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Richard Dawkins Launches "dual-citizenship" Foundation for Science and Reason

One of the most prestigious members of the Secular Student Alliance's advisory Board is Richard Dawkins. Dawkins has just launched the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDF for short). It is a foundation, established both in the United States and Britain, to advance the cause of science, reason and secularism. On the foundation's web site Dawkins explains how the foundation will work and what its chief goals will be.

It's very much worth watching the video by Dawkins, but the goals are:

Reproduced from http://richarddawkins.net/mainPage.php?bodyPage=ourMission.php:

1. Research. We intend to sponsor research into the psychological basis of unreason. What is it about human psychology that predisposes people to find astrology more appealing than astronomy? At what age are young people most vulnerable to unreason? What are the correlations between religiosity and superstition on the one hand, and intelligence, educational level, type of education etc on the other? Research of this kind would be supported in the form of grants to universities in America and Britain or wherever the best research can be done.

2. Education. Within the limits on political activity imposed by the charity laws of the respective countries, we would seek to support rational and scientific education at all ages, and to oppose the subversion of scientific education, for example by the well-financed efforts to teach creationism in science classes. Depending on how much money we raise, we would hope to subsidize the publication of books, pamphlets, DVDs and other educational materials.

3. Website. We shall maintain a high quality website (RichardDawkins.net), offering scientific, rationalist and humanist information and materials. This document is on that website, which is designed and maintained by Josh Timonen, a highly talented and expert web site designer (see Upper Branch Design). Please explore the website to see the range of stuff that is already there. And please volunteer suggestions and contributions to web.master@rdfrs.org.

4. Database of lecturers. We intend to keep a list, organized by regions in both America and Britain, of people, in universities and elsewhere, who might be willing to receive invitations to lecture. I receive a large number of such invittions myself. I accept as many as I can, but I can't accept all of them. It would be extremely helpful to have, at my disposal, a list of younger people who might be less well known at this stage of their career, but who would probably give a much better lecture than I ever could. The database would be arranged on a region by region basis so that travel times to lecturing venues can be minimized.

5. Merchandise. Within the legal limits imposed on non-profit organizations in the two countries, we intend to supply, either free or at nominal prices, DVDs, tapes, podcasts, booklets etc. These will initially include such of my own television documentaties etc as I am allowed to provide. For example, I am negotiating to acquire the rights to my 1991 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Children, entitled Growing Up in the Universe and originally broadcast by the BBC.

6. Publication. My own books are published by commercial publishers in Britain and America, but there are many excellent books on rationalism, humanism, secularism and atheism that are published only in one country. RDFRS, with its 'dual nationality', is well placed to arrange the publication of American books (videos, DVDs etc) in Britain, and vice versa. At some time in the future, we might embark on some original publishing of our own.

7. Charitable giving by secularists to humanitarian good causes. Major disasters like earthquakes or tornados prompt a desire by decent people of all persuasions to help. I, for one, am always anxious that my money should go to help the disaster victims but should not fall into the hands of missionaries or other church-based organizations. Even if these organizations do eventually pass it on to the victims, they often do so with strings attached. Some of us are keen that no proportion of our donations should fall into the hands of missionaries. RDFRS will hope to maintain a list of charities, worldwide, which are certified free of missionary or church contamination.

8. Consciousness-raising. Feminists and homosexuals have taught us the value of consciousness-raising. A phrase like "One man one vote" either causes you to flinch, or is uttered with intent to make you flinch. It is nowadays almost impossible to hear the phrase with its original innocent meaning of "One adult person one vote." Some atheists and freethinkers try to raise consciousness about, for example, the phrase 'under God' in the US Pledge of Allegiance. I am more interested in raising consciousness about something else: the habit, practised not only by religious people, of labelling children by the religion of their parents. This is a Catholic child. That is a Muslim child. I want everybody to flinch when they hear such a phrase, just as they would if they heard, That is a Marxist child. It is immoral to brand young children with the religion of their parents. At present, hardly anybody's consciousness is raised to this. I would welcome suggestions, perhaps from those with experience of the feminist and gay campaigns, for the most effective ways to raise consciousness. I would like such consciousness-raising to be a particular project of this foundation.

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