The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation is to promote scientific literacy and a secular worldview. Some might see this as two distinct missions: 1) Teaching the value of science, and 2) Advancing secularism.
Yes, those are my foundation’s goals. You will not be surprised to learn that my personal priority is science as one of the highest and most aesthetically rewarding achievements of the human spirit.
But permit me to trace the connection between science and the other preoccupation of my foundation, the advancement of secularism. I see those goals as interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
You are well familiar with the existential challenges of global climate change and unsustainable population growth facing mankind and the planet. Of all the forces opposing an evidence-based response, religion is the most active — and it is especially strong in America.
Religious extremism not only interferes with the advance of science but with personal freedoms and human dignity, and not only in places where jihadists hold sway but in America as well, in areas such as access to contraception, LGBTQ rights and women’s equality.
Critical thinking is the real saviour of humankind. My foundation promotes respect for people who hold critical thinking as a cherished personal value and use it in day-to-day life.
The logical counter to religious extremism is people who rely on evidence to make decisions. Yet the voice of secular people is maligned in this country. Forty-five percent of Americans think you have to believe in God to be moral. Secular voices are considered immoral. They are not listened to on that basis.
We must counter this baseless hostility to allow the contributions of secular people in vital national debates to count. Making secular views and people welcome in politics and policy-making will advance human safety, security, health, achievement, prosperity and most of all, science.
Please accept my personal thanks for your interest in the foundation. If you agree with our mission, please consider becoming one of us. If you are already a member and supporter, thank you for standing with me.
My greatest hope is that together we can change society for the better.
Founded in 2006 by Richard Dawkins, the foundation’s mission is to realize Richard’s vision to remove the influence of religion in science education and public policy, and eliminate the stigma that surrounds atheism and non-belief.
Our Focus and Values
We believe people should be free to be open about non-belief without risking their job, business, personal and family relationships or standing in the community.
The foundation focuses on two alarming statistics, both of which have serious implication for America’s ability to innovate and compete in the 21st century:
1) Forty-six percent of Americans tell pollsters human beings arrived on this earth in their present form within the last 10,000 years. (Gallup, 2012)
2) Fifty-three percent of Americans say they are unlikely to vote for a politician who is an atheist on that basis alone — a percentage that far exceeds the number of Americans who say they won’t vote for a gay politician or a even an adulterer. (Pew Research Center, 2014)
Think about it. A huge percentage of Americans reject what we know about human evolution. And more than half of Americans say they are less likely to vote for a candidate simply due to the fact they subscribe to an evidence-based view of the natural world. Meanwhile, politicians who say the earth is fewer than 10,000 years old routinely win election.
The Richard Dawkins Foundation sees its job as nothing less than changing America’s future.
Why Our Work Matters
These facts have real-life consequences. They lead to political attacks on science’s understanding of climate change that prevent us from acting to avert disaster. They interfere with stem cell research, setting back medical advancements. They hamper the ability of health teachers to provide young people with comprehensive sex education, leading to more unwanted pregnancies. And still, to this day, they lead to attacks on biology teachers who teach evolution in our schools.
America will lose its standing in the world if this does not change.
RDFRS is heading Openly Secular, a highly sophisticated effort to get non-believers to come forward and be true to who they are.
Openly Secular formally launched in Sept. 2014. Its purpose is to make non-believers feel they are not alone and assist them in becoming comfortable declaring their non-belief. In turn, this exposes religious people to non-believing neighbors, friends, co-workers and loved ones.
The hope is that once everyone knows someone who is openly secular, societal bias will fade and eventually disappear.
The campaign, in partnership with a number of other secular groups, consists of many interlocking parts:
- We’re making the case by collecting and vetting stories of discrimination and alienation against non-believers, to demonstrate that this is a serious issue with implications for social equality.
- A special website and social media presence has been created to bring the online community into the campaign and multiply the reach of messaging and communications.
- There is a nationwide push for strategic video development, featuring non-believers in public safety positions such as firefighters, EMTs, military personnel, and in the caring professions, such as doctors and nurses, who will speak out about their secularism.
- We have celebrity videos featuring actors, musicians, politicians, and sports figures as open atheists, to help show non-believers are everywhere.
Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science
The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) will give middle school teachers the tools they need to effectively teach evolution and answer its critics. Led by Director of TIES Bertha Vazquez, the Foundation has developed a variety of free resources to middle school teachers as well as full-day workshops based on the new Next Generation Science Standards. The inaugural workshop took place April 3, 2015, at the Frost Museum of Science in Miami, FL. For more information about TIES or to get involved, click here.
With more than one million “Likes” on Facebook, the foundation is a social media powerhouse. Pair this with Richard Dawkins’ more than one million personal Twitter followers and the foundation is able to communicate to a huge audience around the world.
Changing the Culture:
The foundation is looking to create and produce live theater, cable television and other entertainment products for general audiences that support secularism and fight scientific illiteracy.
RDFRS as a Launchpad for Secular Innovation:
The Clergy Project was created by the foundation as a confidential online community for active and former clergy who no longer hold supernatural beliefs. It is a “safe house” where members can anonymously and freely discuss the challenges they face in leaving ministry and establishing a new life.
Non-Believers Giving Aid was established by the foundation to raise money from secular communities for disaster relief across the globe. This fund raised and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief agencies worldwide.
The Secret Science Club, a wildly popular and free science-themed lecture and arts series, received its first infusion of funds from a grant secured by the foundation.