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50 Richard Dawkins Quotes About Science, Religion, and Atheism

You may agree or disagree with these Richard Dawkins quotes when it comes to religion, but let us know in the comments if any of these quotes stand out to you.

Scientist and author, Richard Dawkins is well-known for his atheist beliefs and criticism of creationist religions.

Richard Dawkins is a British ethologist, a scientist who studies animal behaviors. He earned his degree in zoology from Oxford University and began his early career as a professor’s assistant there before moving to the University of California, Berkeley in 1967.

He is most well-known for his first book, published in 1976, The Selfish Gene, where he describes how natural selection takes place at a genetic level. In the same book, he also coined the term, “meme”, to refer to a cultural gene – something popular that gets passed around. The word meme has since become part of everyday language, now usually referring to a popular post on the internet.

Don’t forget to also check out these Charles Darwin quotes to build your foundation of scientific reasoning.

Richard Dawkins quotes about science

1. “Science is the poetry of reality.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: This is the tail end of a quote in which Dawkins reminds us that even though mundane is used to describe something dull, the root origin of the word is different. The Latin word mundus means “the world.” He goes on to say how the world is anything but dull. He also states that there is real poetry in the real world.

2. “Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: Myths and faith are important to a lot of people, and that is ok! Science is an evidence based approach to figuring out, fixing, and improving the world we live in. You have every right to believe in faith. However, I would also say that if we can believe and trust in things we can not prove, then it shouldn’t be to hard to believe in the things that science does prove!

3. “Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: There are people who doubt both of these theories. However, just because you might doubt (or believe) something, doesn’t make it true. Research and looking into fact based theories just makes sense sometimes.

4. “You can’t blame science for being used for evil purposes. What you can do is say, ‘This is an exceedingly powerful tool.’ And you want to make sure it is used for good purposes, not bad ones. That is a political decision.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: Science is an incredibly powerful tool. Science itself is not good or evil. The people who use the tools determine the consequences of that use. Dawkins calls it a political decision, because most of us are not in a position to determine how scientific advances are used. Rather it is the people we vote into office that decide these things.

5. “Science has eradicated smallpox, can immunize against most previously deadly viruses, can kill most previously deadly bacteria. Theology has done nothing but talk of pestilence as the wages of sin.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: Thoughts and prayers are the preferred response of the faithful. And for some people that works. However, for other people, they want results. Science gives us the ability to save lies daily, improve the quality of life, and create change.

6. “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: There are a few things that the scientific community considers evidence for evolution. These things are: anatomy, molecular biology, biogeography, fossils, & direct observation. You can read this article to learn more about evolution.

7. “People sometimes say that you must believe in feelings deep inside, otherwise you’d never be confident of things like ‘My wife loves me’. But this is a bad argument. There can be plenty of evidence that somebody loves you. All through the day when you are with somebody who loves you, you see and hear lots of little tidbits of evidence, and they all add up. It isn’t purely inside feeling, like the feeling that priests call revelation. There are outside things to back up the inside feeling: looks in the eye, tender notes in the voice, little favors and kindnesses; this is all real evidence.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: Show the people that you love, that you actually love them! Learn the love language of your partner, and do something that meets their love language needs everyday. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but rather the little everyday things that add up!

8. “Just because science can’t in practice explain things like the love that motivates a poet to write a sonnet, that doesn’t mean that religion can. It’s a simple and logical fallacy to say, ‘If science can’t do something therefore religion can.’” — Richard Dawkins

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Everyday Application: There are things that are unknown to science and unknown to man. However, human beings like to create some sort of understanding about our surroundings. So, while we might find comfort in this idea that religion has the answer, that doesn’t mean it makes sense. For instance, if a child asks mom a question and she doesn’t know, it would be illogical for the child to decide that whatever dad tells him is the truth. It is quite possible dad does not know either, or he is wrong.

9. “There is something wrong with using faith – belief without evidence – as a political weapon. I wouldn’t say there is something similar about using science. Science – or the products of science like technology – is just a way of achieving something real, something that happens, something that works.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: The definition for faith is belief without evidence. Our judicial and political system is based on facts and evidence, which means faith should not be used as a political weapon. Especially, since not everyone shares the same faith. This doesn’t mean that politicians can’t be faithful, but rather that faith should stay out of politics and laws.

10. “It’s known that stress gives rise to disease. It’s also known that many diseases, especially stress-related diseases, can be cured by placebos – pills that have no medicinal effect, but people think they do, and so they do.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: Your brain believes what you tell it! Placebos are a fantastic indicator of how focusing on the positive, or believing in something can alter your physical symptoms. Now, this doesn’t mean you can think your way out of something like cancer, but you can impact your daily life by focusing on the positive, practicing gratitude, and believing that good things are coming!

11. “The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: Natural selection refers to an organisms ability to adapt to changes in the environment and survive. The ability to adapt is a both a trait and skill, meaning that you can do things to improve your own adaptiveness. First, recognize that nothing is permanent and don’t expect everything to be stable. Next, focus on the positives when change is happening. This doesn’t mean the bad parts just disappear, but focusing on the positive will allow you to approach the situation with a new perspective.

12. “What you cannot have is a gene that sacrifices itself for the benefit of other genes. What you can have is a gene that makes organisms sacrifice themselves for other organisms under the influence of selfish genes.” — Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins quotes about God and religion

13. “Religion: Together we can find the cure.” — Richard Dawkins

14. “Religion has been a powerful weapon in the hands of governments, in the hands of priests, in the hands of kings who have used it as a weapon to keep down the populace. It is a wonderful way of disciplining people and making them do what you want, to tell them that if they don’t do what you want they will, for example, go to Hell.” — Richard Dawkins

15. “There’s a natural tendency for children to, in some sense, inherit the cultural values of their parents. I’m not against that, that’s fine, that’s wonderful. What I am against is labeling. Nobody ever labels a child a cricketer because his father is a cricketer, but they do label a child a Catholic because his parents are Catholic. I think it’s more or less unique. Nobody ever labels a child a socialist or a conservative or a liberal because that’s what their parents are.” — Richard Dawkins

16. “I’d like everybody to be secular. I suppose I have to say politically I would like religion to become gentler and nicer and to stop interfering with other people’s lives, stop repressing women, stop indoctrinating children, all that sort of thing. But I really, really would like to see religion go away altogether.” — Richard Dawkins

17. “Some sort of belief in all-powerful supernatural beings is common, if not universal. A tendency to obey authority, perhaps especially in children, a tendency to believe what you’re told, a tendency to fear your own death, a tendency to wish to see your loved ones who have died, to wish to see them again, a wish to understand where you came from, where the world came from, all these psychological predispositions, under the right cultural conditions, tend to lead to people believing in things for which there is no evidence.” — Richard Dawkins

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18. “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

19. “How thoughtful of God to arrange matters so that, wherever you happen to be born, the local religion always turns out to be the true one.” — Richard Dawkins

20. “Religion is a powerful weapon that can be used because it persuades people to do things. And thus it can be used for good or ill. But it should not be a powerful weapon at all.” — Richard Dawkins

21. “Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.” — Richard Dawkins

22. “My love of truth and honesty forces me to notice that the liberal intelligentsia of Western countries is betraying itself where Islam is concerned.” — Richard Dawkins

23. “I could easily believe that religion could enhance health and hence survival and that therefore there could be indeed be literally Darwinian survival value, Darwinian selection in favor of religion. None of that, of course, bears at all upon the truth value of the claims made by religions.” — Richard Dawkins

24. “Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.” — Richard Dawkins

25. “A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right.” — Richard Dawkins

26. “My point is not that religion itself is the motivation for wars, murders, and terrorist attacks, but that religion is the principal label, and the most dangerous one, by which a “they” as opposed to a “we” can be identified at all.” — Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins quotes about atheism

27. “I do believe that nice religious people make the world safe for extremists by teaching us that faith is a virtue, that there’s something good about holding beliefs without any substantiating evidence, that you believe because you believe. Once you buy into that, then the door is opened to extremists who defend their extremism by saying, ‘Oh well, it’s my faith, you can’t touch it, you can’t criticize my faith, I don’t even need to defend it because faith is faith.’” — Richard Dawkins

28. “If I were God wanting to make a human being, I would do it by a more direct way rather than by evolution. Why deliberately set it up in the one way which makes it look as though you don’t exist?” — Richard Dawkins

29. “I don’t understand why so many people who are sophisticated in science go on believing in God. I wish I did.” — Richard Dawkins

30. “Religious people are atheists about all other gods, atheists only take it, one god, further.” — Richard Dawkins

31. “God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture.” — Richard Dawkins

32. “If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.” — Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins quotes about education

33. “The Bible should be taught, but emphatically not as reality. It is fiction, myth, poetry, anything but reality. As such it needs to be taught because it underlies so much of our literature and our culture.” — Richard Dawkins

34. “I think we certainly benefit from social institutions which encourage us towards moral behavior. It’s very important to have law. It’s very important to have a moral education.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: What is moral behavior? Morality is feeling of rightness about our behavior and the behavior of others. Moral behavior is behavior that meets a societal, legal, and inner standard. Much of morality is learned, but it is a very complex subject. For instance, immoral things can be legal and illegal things could be moral. Check out this article for more about morality.

35. “I am thrilled to be alive at time when humanity is pushing against the limits of understanding. Even better, we may eventually discover that there are no limits.” — Richard Dawkins

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Everyday Application: Just take a moment and imagine what life would look like if the humans who came before us did not push past the limits of their understanding. Something as simple as the use of fire to cook food, or as complex as rockets into space, would not exist. The only limits that exist are those that we place on our minds and imagination.

36. “The majority of children born into the world tend to inherit the beliefs of their parents, and that to me is one of the most regrettable facts of them all.” — Richard Dawkins

37. “By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” — Richard Dawkins

38. “Let children learn about different faiths, let them notice their incompatibility, and let them draw their own conclusions about the consequences of that incompatibility. As for whether they are ‘valid,’ let them make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so.” — Richard Dawkins

39. “Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: Learning how to think for ourselves and evaluate evidence is a key part of growth. Some of the best ways you can learn (or teach your children) to think for yourself include: evaluating your beliefs, developing a strong sense of self, and cultivating traits like empathy. When evaluating evidence make sure that is comes from a reliable source, such as a peer reviewed study.

40. “You can never be absolutely certain that anything doesn’t exist. But you can show that it’s unlikely.” — Richard Dawkins

More Richard Dawkins quotes

41. “Commonsense lets us down because commonsense evolved in a world where nothing moves very fast, and nothing is very small or very large; the mundane world of the familiar.” — Richard Dawkins

42. “It has become almost a cliche to remark that nobody boasts of ignorance of literature, but it is socially acceptable to boast ignorance of science and proudly claim incompetence in mathematics.” — Richard Dawkins

43. “There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.” — Richard Dawkins

44. “Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one.” — Richard Dawkins

45. “It’s very important to try to inculcate into children moral rules, such as “do as you would be done by.” — Richard Dawkins

46. “Let us try to teach generosity and altruism because we are born selfish.” — Richard Dawkins

47. “We accept that people are irrational for good Darwinian reasons. But I don’t think we should be so pessimistic as to think that therefore we’re forever condemned to be irrational.” — Richard Dawkins

48. “Some people find clarity threatening. They like muddle, confusion, obscurity. So when somebody does no more than speak clearly it sounds threatening.” — Richard Dawkins

49. “Sometimes in life, it is a good idea to stop, sometimes it is a good idea to go on. The trick is to decide when to stop.” — Richard Dawkins

Everyday Application: Stop doesn’t have to mean quit. Deciding to stop something can include taking a break. How do you decide when to stop and not just take a break? If a goal is no longer important to you, then go ahead and stop. If it isn’t fueling your purpose, then you don’t need to continue down the path. If the reward is not worth the work and sacrifice that you are making, then give yourself permission to let it go.

50. “Human beings are just gene machines.” — Richard Dawkins

What did you learn from these Richard Dawkins quotes?

Richard Dawkins is a well-known atheist and has often appeared on television shows, documentaries, and radio shows to share his anti-religious viewpoints. He has also published several books on the subject including, The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion.

Dawkins has produced several television documentaries that both celebrate Darwinian science and educate the world on his atheist beliefs.

In 2001, Dawkins was named a member of the British Royal Society in celebration of his scientific contributions.

Did you enjoy these Richard Dawkins quotes and sayings? Which quote was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Sckylar Gibby-Brown
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