06 May 2011
The Richard Dawkins Award is a recognition award that has been awarded by AAI to a prominent individual annually since 2003. The award is named after Richard Dawkins, a prominent British atheist. The official award criteria state that:
The Richard Dawkins Award will be given every year to honor an outstanding atheist whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance; who through writings, media, the arts, film, and/or the stage advocates increased scientific knowledge; who through work or by example teaches acceptance of the nontheist philosophy; and whose public posture mirrors the uncompromising nontheist life stance of Dr. Richard Dawkins.
Nominees are not solicited from the general public. Nominees are selected and chosen by an AAI committee that forwards their recommendation to the AAI president and to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) for approval. The award is usually given at an AAI conference in the latter half of each year, with the recipient present to receive the award.
Every year's award is unique, made from a fossil selected by the committee and mounted on a base with the recipient's name and year of award inscribed on the base. The use of a fossil acknowledges the natural basis of our humanity and exemplifies the values of reason, empiricism and naturalism that make up the foundations of the atheist worldview.
Recipients of the award do not necessarily conform to any delineated set of beliefs or values, and occasionally hold controversial views that some in the atheist community would disagree. Because our knowledge of the universe is incomplete and constantly evolving, the nontheist community is not monolithic in its values, judgements, and beliefs, nor would the community ever agree to any proposal of a single set of doctrines to define its worldview. The awarding of the Richard Dawkins Award is made not because the recipient has conformed to any such proposed list, but because the individual has made what is judged by the AAI committee to be a singularly novel and significant contribution to raising public awareness of the nontheist life stance.