A Devils Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

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A Devils Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

by Richard Dawkins

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | September 1, 2003 | Reinforced Library Binding

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One of the most renowned evolutionary biologists at work today, Richard Dawkins has written passionately for years on subjects that matter deeply to him - and matter urgently to all of us. A Devil''s Chaplain brings together the best and most provocative of his essays, on subjects ranging from evolution to ethics, from travel to literature, from education to religion. The result is an intriguing portrait of one of the finest minds in science. With eloquence and vigor, these essays put forward Dawkins''s most fundamental axiom: seek truth. He speaks out against pseudoscience and deftly dissects religion and mysticism. In a powerful letter to his ten-year-old daughter, he argues for the necessity of basing any belief on solid evidence. And he doesn''t shy away from skewering the loftiest institutions, whether judicial or educational. "To hell with... your fact-stuffed syllabuses and your endless roster of exams," he proclaims with refreshing directness. He writes infectiously of his awe at the marvelous complexity of the universe, pays moving tribute to dear friends and worthy colleagues, and tenderly recalls his boyhood in Africa. Uncompromising, even ruthless as Dawkins famously is when defending scientific truth and reason, this collection also shows a gentler, more contemplative side which may surprise his many readers. Here we meet the essential Richard Dawkins: inspirational in both his unswerving attention to rationalism and his abiding passions.

Format: Reinforced Library Binding

Dimensions: 272 pages, 9.25 × 6.25 × 0.88 in

Published: September 1, 2003

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0618335404

ISBN - 13: 9780618335404

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– More About This Product –

A Devils Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

by Richard Dawkins

Format: Reinforced Library Binding

Dimensions: 272 pages, 9.25 × 6.25 × 0.88 in

Published: September 1, 2003

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0618335404

ISBN - 13: 9780618335404

Read from the Book

AUTHORS NOTE This book constitutes a personal selection, made by the Editor Latha Menon, from among all the articles and lectures, reflections and polemics, book reviews and forewords, tributes and eulogies that I have published (or in a few cases not previously published) over 25 years. There are many themes here, some arising out of Darwinism or science in general, some concerned with morality, some with religion, education, justice, history of science, some just plain personal. Though I admit to occasional flames of (entirely justified) irritation in my writing, I like to think that the greater part of it is good-humoured, perhaps even humorous. Where there is passion, well, there is much to be passionate about. Where there is anger, I hope it is a controlled anger. Where there is sadness, I hope it never spills over into despair but still looks to the future. But mostly science is, for me, a source of living joy, and I hope it comes through in these pages. My contribution to the book itself has been to write the preambles to each of the seven sections, reflecting on the essays Latha has chosen and the connections between them. Hers was the difficult task, and I am filled with admiration for the patience with which she read through vastly more of my writings than are here reproduced, and for the skill with which she achieved a subtler balance of them than I thought they possessed. Her own Introduction gives the reasoning behind her choice, and behind her sorting of the ess
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Table of Contents

CONTENTS Authors Note 1 Editors Introduction 3 1 Science and Sensibility 5 1.1 A Devils Chaplain 8 1.2 What is True? 14 1.3 Gaps in the Mind 20 1.4 Science, Genetics and Ethics: Memo for Tony Blair 27 1.5 Trial By Jury 38 1.6 Crystalline Truth and Crystal Balls 42 1.7 Postmodernism Disrobed 47 1.8 The Joy of Living Dangerously: Sanderson of Oundle 54 2 Light Will Be Thrown 61 2.1 Light Will Be Thrown 63 2.2 Darwin Triumphant 78 2.3 The Information Challenge 91 2.4 Genes Arent Us 104 2.5 Son of Moores Law 107 3 The Infected Mind 117 3.1 Chinese Junk and Chinese Whispers 119 3.2 Viruses of the Mind 128 3.3 The Great Convergence 146 3.4 Dolly and the Cloth Heads 152 3.5 Time to Stand Up 156 4 They Told Me, Heraclitus 163 4.1 Lament for Douglas 165 4.2 Eulogy for Douglas Adams 168 4.3 Eulogy for W. D. Hamilton 171 4.4 Snake Oil 179 5 Even the Ranks of Tuscany 187 5.1 Rejoicing in Multifarious Nature 190 5.2 The Art of the Developable 194 5.3 Hallucigenia, Wiwaxia and Friends 203 5.4 Human Chauvinism and Evolutionary Progress 206 5.5 Unfinished Correspondence with a Darwinian Heavyweight 218 6 There is All Africa and her Prodigies in Us 223 6.1 Ecology of Genes 225 6.2 Out of the Soul of Africa 228 6.3 I Speak of Africa and Golden Joys 231 6.4 Heroes and Ancestors 234 7 A Prayer for My Daughter 241 7.1 Good and Bad Reasons for Believing 242 Endnotes 249 Index 256

From the Publisher

One of the most renowned evolutionary biologists at work today, Richard Dawkins has written passionately for years on subjects that matter deeply to him - and matter urgently to all of us. A Devil''s Chaplain brings together the best and most provocative of his essays, on subjects ranging from evolution to ethics, from travel to literature, from education to religion. The result is an intriguing portrait of one of the finest minds in science. With eloquence and vigor, these essays put forward Dawkins''s most fundamental axiom: seek truth. He speaks out against pseudoscience and deftly dissects religion and mysticism. In a powerful letter to his ten-year-old daughter, he argues for the necessity of basing any belief on solid evidence. And he doesn''t shy away from skewering the loftiest institutions, whether judicial or educational. "To hell with... your fact-stuffed syllabuses and your endless roster of exams," he proclaims with refreshing directness. He writes infectiously of his awe at the marvelous complexity of the universe, pays moving tribute to dear friends and worthy colleagues, and tenderly recalls his boyhood in Africa. Uncompromising, even ruthless as Dawkins famously is when defending scientific truth and reason, this collection also shows a gentler, more contemplative side which may surprise his many readers. Here we meet the essential Richard Dawkins: inspirational in both his unswerving attention to rationalism and his abiding passions.

About the Author

Richard Dawkins taught zoology at the University of California at Berkeley and at Oxford University and is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he has held since 1995. Among his previous books are The Ancestors Tale, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and A Devils Chaplain. Dawkins lives in Oxford with his wife, the actress and artist Lalla Ward.

Editorial Reviews

"Dawkinss enthusiasm for the diversity of life on this planet should prove contagious."
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