In his first book, 1976’s The Selfish Gene, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” for cultural ideas that spread and mutate like genes. Thirty years later he published The God Delusion, a persuasive polemic for atheism that conferred on him the status of public intellectual. By then the term “meme” had itself become a meme, applied to a variety of viral Internet phenomena. More recently, Dawkins has taken up the viral phenomenon known as Twitter. His acerbic tweets about Islam and political correctness have generated a steady stream of outrage — not just from ideological opponents but from atheist confreres embarrassed by, for example, his flip comparison of the Koran to Mein Kampf. (“Not In Our Name,” ran the headline of a column inThe Independent by Owen Jones, who accused him of “dressing up bigotry as non-belief.”) It’s all coming to a head just as Dawkins launches the U.S. tour of his new book. The first volume of a two-part memoir, An Appetite for Wonder takes us from his childhood in Kenya to boarding school (and a touch of pedophilia that’s sparked further outrage), on to Oxford and The Selfish Gene. Dawkins spoke to us, reluctantly, about subjects other than his new book — like the question of whether he’s his own worst enemy.
Written By: Boris Kachkacontinue to source article at nymag.com