The dissent of Darwin
When zoologist Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene was published 20 years ago, it practically snuffed out many readers' belief in God and in their own importance, for it described in stunning and terrifying detail a world where all life was merely the conveyor belt for the gene. Its mission: to replicate itself. DNA was the fundamental and irreducible unit of life that spun itself endlessly into the incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Everything we hold most dear--acts of love, altruism, the painterly beauty of the peacock's tail, the birth of a newborn--could, according to Dawkins, be explained by the gene's attempt to survive, and to hitch a ride on the fittest organism possible, the one most likely to mate and reproduce. Darwinian natural selection was Dawkins' ruling theme. The gene looked like the most purely selfish entity one could imagine, but it was more like the Terminator--just programmed to survive.
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