selfish gene

Posted by david marsh on Sat 15 March 2008

Today I've just bought a copy of The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. I'm looking forward to reading this, I've read so much about it and couldn't find it in a bookstore anywhere. Eventually found it in a Borders in the new Rouse Hill shopping centre.

Selfish Gene Cover

I can't believe the size of the Borders there, it's huge! I wandered around in it for a while and then realised there's a second floor that's even bigger. I think I'll visit it often. Most bookstores near where I live are small and don't have well stocked special interest sections (eg Pop-sci), sometimes only a shelf or two of the most popular or recently published books. The new Borders has whole rows dedicated to individual special interest topics, it's great. I'll get my nerd freak on in there for sure :)

Anyway, The Selfish Gene should be good, I'm expecting a good read from it. Even Douglas Adams was a inspired by it, judging from his interview with The American Atheist done in 1998:

So I became an Agnostic. And I thought and thought and thought. But I just did not have enough to go on, so I didn't really come to any resolution. I was extremely doubtful about the idea of god, but I just didn't know enough about anything to have a good working model of any other explanation for, well, life, the universe and everything to put in its place. But I kept at it, and I kept reading and I kept thinking.

Sometime around my early thirties I stumbled upon evolutionary biology, particularly in the form of Richard Dawkins's books The Selfish Gene and then The Blind Watchmaker and suddenly (on, I think the second reading of The Selfish Gene) it all fell into place. It was a concept of such stunning simplicity, but it gave rise, naturally, to all of the infinite and baffling complexity of life. The awe it inspired in me made the awe that people talk about in respect of religious experience seem, frankly, silly beside it. I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.

After The Selfish Gene it'll be onto something by Daniel C Dennett, most probably Breaking the Spell.

tags: books, science