What if someone told you that everything is orchestrated? Beginning from the choice of partner, living area, food, drinks and everything around it. What if all of that is not necessarily under your control, neither under control of some higher power, but a unit of replication-a selfish gene?
That theory, developed by professor Richard Dawkins in 1976, along his book ‘the Selfish Gene’, is a one big criticism of creationism and a strong promotion of atheism. It is a very gene-centred view of evolution, where the life of every living organism is influenced by a special unit-a meme. A meme is a unit of idea or behavior, present in our minds, that can reproduce itself, hence transfer itself from an individual to individual. Everything we do is designed accordingly to the meme’s liking. When one person influences the other, he transfers an idea and replicates it. Memes influence our whole behavior and culture and can reproduce themselves at the expense of the organism.
Dawkins criticizes the belief in a supernatural creator, stating that there is no possible way of His existence and that any religion is ‘narrow and embarrassing’. Moreover, in Dawkins’ theory, the importance of human beings is diminished. The most interesting aspect, and also probably the most scary one, is the way in which the author explains altruism. That motiveless behavior is explained as just another special circumstances the gene is exploiting to find the best way for its objectives. By helping others, the gene is just helping itself and and finds new ways of replicating itself. In short, selfish actions lead to unselfish actions.
Dawkin’s theory takes a lot of time to process. It certainly is a blow to our understanding of life and human evolution and can turn one’s thinking upside down. Nevertheless, ‘the Selfish Gene’ is definitely an interesting read, not only for the science enthusiasts.