"Dynamic look at the life, work, and legacy of Charles Darwin" --The Sunday Times (U.K.)
Published 150 years ago, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species changed everything--science, religion, and even humanity’s image of itself. Join Professor Richard Dawkins as he explains exactly how Darwin developed his revolutionary theory of evolution and why it’s still relevant today.
How do species evolve? What does "natural selection" mean in biology, politics, sociology, and philosophy? With passionate certainty, Dawkins provides answers, positing evolution as a matter of fact, not faith. In addition to interviewing scientific experts such as geneticist Craig Venter and paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, Dawkins speaks with Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and other religious leaders about the existence of a Creator. Provocative, informative, and irresistibly watchable, this award-winning documentary offers lively new insights on an idea that still meets stubborn resistance.
Evolutionary biologist and fellow of the Royal Society, Richard Dawkins has served as professor of public understanding of science at Oxford University. He has written dozens of scholarly and popular works, including the controversial best seller The God Delusion.
Winner, Best Documentary Series (British Broadcast Awards, 2009)
We are not even 20 seconds into The Genius of Charles Darwin before the English biologist Richard Dawkins proclaims that Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is "perhaps the most powerful idea ever to occur to a human mind." Dawkins obviously believes that evolution is no longer just a theory but a fact. Yet even as what he calls "undeniable evidence" to bolster that argument keeps mounting, so does the opposition to it, especially among Christian conservatives. Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and an avowed atheist, finds that paradox confounding and more than a little annoying, and while the three episodes (each about 45 minutes long) in this program offer plenty of history, information, and science, ultimately it is this battle between fact and faith that leaves the most lasting impression. In the first episode, "Life, Darwin & Everything," Dawkins offers biographical details about Darwin. The naturalist was himself deeply conflicted; extensive research during his long voyage aboard the Beagle convinced him that the creationist teachings of his youth were inaccurate, yet he delayed publication of his masterwork, On the Origin of Species, for fear of alienating the British establishment. In episode 2, Dawkins discusses the human element, concluding that it is our morality (leading to emotions like sympathy and gratitude) and sense of altruism that set us apart from the "mindless brutality" that defines survival of the fittest in the rest of the natural world. Finally, in episode 3, "God Strikes Back," he takes on the doubters, claiming that there is as much hard evidence (like extensive fossil records and DNA research) to support Darwin as there is to uphold the facts that the Earth is round or that Napoleon existed. Dawkins is hardly objective, calling those who deny evolution "pathetic," but he does give them their say, including the president of a group called "Concerned Women for America" (whose condescension even outdoes Dawkins's) and another "expert" who says simply, "You can't see [evolution], so it's not science."