Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts which simply do not make evolutionary sense.— Richard Dawkins
Astonishing Selfish Gene quotations
Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.
Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.
We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.
Leaders who forbid their followers to use effective contraceptive methods express a preference for "natural" methods of population limitation, and a natural method is exactly what they are going to get. It is called starvation.
Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven.
Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
Mutation is random; natural selection is the very opposite of random.
I am not advocating a morality based on evolution.
Just as blueprints don't necessarily specify blue buildings, selfish genes don't necessarily specify selfish organisms. As we shall see, sometimes the most selfish thing a gene can do is build a selfless brain. Genes are a play within a play, not the interior monologue of the players.
People who criticize The Selfish Gene like that often haven't read it.
The selfish gene accounts for altruism toward kin and individuals who might be in a position to reciprocate your altruism.
A gene might be able to assist replicas of itself that are sitting in other bodies. If so, this would appear as individual altruism but it would be brought about by gene selfishness.
They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.
Any altruistic system is inherently unstable, because it is open to abuse by selfish individuals, ready to exploit it.
I've always been antagonistic to any naïve application of the selfish gene theory to politics. Some people have attempted to suggest that it means we are selfish or we should be selfish.
Science is a victim of its own reductive metaphors: 'Big Bang,' 'selfish gene' and so on. Richard Dawkins' selfish gene fitted with the Thatcherite politics of the time. It should actually be the 'altruistic gene,' but he'd never have sold as many books with a title like that.
Human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution.
Nature, red in tooth and claw.
You can make some inferences about a man's character if you know something about the conditions in which he has survived and prospered.
When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.
Of course we're all programmed genetically to some extent.
But the "selfish gene" thesis doesn't explain everything.
What you cannot have is a gene that sacrifices itself for the benefit of other genes. What you can have is a gene that makes organisms sacrifice themselves for other organisms under the influence of selfish genes.
I think we all have a selfish gene which rises to the top, sometimes.
But then we're also all capable of a sudden magnanimity.
I have no explanation for complex biological design.
All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.
Selfish-gene theory tells us nothing about the value of interacting through language.
We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.
Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene is a classic example of science fiction.
Whenever conditions arise in which a new kind of replicator can make copies of itself, the new replicators will tend to take over, and start a new kind of evolution of their own. Once this new evolution begins, it will in no necessary sense be subservient to the old.
If the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies .
.. are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention ... The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.
Our minds have been built by selfish genes, but they have been built to be social, trustworthy and cooperative.
We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.
I am an enthusiastic Darwinian, but I think Darwinism is too big a theory to be confined to the narrow context of the gene.