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The Genius of Charles Darwin

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Richard Dawkins presents the ultimate three-part guide to Charles Darwin and his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species

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Richard Dawkins presents the ultimate three-part guide to Charles Darwin and his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species

Series 1 Summary

Richard Dawkins presents the ultimate three-part guide to Charles Darwin and his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species.

Dawkins explains who Charles Darwin was, how he developed his theory, what it is, and why it matters.

He reveals how Darwin changed forever the way we see ourselves, the world and our place in it, and hopes to convince us that 'evolution is a fact, backed by undeniable evidence'.

  • Richard Dawkins and schoolchildren

    Episode 1

    In the first part of this series, Richard Dawkins retraces Darwin's journey as a scientist, from the UK via Africa, to America.

    He re-examines the rich evidence of the natural world which opened Darwin's eyes to the extraordinary truth that all living things must be related and had evolved from a common ancestor.

    Darwin knew his espousal of evolution would cause outrage, challenging, as it did, the prevailing religious view of the world and our place in it.

    As Dawkins explains, it was really his theory of natural selection that undermined the notion of a benevolent God who designed all creatures great and small.

    Back in Britain, Dawkins tries to convince a year 11 science class that evolution is the truth but confesses that 'a few hours in the science lab is no substitute for a lifetime of religious indoctrination'.

  • Richard Dawkins

    Episode 2

    In the second programme Dawkins explains that Darwin's Theory of Evolution presented a disturbing truth: that humans are animals, asking 'what does it mean to be evolved'?

    Although natural selection is the driving force of our evolution Dawkins clarifies that this does not mean that society should be run on Darwinian lines. 'As a scientist I'm thrilled by natural selection, but as a human being I abhor it as a principle for organising society.'

    Starting out in Africa, he speaks to palaeontologist Richard Leakey and travels to Nairobi where he meets prostitutes who seem to have acquired a genetic immunity to the HIV virus.

    Dawkins also investigates the world of the entrepreneurial businessman and social Darwinism, examining whether there are parallels to be drawn between economic and biological systems.

    Finally, in examining both the 'caring' behaviours of human beings and animals, he examines how the moral code of human beings, and their displays of sensitivity and altruism, can be reconciled with the idea of the survival of the fittest.

  • Richard Dawkins

    Episode 3

    In this final episode Dawkins examines why Darwin's theory remains one of the most controversial ideas in history.

    As Darwin set out on the voyage on the Beagle he still believed that god created the world and everything in it. But the evidence he discovered demonstrated the truth: that all life forms vary and that some are more likely to reproduce, passing variations on.

    Today, Dawkins argues, science has the evidence to prove that evolution is true.

    Modern discovery of the DNA code has added to the mountain of evidence showing that evolution is a fact. So why, Dawkins wonders as he meets creationists in America, is opposition to evolution more aggressive than ever?

    Returning to the school he visited in episode one, Dawkins confronts the science teachers and challenges their view that they 'can't get in to the business of knocking down kid's religions and the religions of families'.

    Finally, Dawkins travels to meet an old friend, Dan Dennett, who shares many of his own beliefs, to answer the question Darwin himself was confronted with: how can we find solace in a godless world?

The Genius of Charles Darwin synopsis

Richard Dawkins presents the ultimate three-part guide to Charles Darwin and his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species

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