- (Photo: Facebook/The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science)
Famous atheist author Richard Dawkins has been named the world's top thinker in a global vote that counted 10,000 voices from over 100 countries.
"When Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, coined the term 'meme' in The Selfish Gene 37 years ago, he can't have anticipated its current popularity as a word to describe internet fads," said Prospect Magazine, which conducted the poll, in explaining the biologist professor's popularity.
"But this is only one of the ways in which he thrives as an intellectual in the internet age. He is also prolific on Twitter, with more than half a million followers – and his success in this poll attests to his popularity online. He uses this platform to attack his old foe, religion, and to promote science and rationalism."
The author of The God Delusion is one of the leaders of the New Atheist movement, and has based his career on trying to show how life and the universe can be explained entirely by secular science, rejecting all supernatural explanations.
Not all would agree with the results of the poll, however. Dawkins has received criticism on his active Twitter account for some comments he has made, such as his reasoning that unborn children are "less human" than pigs.
Dawkins also lost a notable debate earlier this year against former Anglican head Rowan Williams at Cambridge University in England on the topic of religion's place in society.
The atheist author and his team attempted to argue that religion has no place in the 21st Century, while Williams and his team argued the opposite. In front of an audience of over 800 people, Dawkins lost the debate by 324 to 136 votes.
"Religion has always been a matter of community building, a matter of building relations of compassion, fellow-feeling and, dare I say it, inclusion," the retired archbishop said. "The notion that religious commitment can be purely a private matter is one that runs against the grain of religious history."
The top 10 names in Prospect Magazine's list are all male and include professors, politicians, scientists and economists. Afghanistan politician and former presidential candidate Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a Muslim, took second place. Experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, who is also an atheist, took third place, while Shia Muslim Iraqi politician Ali Allawi took fourth. American economist Paul Krugman, who served under President Ronald Reagan, rounded up the top five.
A full list of the top 66 thinkers as chosen by the voters is available on the Prospect website.