Tag Archives: Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

[M]aximization of DNA survival is not a recipe for happiness. So long as DNA is passed on, it does not matter who or what gets hurt in the process. Genes don’t care about suffering, because they don’t care about anything.

Richard Dawkins, ‘God’s Utility Function’, Scientific American, vol. 274, no. 6 (November, 1995), p. 85

Steven Landsburg

Richard Dawkins (one of my very favourite writes) has written an entire book called The God Delusion to refute the claims of religion. His arguments strike me as quite unnecessary, because nobody believes those claims anyway. (Do we need a book called The Santa Claus Delusion?) Indeed, Dawkins undercuts his own position when he points to statistics showing that, at least on a state-by-state basis, there is no correlation between religiosity and crime. His point is that religion does not make people better; but he misses the larger point that if religion doesn’t make people better, then most people must not be terribly religious.

Steven Landsburg, The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics, New York, 2009 , p. 58

Richard Dawkins

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

Richard Dawkins, ‘God’s Utility Function’, Scientific American, vol. 273, no. 5 (November, 1995), p. 85