Belated Happy Birthday to Richard Dawkins

Much belated but exceedingly boisterous for all that (sprained wrists, bung hip, black eye and all) Happy Birthday wishes are called for, to Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and science writer extraordinaire (d.o.b. 26 March 1941). This man needs medals and gushing praise, not “just” for the incredible books he has written and what he has done to make evolutionary biology accessible, fascinating and sexy, even, but also for his contribution to literature.  Not only in the field of science, but for his beautifully concise, streamlined, downright poetic writing style – plus being self-deprecating and dryly witty too!

The Blind Watchmaker was the first of his books I read, I then proceeded to track down and devour everything else he has written before and since.  Climbing Mount Improbable was my favourite, until reading The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life. This is a truly incredible, inspiring and beautiful book.  Even if you’re not “into” science I’d recommend it.  Richard Dawkins has a gift for making complex subjects accessible to the reader without “dumbing down” the slightest bit – as many so-called “popular science” writers do (and oh for the love of mitochondrial DNA, do I ever loathe and despise that moniker – “popular science” indeed – what precisely does that mean?)

Dawkins slips in many witty acerbic asides directed to pro-Creationists, and the opening and closing paragraphs of The Ancestor’s Tale are the best reasons* to study the beauty of evolution of life on earth and give Creationism the contempt it deserves (*I can’t call them “arguments” as what’s the point in arguing with a Creationist? You can’t have a rational conversation/discussion with a totally irrational person).

Happy Birthday Professor Dawkins, long life to you. And if you never get a Nobel Prize for contributions to Science, you ought to get one for Literature.


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