Bill Gates Recommends a Richard Dawkins Book on His Summer Reading List Despite Dawkins' 'Overzealous, Antagonistic' View of Religion


Microsoft founder Bill Gates attends a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in this file photo from January 24, 2014.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates attends a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in this file photo from January 24, 2014. | (Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse/Files)

Billionaire Bill Gates has shared his summer book reading list, among which is included The Magic of Reality by atheist author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Gates called Dawkins "one of the great scientific writers" of all time, despite what he said is his "overzealous" and "antagonistic" view of religion.

When recommending The Magic of Reality, Gates wrote: "It's an engaging, well-illustrated science textbook offering compelling answers to big questions, like 'how did the universe form?' and 'what causes earthquakes?' It's also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity."

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He added: "Dawkins's antagonistic (and, to me, overzealous) view of religion has earned him a lot of angry critics, but I consider him to be one of the great scientific writer/explainers of all time."

The six other books on Gates' list include Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh, What If?, and XKCD by Randall Munroe, On Immunity, by Eula Biss, How to Lie With Statistics, by Darrell Huff, and Should We Eat Meat?, by Vaclav Smil.

Dawkins is famous both for his scientific work, and for his writings promoting atheism and dismissing the idea of God, such as his 2006 best-seller The God Delusion.

The evolutionary biologist is outspoken on a number of social issues, including education and viewpoints that challenge evolution. Last week, he admitted on Twitter that although in general he doesn't "despise individuals" and only their views, Young-Earth Creationists pass his "limits" on the issue.

Dawkins has criticized several times the teaching of Creationism, or a literal interpretation of the Genesis story in the Bible.

Back in March 2014, Gates revealed that his family goes to a Roman Catholic church, and said that a great deal of his charity work is inspired by religious morality.

"The moral systems of religion, I think, are super important. We've raised our kids in a religious way; they've gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in. I've been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that's kind of a religious belief. I mean, it's at least a moral belief," Gates said in an interview back then.

When asked if he believed in God, he responded, "I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don't know."

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