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Richard Dawkins – The Genius of Charles Darwin – Part 1: Life, Darwin & Everything [+Subs]

Richard Dawkins – The Genius of Charles Darwin – Part 1: Life, Darwin & Everything [+Subs]

This series is about perhaps
the most powerful idea ever to occur to a human mind. The idea is evolution
by natural selection. And the genius who thought
of it was Charles Darwin. I’m a biologist and Darwin
has been an inspiration to me throughout my whole career. His masterpiece, On The Origin Of
Species, was published 150 years ago. And it changed forever our view
of the world and our place in it. What Darwin achieved was nothing
less than a complete explanation of the complexity
and diversity of all life. And yet, it’s one of the simplest
ideas that anyone ever had. In this series,
I want to persuade you that evolution offers a far richer
and more spectacular view of life than any religious story. It’s one reason why
I don’t believe in God. I want to show you how Darwin opened
our eyes to the extraordinary reality of our world. In this first programme, I’m going to
tell you who Charles Darwin was, explain how he discovered his
theory of evolution, what it is, and why it matters. By the end, I hope to have convinced
you of the truth that evolution is a fact,
backed by undeniable evidence. And I want to give you a glimpse
of the brutal elegance of the force which, Darwin realised,
drives evolution on… ..natural selection. When Charles Darwin
was born 200 years ago, sailors and explorers
were sending home a dizzying array of specimens
like these from all parts of Britain’s
growing empire. Every animal was believed to have
a unique place in God’s creation, each made by God according to
his perfect, unchanging design. At school in Shrewsbury, the young Charles Darwin was taught
that God had created the Earth, and all this rich variety of life
just 6,000 years ago. Today, thanks to Darwin,
we know differently. But even now, according to polls,
four out of every ten British people prefer to cling to the old ideas and believe that God
created our world and every living creature in it. I think it’s scandalous how little our children are taught
about evolution at school. A typical class gets
just a few hours to study one of the most
important ideas in science. This lot got me. I went to meet a science class
of 15 to 16-year-olds at Park High School in London to
try to open their eyes to Darwinism. Why do we need to find out
about evolution? Why do we need to find out
about evolution? Because it is the explanation
for our existence and because it explains such a huge number
of facts, because everything we know
about life is explained by it. I believe in my religion so whenever I read about evolution, I can’t understand it,
I don’t believe it, I just, like, believe my religion. Right, so you know what
you believe when you start, and any new book that says
anything different, you don’t read it? Even if you’ve got evidence, I just like…I’ve found
a stronger evidence, which is the Holy Book, so… So, the reason you believe it is because that’s the one
you were told first? ‘I can see that a few hours
in the science lab is no match ‘for a lifetime of religious
indoctrination.’ I was brought up to believe it. Is that a good reason
to believe something? Yeah, because I went to church
since I was little. Yeah, and it says it in the Bible. Yes, but in the Hindu
sacred scriptures, it says something different,
doesn’t it? Yeah, they’re brought up
to believe that… So everybody should believe
what they’re brought up to believe even though they contradict
each other? You can be made to believe
something in science, and then, you can be made to believe
something in religious studies, but it’s really up to you
what you believe. You can’t just say that… Well, look, I hate this phrase,
“made to believe”, that’s awful, and I would hate anybody to think I was trying to make
anybody believe anything. I’m asking you to look
at the evidence. Perhaps you haven’t got
a full impression of how strong the evidence
actually is. Nobody has seen evolution
take place over a long period, but they’ve seen the after effects, and the after effects
are massively supported. It’s like a case in a court of law where nobody can stand up and say,
“I saw the murder happen”, but yet, you’ve got millions
and millions of pieces of evidence which no reasonable person
could possibly dispute. That’s sort of the way it is. ‘There’s only one thing for it – ‘I’m going to show them evidence – ‘something they can touch with their
own hands, see with their own eyes. ‘Later, we’ll see if I can
make them think again. ‘When Charles Darwin was a teenager, ‘he would have been
as much of a creationist ‘as some of these children.’ Darwin was born into a prosperous
Shropshire family in 1809. His father was a doctor, and keen that his son should
follow in his scientific footsteps. But the adolescent Charles, more interested in shooting and
fishing than academic prowess, was contemplating an easy life
as a country parson. Luckily for him, and for us, he had the opportunity to open
his eyes to see the world. In 1831, as a young man of 22, Darwin’s family connections got him
a once-in-a-lifetime invitation – a round-the-world voyage on
the survey ship, HMS Beagle. Over five years, Darwin collected
hundreds and hundreds of specimens to send back to the collections. But increasingly, he wasn’t satisfied
with just recording the animals and plants he saw. He was beginning to have doubts
about the Biblical story of how animals were created. While ashore, riding across
the South American flatlands, Darwin amused himself by chasing after rheas –
shy, ostrich-like flightless birds. But he was puzzled. Why had God bothered to create two very similar but slightly
different types of rhea? Had an original group
of rhea split in two, and once separated,
started to develop in their own way? The mystery deepened when Darwin
noticed an even more marked effect – on islands. I was lucky enough to retread
Darwin’s footsteps on the Galapagos Islands last year. Here, he began to wonder why God would have created
distinctive kinds of tortoise, finch or iguana on more or less
identical small islands. Were iguanas like these related
rather than separately created? Were they cousins of the similar but
different iguanas on nearby islands? This pattern of relationships became even more intriguing
when Darwin encountered fossils. The evidence of fossils would help Darwin develop a theory
of life on Earth far more wonderful and more moving than any religious story of creation. This team of American scientists has uncovered the remains of
two-million-year-old ground sloths. Today, I’m joining the dig because it was fossils like these that made a huge impression
on the young Charles Darwin during his voyage on HMS Beagle. To Darwin, they looked like ancient,
giant versions of animals he saw around him. (MAN) The ground sloths flourished for millions of years,
and were quite successful. – They were huge, weren’t they?
– Some of them were. They were bear-sized, up to…almost
rivalling mammoths and mastodons, up to six metres in height when
they reared up onto their hind legs. (DAWKINS) What struck Darwin was
how, apart from their enormous size, the fossils closely resembled
in every other detail the skeletons of modern sloths
living nearby. (MAN) You can see similarities in the
details of their teeth, peculiar features that they share
with modern armadillos, modern tree sloths
and modern anteaters. We can infer that they are
related to these animals. (DAWKINS) The discovery of fossils
was a huge challenge to the religious orthodoxy
of Darwin’s youth. What were these animals?
When had they lived? And why didn’t they exist any more? Some suggested that fossils were just
God playfully ornamenting his world. Others claimed they were the bones of sinners
drowned in Noah’s flood. But Darwin was one of the first
scientists to correctly identify them as
long-dead species of animals. He was starting to grasp that
the Earth might be a lot older than the Bible led us to believe. And how had he realised this? Through a fascination with geology. During the voyage of the Beagle, Darwin had had time to immerse
himself in the pioneering work
of Charles Lyell. Lyell argued that the landscape
we saw around us was formed by the slow action of vast forces,
not thousands, but millions of years of gradual
change. So, if the Earth was shaped
and reshaped over an immense period of time, was there room,
Darwin began to wonder, for life to undergo slow changes
as well? You know how old these rocks are? They’re about 200 million years old. Back in the 19th century,
lots and lots of people came here to look for fossils. And some of the most famous
fossils have been found here. ‘I’m taking the science class
I met earlier to the beach. ‘Many of these teenagers
have been brought up ‘to mistrust the idea of evolution. ‘I’m hoping they’ll find a small
fragment of the kind of evidence ‘that made Charles Darwin
think again.’ Do you know what our ancestors
were like 200 million years ago? – They weren’t…
– They were around, they wouldn’t have been here because this would have been
the bottom of the sea. They would have been kind of like
shrews, little whiskery, twitchy… It seems to be like a dream,
but it’s real. Yeah, yes, it does, doesn’t it? This is all sedimentary rock, meaning it’s laid down at the bottom
of the sea, mud coming down, layer after layer after layer –
that’s what fossils are. ‘On a beach like this, ‘the pounding sea gradually
exposes different layers of rock ‘and within them, hidden treasure – ‘a history of past life on Earth. ‘So, each layer you go down to, ‘you find a completely
different set of animals.’ And if you look at the animals
that you find, and plants, over the great span of time, you find that they form
a kind of ordered sequence, you find fish, 400 million years ago,
but you find no mammals at all 400 million years ago. The fish gradually changed into
amphibians, changed into reptiles, reptiles changed into birds,
changed into mammals. Did you find that? – Yes.
– Oh, that’s terrific. That’s really great. Yeah. That’s a beautiful ammonite. That’s really beautiful. Well done
for finding that. That’s wonderful. ‘The fossil hunt has been a success. ‘Like Darwin, these teenagers
have been brought face to face ‘with some tangible remnants
of evolution.’ The evidence Darwin had seen with his
own eyes on the voyage of the Beagle seeded huge heretical
questions in his mind. And once he started thinking,
he couldn’t stop. Darwin, once
an easily distracted student, returned from the voyage
of the Beagle a determined, even
obsessive research scientist. The trip had changed him and it was
soon to change the world forever. Back in London in the late 1830s,
the specimens he’d collected and his reporting of the voyage
made Darwin a scientific celebrity. Even more importantly,
while cataloguing his finds, Darwin realised that
life forms weren’t fixed. They had changed over time. They must have evolved. Now, he wanted to pull together
all the evidence to understand how and why
this had happened. It took Darwin 20 years of research,
on and off, to develop the ideas that would eventually be set out in
The Origin Of Species. He wanted to be fully certain
of his facts. BIRDS TWITTER The hard graft was done here
at Darwin’s home, Down House in Kent. Long before the days
of the internet, of course, Darwin drew upon
the collective knowledge of an entire generation of
naturalists all over the world. He sent out thousands of letters
asking for data, posing questions,
trying out theories. And back the letters flowed from all around the world into
Down House, a river of information. Darwin studied the detail
of how different mammals share remarkably similar skeletons. Their limbs have the same
bones in the same order, just reshaped and resized
to suit different ways of life. He was drawn to the similarity
of early embryo development in very different types of animals – fish, birds, reptiles. Increasingly, he became convinced that every living thing
must be related to every other. Darwin began to see the history
of life as a vast family tree. Life began millions of years ago
at the base of the tree, and as time went by,
our ancestors evolved, split off and multiplied along
branches until now,
every species on the planet is a twig at the end of a branch – all are related, all cousins. Life had evolved from single cells
into complex sophisticated beings. It may seem like a huge leap, but Darwin realised it had
been achieved by small steps over a vast span of time. He grasped the immense age
of the Earth. Darwin believed the world was
hundreds of millions of years old. Today, we know it’s
over four billion years old, and the life we can
actually see around us has existed for an insignificant
blink of that time. Darwin’s wife Emma used to play
to him on the piano in this very room, and Darwin would lie
on the sofa and listen. It’s not clear how much
he got out of it, though, because it was once said of him he was so tone deaf that people
had to nudge him to stand up when they were playing
God Save The Queen. I want to use this piano to illustrate
the vastness of geological time, and yet how comparatively
little of it is occupied by those animals and
plants that we know anything about. If we have the origin of life at
the bottom of the piano there, and recent times at the top, I find it astonishing that we have nothing
but bacteria all the way up here, past middle C, way up to about here, when more complicated cells
than bacteria first evolve. And then we get
the first mini-celled animals, the first large animals
somewhere here, fish start around here, the dinosaurs don’t come in
until about here, and then, the extinction
of the dinosaurs around here. About here, the apes and monkeys, and the whole of human history would occupy a space less than
the width of one piano STRING right at the top of the keyboard. Life had evolved over time. But how had this happened?
Why hadn’t creatures stayed the same? WINGS FLAP, PIGEONS COO Darwin wasn’t just
an abstract theorist, he like to get his hands dirty, testing his ideas, and in the 1850s, he became
fascinated by pigeons, by how man had remoulded
the wild rock dove into a rich variety of forms. Darwin’s bird specimens
are now stored at the Natural History Museum
at Tring. It’s a very weird feeling, these are actually
Darwin’s own specimens. I see from Darwin’s own label here
that this is a blue owl pigeon. Tumblers are characterised by
this curious tumbling behaviour that they show, sort of
falling through the sky. This one has been relabelled,
it is a Darwin specimen. This one actually has
Darwin’s original label here. Darwin realised that, for centuries,
through small steps, pigeon breeders had been in the business of
evolution. Here was life in constant flux. One of the big things
Darwin had to fight against was the feeling that people had that species were species and they
never changed into anything else. Artificial selection on dogs,
pigeons, cabbages, was a beautiful illustration for
Darwin of how plastic things were, you could pull them, it was
like modelling clay, almost – you could take a wild animal
and pull bits out, press other bits in, enlarge bits. It was showing that there’s
nothing static about species. Species can change. Now, in his 40s, Darwin
became a pigeon fancier. He kept some 90 birds of 16 types, devoured books on breeding
and attended numerous pigeon shows. What excited Darwin was the powerful
comparison that could be drawn between domestic breeding
and what he’d observed of nature acting on wild animals like the finches he’d
collected in Galapagos. In the pigeon’s case,
it’s artificial selection, it’s human breeders using their eye
to choose – I think I’ll breed from that one,
I want the beak longer, or shorter, I want the plumage
to be whiter or fluffier. So, breed from the one that
has the quality you want, and then, after surprisingly few
generations, you can produce a change in the breed. In nature,
it’s not like that, of course. Nobody comes along and says, “I want one that has
a great big, thick beak.” Nevertheless, given that
there are tough seeds that only a thick beak can crack, natural selection favours
those individual birds that succeed
in cracking the seeds, until you end up with this sort of
climax beak, which is really huge, the product of tens of thousands
of generations of… natural selection breeding for
ability to open tough seeds. BARKING Man had utterly transformed
many animals and plants by selecting for particular
characteristics over and over again. Nature was also doing this. But how could nature make
specific choices, as humans could? Darwin’s answer would
come in understanding exactly what nature is. 150 years ago, Charles Darwin’s work revolutionised
the way we understand our world. For 20 years, he had pieced together
evidence that proved the fact of
evolution and developed a theory
of how nature, not God, selects life in a similar way
to humans breeding pigeons. How does nature select? In the cruellest way. Today, much of the world is
controlled and cultivated by man, but there are still a few remote
places red in tooth and claw. I’ve come to Kenya, where I was born. It’s one of the wilder places on
Earth, where the full force of natural
selection can still be seen. As night falls, it’s kill, or be
killed. ANIMALS GRUNT The total amount of suffering
in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to
say these words, thousands of animals are running for
their lives, whimpering with fear, feeling teeth
sink into their throats. Thousands are dying from starvation
or disease or feeling a parasite rasping away
from within. There is no central authority, no
safety net. For most animals, the reality of life
is struggling, suffering, and death. For Darwin, grappling with nature’s
horrors must have been a huge
challenge. As a young man, he had wanted to become
a country parson. He had believed in an orderly
and harmonious animal kingdom. Now, he contemplated
the brutal reality of nature. Darwin’s brilliance was to connect
what he was seeing with an idea from a completely
different discipline – economics. Thomas Malthus had written
a popular influential diatribe about the perils of population growth
in early industrial Britain, and how this would inevitably be
stopped by food shortage and disease. Darwin seized upon Malthus’s warning
about a human struggle for resources, and he applied it
to what was happening in nature. As more individuals are produced
than can possibly survive, there must in every case
be a struggle for existence. Nature is an arena of pressure. Of every individual born, the chance of it surviving to
reproduce the next generation
is very, very small. Most animals die young. The next step for Darwin
was to realise this – what makes the difference
between success and failure in the struggle for existence
isn’t just chance. All living things vary, even if only slightly. Darwin realised this was the key, a tiny variation – sharper teeth
or faster legs, keener eyes, better camouflage, better sense of
smell can make a crucial difference in an animals chances of survival. If an animal survives,
it is more likely to reproduce and crucially, pass those variations
on to its offspring. Nature’s struggle for existence means
that organisms with helpful
variations tend on average to survive
and reproduce. Those without die without offspring. The race is survival. The finishing line is reproduction. This is what Darwin defined
as natural selection… ..the key to evolution. “Natural selection is daily and
hourly scrutinising throughout
the world “every variation, even the slightest, “rejecting that which is bad, “preserving and adding up
all that is good, “silently and insensibly working. “We see nothing of these
slow changes in progress, “until the hand of time
has marked the lapse of ages.” Gradually, very gradually, as
successful variations are inherited, natural selection sculpts life
into different shapes, better and better adapted to eke
resources out of their
particular surroundings. Longer necks are favoured
to feed from tall trees. Thinner fur for warmer climates. Life forms become ever more
specialised. And if separated from their
ancestral group by geography, by a forest or desert, on an island, they can specialise to such an extent
that they no longer breed
successfully with that ancestral group. They are then classified
as a distinct species. This is the origin of species. But evolution doesn’t stop there. These species are then themselves
honed by the presence of other
species. The environment in the form of lions
is getting systematically worse from the point of view of a zebra. And from the point of view of a lion,
zebras are getting systematically
worse, they’re getting better at
running away. Predators are getting better
at catching prey. Prey are getting better
at escaping from predators. So there’s a kind of escalation,
it’s an arms race. Arms races account for
the spectacularly advanced engineering of life – camouflage systems, camera lens eyes, venomous stings. Arms races can be seen
in unexpected places. Mankind is certainly not immune
to the nightmare Darwin called, “the war of nature.” We humans are currently
in a battle with viruses. It’s being fought all round
our world. Today, in the slums of Nairobi, natural selection acts
through a virulent disease cutting through the population. Nairobi’s prostitutes have,
on average,
seven to ten clients per day with a high prevalence of
HIV which causes AIDS. But genetic researchers have
found that some lucky individuals have a weapon in the arms race with
HIV… Salome?
Yeah.>How are you? I’m Richard. ‘..a remarkable resistance to the
virus.’ Can I ask, how long have
you been a sex worker? 25 years. And during that time,
have you lost many friends to AIDS? I have lost
many friends. Many friends? When did you first discover
that you are resistant to HIV? She knew for a long time, but she actually believed
completely in 1990 that she was resistant. She feels God has been good
to her and she’s the lucky one. Yes. It’s not God at work here in
all this squalor and suffering. And it’s not luck either. The Canadian scientist, Larry Gelmon, has studied the odds of survival. We knew the prevalence of HIV in the sex worker population, we knew the prevalence in
the clients they were dealing with, we knew how often they were
having sex with these people, and it was a mathematical
impossibility that
they should have been sex workers for as long as they have with
the number of contacts they had, and not become HIV infected. The resistance
these women have seems to be a variation that can be
passed on to their children. Some of the women
are related to each other familially, we also think there is some factor
in their blood, in their cells that is probably genetically
transmitted. (DAWKINS) I suppose if we
came back in 1,000 years, we might expect to see
a major shift in the frequency of these genes in the population? (GELMON) Yes, I think in any epidemic
situation, those people who are very vulnerable and susceptible
will get sick and die. And those people who are going to
survive are going
to have some kind of resistance which they’ll transmit on
to their descendants. Just as Europeans today are
descendents of those who
had the genes to survive the plague, so if Africa’s AIDS epidemic
took its course, natural selection would favour
of women with resistance to HIV. This is the unstoppable force of
natural selection
first revealed by Darwin, now observed by modern science. Back in England at Down House, now 20 years after his
voyage on the Beagle, Darwin had worked out the answers
to the biggest questions ever asked. But he was strangely reluctant
to go public with his idea. Darwin himself said that he’d
become a kind of machine for grinding theories out of
huge assemblages of facts. I think that wasn’t really
what it was like at all. He was an extraordinarily
imaginative, deep thinker. He had a prodigiously
curious mind as well. He was drawn to facts
that didn’t fit. He once said,
“I cannot bear to be beaten.” Darwin’s theory explained how
the diversity of life from the planet had evolved spontaneously
without interference from any god. But he was acutely aware
of how upsetting this flat contradiction of
the religious story would be. He hesitated to publish. Then, in June 1858,
Darwin received a letter from a naturalist travelling in the
Far East, Alfred Russel Wallace, which set our similar ideas. Darwin was in despair about
being scooped. He was even ready to drop
his life’s work. But he was persuaded by
Charles Lyell and others to present his unpublished work
alongside Wallace’s notes, and then complete his masterpiece
for publication. I’ve come to meet Randal Keynes,
Darwin’s great-great-grandson to try to understand
Darwin’s frame of mind as he finished his book. This is a book about
geology by Mr Greenough. It has this wonderful inscription – “Charles Darwin, Buenos Aires,
October 1832.” So he’s on the Beagle, really getting into
his stride as a geologist. This is a scrapbook,
a children’s scrapbook that belonged to Darwin’s daughter
Annie. ‘Darwin was
no aggressive polemicist. ‘He didn’t take to the stage
to publicise his work, ‘but sought to influence leading
thinkers behind the scenes, ‘by sending them proof copies of the
book with apologetic letters
attached.’ He would write things like,
“This vile rag of a theory of mine.” Was that genuine modesty or was there
an element of false modesty about it? It was entirely real, um, and this is
a very strange point about him. Through the years when he was
steeling himself for publication, um, he was, at different times,
enormously confident in it, and at other times,
he was utterly uncertain. He had a deep fear, I think, that one species would be discovered that had some element of its make-up that could only have been designed. Doubts may have lingered
in Darwin’s mind, but finally, 150 years ago,
he set out his ideas on evolution and how it worked
in The Origin Of Species. The book sold out its first run
of 1,250 copies within two days. It has never been out of print since. The Origin turned our world
upside down… ..but still there was one big gap
in Darwin’s understanding. 150 years ago, at the age of 50, Charles Darwin finally published
the big idea he had sat on for almost 20 years… ..a natural law that explains
life itself and the evidence available to him
to back it up. This is the most precious book
in my collection. It’s a genuine first edition
Origin Of Species. But it’s not just the most precious
book in my library. Charles Darwin’s Origin Of Species is one of the most precious books
in the entire library of our species. This book made it possible no longer to feel the necessity
to believe in anything supernatural. It completely revolutionised
the way we see ourselves, the world and our origins. But what Darwin never cracked was how the improvements
of natural selection were preserved
from generation to generation, why they didn’t become diluted
by interbreeding. It was only in the 20th century,
in the neo-Darwinian revolution, that scientists married
evolution with genetics. Genes are the long strings of code, instructions to the cells that build
all living things. Scientists now realise
that genes from the parents don’t blend as they combine
during reproduction. Each gene is inherited in its
entirety…or not at all. The science of the genes also showed
how new variations arose. When animals reproduce,
their genes are copied, and put into sperm and eggs. During that copying process, occasionally
there’s a random mistake. Those mistakes are mutations, which give rise
to new characteristics on which Darwinian natural selection
then acts. And, what’s more, genes can be compared
with pinpoint precision. The genes in every cell
of every living thing are made up of DNA – a code of the same four chemicals,
known as A, T, C and G, which these machines can analyse. Whether the cell builds a hamster,
a horse or a human simply depends on the order
of the letters in the code. Just as Darwin might have predicted, animals more closely related
by evolution have more similarities in their code
than more distantly related animals. And these codes can be printed out
right here in this man’s lab. In 2000, Craig Venter
was among the first scientists to map the human genome,
our sequence of code letters. In the process, this unlocked the ultimate proof
of Darwin’s Tree of Life. ‘He was looking at the visible world
and seeing how different it was.’ We now have the opportunity,
with this toolset, to look at the invisible world,
that he could only get hints of. And it shows that
there’s vast continuity from the simplest life forms
to the more complex. He, of course, emphasised diversity,
because that’s what he saw, the whole organism, but you’re
finding the incredible similarity that there is between creatures.
Even bacteria. To me, it’s not a theory any more.
I’ve looked at the genetic code of this wide diversity of species,
and it’s a continuum. Yes. Well, evolution is a fact. That’s right. I mean, there’s no question
about that, and I’m always being asked,
“Well, produce the evidence!” And, really, you’re producing
the best evidence of any. I mean, fossils are nice, but if we haven’t got a single fossil
anywhere… The genetic code on its own
is enough. the evidence from this lab alone
would be… Not just enough but overwhelmingly,
staggeringly enough. Darwin anticipated problems
with his theory. Modern science has answered them. Evolution by natural selection has been triumphantly vindicated
as fact. Case closed, surely. But can I convince
those school children? What’s so beautiful about DNA is that it’s turned biology into a
kind of branch of computer science, that every animal and plant
is carrying around, inside every one of its cells, an instruction book for making
that animal and making its children. You’ve got billions of letters
and you can actually line them up and you can take the rat DNA
and the mouse DNA and you line them up and you say, “Same, same, same…
Ah! A difference there. “..same, same, same, same…
A difference there.” And that means that when you say that
two animals like rats and mice have a common ancestor, you can be
totally confident that that’s right because the sheer number
of similarities is so gigantic, far, far more than Darwin
could ever have dreamed of, and Darwin would just have loved
to know about DNA. It’s such a shame that he didn’t
live long enough to learn about DNA. I already believed in evolution, but this has just helped me to
understand a bit more about it. We have talked about it in class
more, but I still do believe in God. But I’m starting to think whether
evolution is true or false. I do believe in evolution but I don’t think it’s ever
going to be 100% accepted because there are many
religious people out there. I thought about it more but I still believe in
what the Bible tells me. When Richard came to our school
today, I started learning about evolution and I’d really love to learn more
about it but I don’t want to, like, leave my religion
and go down that path. I think evolution is the main part
of how the Earth developed, but I’ll still say my prayers
and just keep life going. I only had a few hours
with these children, but I hope it’ll help them
begin to open their eyes to the wonderful reality of life
and, at the very least, ask questions about what they’ve been
brought up to believe. Darwin used to do
a lot of his thinking on solitary walks along this path
around his home, Down House. At the end of Origin Of Species,
he contemplated how an entangled bank along a lane like this, with its teeming life of plants,
birds, worms and insects, had been formed by the unseen laws
acting around us. “There is grandeur
in this view of life. “Whilst this planet
has gone cycling on “according to the fixed law
of gravity, “from so simple a beginning “endless forms most beautiful “and most wonderful “have been, and are being, evolved.” Thanks to Darwin,
we, alone of all species, know that each and every one of us is a thread in the evolved fabric
of life. Darwin showed us that the world is beautiful
and inspiring without a god. He revealed to us the glory of life and opened our eyes
to who we really are and where we’ve come from. In the next programme, Darwinism applied to mankind
and our society, its terrible misuse in attempts
to justify cut-throat competition, even genocide. In the world of the selfish gene,
what hope for the human species?

68 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins – The Genius of Charles Darwin – Part 1: Life, Darwin & Everything [+Subs]

  • Fight the fight, Mr. Dawkins. I am a 26 year old man who was a pastor, and held vehemently for young earth creationism and against evolution. Through the patience, reason, and hard work of men like you, Bill Nye, and Neil Degrasse Tyson, I eventually came to welcome (rather than fear) science, and slowly but surely, came to see the world in a completely different way. It was not easy. But I am glad now to have turned from blind faith to reason.

  • I can only hope that Richard Dawkins also reads this. I would like to invite him to The Bahamas to do some public lectures. I am probably his #1 fan. I do not find contradiction in what Dawkins teaches and the existence of God. I use the term God reservedly, in that, I recognize the many and varied perspective of the term God. However, I find more spirituality in the teachings of Richard Dawkins than I do many religious preachers and their writings. Dawkins has an unreserved respect for truth. I like that most about him. From his writing on his researches, and notwithstanding his proclamation that he don't believe in God, I can grasp the wisdom, magnificence and brilliance of the Creator from what his writing teaches. In his book, 'The God Delusion', I don't find him to be a hard core atheist. He lets you know that he is not entirely atheistic and leaves one small fraction of unit of respect for the Creator; albeit, one may say he is hedging his bet. My prayer life was made better after reading his work. I can see God in the science of his creation much better thanks to the contribution of Richard Dawkins. It is the truth by which Dawkins conduct his research that makes it respectful and one can see clearly the reveling hands of God in the earth's creation. I have been tremendously uplifted by the spirituality found in his work, and even though he might not have set out to do so, it is there. Presently, I am reading his book, 'The Selfish Gene'. a remarkable piece of work. There is no conflict with what Dawkins write and what is written in the scriptures. It is a matter of interpretation. May the LORD God continue to bless Richard Dawkins and his research.

  • If everyone of us is stardust and every thing in the universe stems from stardust, dont you believe that there is one "dna" for the universe? If you belief in evolution, and if everything stems from evolution, is that "one dna" the original form of the universe, it being "god"?

  • I think I should give Richard Dawkins another 130 million dollars, he is so smart.
    Did you know is work as a scientist is actually only one scientific paper… You are not tools, of course you aren't.

  • Natural selection does not produce evolution. In fact, nothing does. There is no known mechanism for evolution and therefore evolution only remains a concept. Natural selection only culls out the mutated misfits, but does not produce genetic novelties. As a consequence, natural selection preserves the status quo. When will big evo-nerds like Duckins stop their lies?

  • Watching him lecture the class of children exposes the real truth. Those kids really do not care about evolution. He thinks they would naturally be as concerned as himself about it. In the end is it the people who care or those that dont end up having a better life? That question is subjective so what the hell.

  • I cannot get enough of Richard Dawkins. He is one of the most brilliant minds of our time. He is seeking truth. Thank you for continuing to teach us Professor Dawkins. What a privilege for those students to learn directly from him.

  • I rather think if evolution theory is existed, then all animals n living creatures are actually going downward evolution.
    Ask yourself, why previous living creatures like trees n dinosaurs were bigger while now became smaller? Becoming smaller to be eaten by others? Why not become bigger to survive better?

  • If there is no God, then im more concern when will be our doom day. If God just ignore, only one medium size asteroid hit the earth n we will be all gone. So how to "evolution" ? I see many asteroids in the past miss the earth, is that a super lucky earth? While moon n Mars hitted repeatedly by mega size asteroids?

  • Evolution proving nothing but a believing faith. A new mystical religion of scientific myths n fairytales. The scientific evidences are just layers of onion ringssss. Which is empty inside. Bigger lies to cover up the smaller lies…

  • episode 2 "Darwin was a liar"

    scientists weren't believe in stability .. DR hooker wasn't encouraged Darwin .. neither Darwin nor could prove the idea of evolution

  • Darwin is a Project of world-leading Freemasons

    Reality is not based on theories. We are here to find out what is already given, not to add speculations – this way means science. Any subjective attempts are based on bad intentions.
    Sent Prophets revealed "reality" and last holy book explains lifes before humans, evolution and all creation.
    If you are prejudiced, you will not seek, but act inbetween your limitedness


    عصری نظریہ ارتقا
    قران کا تصور تخلیق

    بدیع السموات و الارض اذا قضی امرا فانما یقول لہ
    کن فیکون o

    To Him is due
    The primal origin
    Of the heavens and the earth:
    When He decreeth a matter,
    He saith to it:" Be,"
    And it is.

    Robert Corroll, an expert on vertebrate
    paleontology and a committed
    evolutionist, comes to admit that the Darwinist hope has not been satisfied with fossil discoveries.

    " Despite more than a hudred years of intense collecting efforts since the time of Darsin's, the fossil record still does not yield the picturd of infinitely numerous transitional links that he expected . (14)

    Another evolutionary paleontologist, K.S.Thomson, tells us that new groups of organisms appear very abruptly in the fossil record:

    " When a major group of organisms arises and first appears in the record, it seems
    to come fully equipped with a suite of new
    chracters not seen in related, putatively ancestral groups. These radical changes in marphology and fuction appear to raise very quickly. (15)

    The fossil record reveals that species emerged suddenly, and totally different structures, and remained exactly the same
    Over the longest geological periods. Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvardv University paleontologist and well-known evolutionist, admitted this fact in late 70s.

    The history of most fossil species include two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism:

    1) Stasis- most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless.

    2) Sudden appearance – in any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears, all at once and " fully formed ".
    Further research only strengthened the fact of stasis and sudden appearance. Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge write in 1993 that :

    " Most species, during during their geological history, either do not change in any appreciable way, or else they fluctuate mildly in morphology, with no apparent directio". (17)

    The Adequacy of the Fossil Record

    Some 140 years ago Darwin put forward the following argument :

    " Right now there are no transitional forms,
    yet further research will uncover them".

    Is this argument is still valid today? In other words, considering the conclusions from the entire fossil record, should we accept that transitional forms never existedor we should wait for the results of
    new research?

    The wealth of existing fossil records will surely answer this question. When we look at the paleontological findings, we come across an abundance of fossils. Despite this, not a single transitional form has been uncovered, and it is unlikely that any transitional forms will be found as a result of new excavations.

    Niles Eldredgo, the well-known paleontologist and curator of tha American Museum of National History, expresses as follows the invalidity of Darwin's claim that the insufficiency of the fossil record is the reason why no transitional forms have been found:

    The record jumps , and all the evidence shows that the record is real :

    The gaps we see reflects real events in life's history — not the artifact of a poor fossil record. (18)


    14) Robert Carroll, Patterns and Process of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p.25
    15) K.S.Thomson, Morphogenesis and Evolution, Oxford University Press, 1988,
    p. 98
    S.J.Gould, ' Evolution's Erratic Pace", Natural History, vol.86, May 1977.
    16) Ibid
    17) S.G.Gould, and Niles Eldredge, ' Punctuated Equilibbiria: The Tempo and Mode of Evolution Reconsidersd', Paleobiology, 3 (2), 1977, p. 115 .
    18) N.Eldredge and 1. Tattersall, The Myths of Human Evolution, Colubia University Press 1982, p. 59


  • Thanks to the internet revolution which give us an opportunity to listen to this great man describing the work of another great man. These school children are so lucky to spend time with Prof. Richard Dawkins.

  • Is there any evidence of cross species evolution in this documentary? Not just what someone believes.

  • Evolution theory had been proven fail completely. When ultimately fail, main stream science now promoting the "existence of higher being", called "Alien god". Every thing must be against Bible whatever it takes. This is what happening now…

  • If Richard Dawkins wants a real challenge, come to the USA! The students he is interacting with in this series seem "enlightened" compares to the ignorant superstitious knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers we have here in America.

  • I have another word for Charles Darwin. Science Magazine printed a whole article on his famous discovery of Piltdown Man. It's well worth the read. Search it on line, it's very well known in the science community.
    Fun fact, Darwin was far from genius. Daddy was rich, Charles hobby was digging for fossils, sadly he was a failing attorney in the UK by profession, not a scientist. Not a genius, just an embarrassed desperate man hungry for recognition to make daddy proud who supported him financially and paid for his journey. What is the hidden purpose of pushing Darwin on people in school and through Hollywood movies?
    There are many legitimate respected scientist that schools are prohibited to mention or answer questions about. What is really going on?????????

  • The old goat still pushing the greatest hoax theory ever to strut the halls of academia. He refuses to see that all he has are expert descriptions of
    The same kind. Everything he see through the clouded glaucoma filled lens of his atheism . I agree that we should teach Darwinian evolution at each step of the way only to clearly see the emperor getting undressed. Just like some of the dogmatic statements from the students – the self deluded Dawkins is trapped in his own bubble. This is proof that not everything scientists say are scientific. – it is so lavishly laced with their own self delusion – it’s not funny. That’s right Dawkins – we were once all fish with our little guppy lips . This man should be literally thrown out of the Biology classroom into the nearest garbage bin – tarred and feathered with a clown nose as an emblem of his accomplishments . A true modern day jackass.

  • two things for you atheist fundamentalists: first, darwin was NOT an atheist. he was a theist and believed in God. atheism is a modern aberration. not natural or normal at all. second, darwin always said his theory was only a THEORY, not a fact. you guys forget that in your zeal. modern academia is wrong. watch kent hovind's debates on youtube. he destroys all evolutionists, including dawkins, who is afraid to debate him.

  • Man i am so jealous of those children let alone getting to be around Mr. Dawkins but also to have a class from him on the damn galapagos islands!

  • „… that 4 of 10 brits believe the god created the world“. I agree this is a nonsense in any logical way… but then someone had to create the properties, someone had to „design“ at least the rules to creating even a simplest lifeform. I don’t believe in christian- or any other theological theory, but some „force“ behind simply has to exist. There are theories of parallel universes or multiverse, or even simulated world… it just has to be some kind of „curtain“ that hides the bigger system. That is what i believe in.

  • I see a lot of comments trying to discredit Darwin and Dawkins (not counting the religious arguments) I haven’t seen a single explanation as to what “replaces” evolution and natural selection. I’ve read all 143 comments and the replies (yes I’m aware of how much of a no life I must sound like but it’s midnight and I listen to Dawkins to calm me before bed) and not a single proposition as to what could replace the theories. So, I ask ever so kindly, for anyone who says evolution and natural selection are bullshit please enlighten me as to why you think that, what evidence you have to support it, and what is your explanation for the way life has continued to function and change in the way it has.

  • Evolution is an undisputed fact of life on Earth, but even evolution doesn't explain humanity.

    The problem we face currently is that natural history scientists' collective arrogance has rendered them as narrow minded as the clergy during the Middle Ages. They dismiss any, and all, alternate theories as pure hogwash, inevitably falling back on the old standby, "We've not seen the evidence for it". True. We haven't the evidence for it. But we also haven't unearthed the evidence that reveals that humanity is strictly a byproduct of primate evolution either, yet they have no problem postulating it as undeniable with their trademark repulsive condescension.

    Evolution holds up well with every living thing that's ever existed on Earth in the past 2 billion years except for one species: human beings. From the moment Watson & Crick discovered DNA and it's trademark double helix structure in the 1950s, up to the much more recent, and advanced, Human Genome Project completed in 2014, the only undeniable evidence that's ever been uncovered is that humanity couldn't have possibly made such extraordinary leaps in evolution in such a short amount of time. Watson and Crick famously assessed the findings by saying, "It would be easier for a tornado to construct a fully functional 747 jet airplane by passing over a junkyard than it would've been for ancient primates to evolve into human beings, in what is equivalent to a blink of the eye in geological time."

    So what do I think explains humanity's existence? I genuinely do not know. I just wish the so called "experts" would drop all the arrogance and condescension and admit the same thing.

  • My second hero after Charles Darwin is Richard Dawkins. Thank you for all you do Professor to teach reason and science! We need more teachers like you who have the intellect and courage to challenge the mythology of religion before the human race devolves or destroys itself.

  • I found out that there hiding PI/Fibonacci/Golden ratio…. Stands for 6 day work and one day rest 6.1 1.6 7
    From the Egyptian till now its even in the house adres of the White House 
    You can follow in a timeline where this was used in architecture… to make themselfs as gods
    They use this in everything from creditcards ect
    I was reschearching the water found on earth 70% as the human body
    And the moon doesnt have this how could it be that by chance and interval the water came here
    You’ll see that by rescheaching this that it isn’t by chance or interval 
    Creation is a fact…. 
    And I need smart people to help reschearch this.. if evolution was true bird man and all superhero, s would be fact!

  • 1But understand this: In the last days terrible times will come. 2For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, 4traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Turn away from such as these!
    2 Timothy 3:5

  • This guy is to smart for his own good. In fact paradoxically he's made a fool of himself for years by his ignorance.

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