George Eaton in New Statesman:
In the digital age, reputations made over decades can be lost in minutes. Richard Dawkins first achieved renown as a pioneering evolutionary biologist (through his 1976 bestseller, The Selfish Gene) and, later, as a polemical foe of religion (through 2006’s The God Delusion). Yet he is now increasingly defined by his incendiary tweets, which have been plausibly denounced as Islamophobic.
“Listening to the lovely bells of Winchester, one of our great medieval cathedrals,” he wrote to his 2.8 million Twitter followers last July. “So much nicer than the aggressive-sounding ‘Allahu akhbar.’ Or is that just my cultural upbringing?” How, I have sometimes wondered, does the former Oxford University professor for the public understanding of science feel about his new reputation?
One recent afternoon I met Dawkins, who is 77, at the spacious apartment he shares with his girlfriend (he is twice-divorced) in central Oxford. He proudly showed me his meticulously catalogued library (including a “controversy” section). The occasion for our meeting was the publication of The Four Horsemen: The Conversation that Sparked an Atheist Revolution, a transcript of the 2007 discussion between Dawkins and three fellow atheists: the late Christopher Hitchens (with whom Dawkins conducted the final interview in the New Statesman in 2011), Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.