The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything, for it simply postulates what we are trying to explain.
Dawkins, who held the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, is known for his books The Blind Watchmaker, The Selfish Gene, River out of Eden and Climbing Mount Improbable. In all of his work he successfully explains how complex forms of life evolved from simple forms of life. In a number of lectures and debates, notably the Voltaire Lecture "Viruses of the Mind", he demands that scientists and other rational people stop waffling and accept the lack of evidence for religious claims and draw the obvious conclusions: there is no god, and religion is a pack of lies.
His 2006 book The God Delusion critically examines religion and its claims. As of late October 2006, it ranks near the top of the bestseller lists.
Along with the new book is the launch of The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
"The survival value of the god meme in the meme pool results from its great psychological appeal. It provides a superficially plausible answer to deep and troubling questions about existence. It suggests that injustices in this world may be rectified in the next. The 'everlasting arms' hold out a cushion against our own inadequacies which, like a doctor's placebo, is none the less effective for being imaginary. These are some of the reasons why the idea of God is copied so readily by successive generations of individual brains. God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture." -- from The Selfish Gene
Dawkins wrote an article for Free Inquiry magazine (Volume 18, Number 2) where he disputes the claim that science and religion occupy separate domains. It can be found at http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/dawkins_18_2.html
The following interview is excerpted from a conversation between Mother Jones contributing writer Michael Krasny and Richard Dawkins [...]. The interview took place on March 17, 1997, at San Francisco's Herbst Theater at a California Academy of Sciences benefit.
MK: You're known for your atheism and your comment that "religion is a virus." Are you more tolerant toward religion these days?
RD: No. I am often asked to explain as a biologist why religion has such a hold. The theory is this: When a child is young, for good Darwinian reasons, it would be valuable if the child believed everything it's told. A child needs to learn a language, it needs to learn the social customs of its people, it needs to learn all sorts of rules -- like don't put your finger in the fire, and don't pick up snakes, and don't eat red berries. There are lots of things that for good survival reasons a child needs to learn.
So it's understandable that Darwinian natural selection would have built into the child's brain the rule of thumb, "Be fantastically gullible; believe everything you're told by your elders and betters."
That's a good rule, and it works. But any rule that says "Believe everything you're told" is automatically going to be vulnerable to parasitization. Computers, for example, are vulnerable to parasitization because they believe all they're told. If you tell them in the right programming language, they'll do it. Computer viruses work by somebody writing a program that says, "Duplicate me and, while you're at it, erase this entire disk."
My point is that the survival mechanism that makes children's brains believe what they're told -- for good reason -- is automatically vulnerable to parasitic codes such as "You must believe in the great juju in the sky," or "You must kneel down and face east and pray five times a day." These codes are then passed down through generations. And there's no obvious reason why it should stop.
There's an additional factor in the virus theory, which is that those viruses that are good at surviving will be the ones that are more likely to survive. So, if the virus says, "If you don't believe in this you will go to hell when you die," that's a pretty potent threat, especially to a child. Or, if it says, "When you become a little bit older you will meet people who will tell you the opposite of this, and they will have remarkably plausible arguments and they'll have lots of what they'll call evidence on their side and you'll be really tempted to believe it, but the more tempted you are, the more that's just Satan getting at you." This is exactly what many creationists in this country have been primed with.
MK: You've said that when you discovered Darwin, everything fell into place. You felt a peace of mind. How was your atheism confirmed by Darwinism?
RD: Before I discovered Darwin, I was fascinated by the apparent design and beauty of living things. I knew enough biology to know that living creatures are prodigiously complicated and elegant. They look exactly as though they'd been designed. That was why I believed in a divine creator. Because I had been so persuaded by this argument for design, when I discovered Darwinism, I had a kind of "road to Damascus" experience.
I think there is a serenity that comes from understanding, from being able to solve a mystery. And the bigger the mystery, the greater the serenity. When you think about the diversity, complexity, and beauty of life -- the elegance of the apparent design of life -- it adds up to a colossal mystery. And the solution, Darwin's solution, is quite remarkably simple. My serenity comes from the satisfaction of seeing a really, really neat, elegant explanation that can explain so much.
In the following excerpt from "God's Utility Function," Scientific American, November 1995, p. 85 Dawkins questions the idea of a universe with a mystical purpose:
"The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. <quoting Darwin:> The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."
"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence." -- Richard Dawkins
A rich repository of Dawkins material (including plenty of his writings) can be found at richarddawkins.net
21-Jun-2003 Dawkins mentions this site in his column  in the Guardian. //Thanks Professor!//
A May 2005 interview with Dawkins wherein he discusses his atheism: The atheist: Interview with Richard Dawkins
Collection of audio and video files featuring Dawkins discussing religion, evolution and related topics: