some other obnoxious article of doctrine such as that a woman is the property of her husband), it is entirely plausible that words could have a more long-lasting and damaging effect than deeds.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe. If somebody announces that it is part of his faith, the rest of society, whether of the same faith, or another, or of none, is obliged, by ingrained custom, to "respect" it without question; respect it until the day it manifests itself in a horrible massacre like the destruction of the World Trade Center, or the London or Madrid bombings.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

RICHARD DAWKINS, attributed, The Root of All Evil

Computers do what they are told. They slavishly obey any instructions given in their own programming language. This is how they do useful things like word processing and spreadsheet calculations. But, as in inevitable by-product, they are equally robotic in obeying bad instructions. They have no way of telling whether an instruction will have a good effect or a bad. They simply obey, as soldiers are supposed to do. It is there unquestioning obedience that makes computers useful, and exactly the same thing makes them inescapably vulnerable to infection by software viruses and worms. A maliciously designed program that says, "Copy me and send me to every address that you find on this hard disk" will simply be obeyed, and then obeyed again by other computers down the line to which it is sent, in exponential expansion. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to design a computer which is usefully obedient and at the same time immune to infection.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The Blind Watchmaker

All religious beliefs seem weird to those not brought up in them.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion

It is often said, mainly by the 'no-contests', that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal's wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?

RICHARD DAWKINS, speech at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Apr. 15, 1992

Science is the poetry of reality.

RICHARD DAWKINS, "Slaves to Superstition", The Enemies of Reason

Reason has built the modern world. It is a precious but also a fragile thing, which can be corroded by apparently harmless irrationality. We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.

RICHARD DAWKINS, "Slaves to Superstition", The Enemies of Reason

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

RICHARD DAWKINS, River Out of Eden


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