Winston Fletcher, quoting from The Marketplace of Christianity in his review of the same (Books, February 23), says: "No urge... is more fundamental than the desire to explain existence." This is "codswallop", Fletcher says. He continues: "The selfish gene's primal urges are the survival of the self and the... species."
I am not sure that explaining existence is the most fundamental urge we have as Homo sapiens, but certainly every culture known to us has a cosmology.
Modern times are fragmented into subcultures, and the fundamentalist atheist subculture of Richard Dawkins and his followers is one of the most ardent in its attempts to explain existence.
Fletcher has fallen into a trap that the biologist himself admits to have dug: the term "selfish gene", Dawkins has said, was a provocative metaphor meant to shock people out of their complacent assumptions about free will.
But Fletcher takes the metaphor literally: he implies that genes really have selves that experience conscious urges, equating the way humans experience conscious urges, desires and so on, with whatever it is that pushes cellular biological matter into action.
Balderdash, Fletcher, balderdash.
Register to continue
Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.
Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:
- Sign up for the editor's highlights
- Receive World University Rankings news first
- Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
- Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Or subscribe for unlimited access to:
- Unlimited access to news, views, insights & reviews
- Digital editions
- Digital access to THE’s university and college rankings analysis
Already registered or a current subscriber? Sign in now