Biologist Richard Dawkins talks about the creator of evolutionary theory
In Charles Darwin’s day, his theories of evolution and natural selection aroused plenty of controversy, though the debate was arguably less nasty than it sometimes seems today.
Darwin loathed the fuss, preferring to cloister himself at Down House, his rural home in Kent, England, where he could study without distraction.
It was left to others to defend his epic research, most notably a handful of fellow scientists who provided staunch and vocal support. Among them: Thomas Henry Huxley, a noted naturalist in his own right whose defense of Darwin was so unwavering that he was called “Darwin’s bulldog.”
A century and a half later, Darwin’s work still arouses critics and still demands, it seems, determined defenders. Among them: Richard Dawkins, the 68-year-old English biologist and best-selling author, whose rousing defense and explanations of evolution have earned him international admiration, the enduring enmity of creationists and the nickname “Darwin’s Rottweiler.”
Dawkins, who retired last year from the Charles Simonyi Chair for Public Understanding in Science at Oxford University, was in San Diego recently to accept the $25,000 Nierenberg Prize, given annually by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to honor outstanding contributions to science in the public interest. Dawkins talked about the man who has informed and influenced so much of his life.