Scientist and author, Richard Dawkins is well-known for his atheist beliefs and criticism of creationist religions. Here is our collection of Richard Dawkins quotes on science, religion, atheism, and education.
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. “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
2. “Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun.” — Richard Dawkins
3. “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
4. “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
5. “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
6. “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
7. “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
8. “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
9. “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
10. “Science is the poetry of reality.” — Richard Dawkins
11. “Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not.” — Richard Dawkins
12. “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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
May 5, 2021 7:00 AM EST