The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition—with a new Introduction by the AuthorInheriting the mantle of revolutionary biologist from Darwin, Watson, and Crick, Richard Dawkins forced an enormous change in the way we see ourselves and the world with the publication of The Selfish Gene. Suppose, instead of thinking about organisms using genes to reproduce themselves, as we...

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Title:The Selfish Gene
Author:Richard Dawkins
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Edition Language:English

The Selfish Gene Reviews

  • David

    I read the 30th anniversary edition of this book--it is a true "classic". I note that there are over 48,000 ratings and 1,400 reviews of this book on Goodreads! Richard Dawkins put an entirely original slant on Darwin's theory of natural selection. The book has turned people around, to the understanding that the gene plays the single most central role in natural selection, rather than the individual organism. Over the course of generations, evolution plays a role to ensure the survival of the ge

    I read the 30th anniversary edition of this book--it is a true "classic". I note that there are over 48,000 ratings and 1,400 reviews of this book on Goodreads! Richard Dawkins put an entirely original slant on Darwin's theory of natural selection. The book has turned people around, to the understanding that the gene plays the single most central role in natural selection, rather than the individual organism. Over the course of generations, evolution plays a role to ensure the survival of the genes, not the individual or "the species".

    Although the book is 30 years old, it has stood the test of time. There are a few passages--primarily about computers--that are 30 years out of date. But the vast majority of the book seems to have held up quite well.

    Dawkins' prose is very approachable by the layman. There is a bare minimum of technical jargon--quite different from most other books about genetics that I've been reading in recent years. Dawkins takes the time to explain things, often with appropriate metaphors. There are very few diagrams in the book--additional figures could help clarify some points, in my opinion.

    Much of the book is really about the role of game theory, in understanding genetics. Dawkins devotes several chapters to describe how various traits controlled by genes are held in an ESS-- "Evolutionarily Stable Strategy"--a term that Dawkins uses quite often, that I think is a synonym for the game theory term "stable equilibrium". Dawkins shows how an ESS is approached over the course of "iterations" of a game, that is to same, over many generations. These chapters were especially interesting to me, as I recently took an online course on the subject of game theory.

    It is in this book that Dawkins coined the now-famous term "meme". The meme is a cultural analog of the biological gene. A meme seeks to self-perpetuate, and mutates if that aids its self-preservation. Dawkins devotes an entire fascinating chapter to his concept of the meme.

    Throughout the book, Dawkins deals with the dichotomy between the "selfishness" required for survival, and the "altruism" of human behavior. How do we explain altruism? Dawkins explores this dilemma over and over again, showing in virtually every case how the selfishness of genes can help to explain apparent altruistic behavior of the individual.

    This is an absolutely fascinating book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in genetics, evolution, or sociology.

  • Manny

    - What some people seem to find hard to understand is that there's a part of you, in fact the most important part, that's immaterial and immortal. Your body is really no more than a temporary shell for the immortal part, and houses it for a little while until it dies.

  • peiman-mir5 rezakhani

    دوستانِ گرانقدر این کتاب از 500 صفحه و 13 فصل تشکیل شده است

    عزیزانم، به ژنی در انتخابِ طبیعی برتری داده میشود که تجمعِ همتاهایِ آن در خزانۀ ژنی رو به افزایش باشد.توجهِ ما به ژن هایی است که به نظر میرسد رویِ رفتارِ اجتماعیِ دارندگانش اثر میگذارد، پس بیایید برایِ ژن ها تا حدی هوش و آزادی قائل شویم تا این نوشته و ریویو برایتان ملموس تر باشد

    دوستانِ گرامی، ژنِ خودخواه، فقط یک قطعۀ کوچک از دی اِن اِی نیست. بلکه همۀ نسخه هایِ قطعۀ خاصی از «دی اِن اِی» منتشر شده در سراسرِ جهان است و هدفش این است که تعداد

    دوستانِ گرانقدر این کتاب از 500 صفحه و 13 فصل تشکیل شده است

    عزیزانم، به ژنی در انتخابِ طبیعی برتری داده میشود که تجمعِ همتاهایِ آن در خزانۀ ژنی رو به افزایش باشد.توجهِ ما به ژن هایی است که به نظر میرسد رویِ رفتارِ اجتماعیِ دارندگانش اثر میگذارد، پس بیایید برایِ ژن ها تا حدی هوش و آزادی قائل شویم تا این نوشته و ریویو برایتان ملموس تر باشد

    دوستانِ گرامی، ژنِ خودخواه، فقط یک قطعۀ کوچک از دی اِن اِی نیست. بلکه همۀ نسخه هایِ قطعۀ خاصی از «دی اِن اِی» منتشر شده در سراسرِ جهان است و هدفش این است که تعدادِ خود را در خزانۀ ژنی افزایش دهد و این کار را با برنامه ریزی برایِ بقا و تولیدِ مثلِ بدن هایی که در آن است، انجام میدهد

    همۀ ما موجودات، ماشینِ بقا هستیم، برایِ یک نوع همتاساز که آن را «دی اِن اِی» مینامیم... این همتاسازها برایِ بقایِ خود ماشینهایِ مختلفی را ساخته اند... به عنوانِ مثال، میمون ماشینی است که ژن ها را در بالایِ درخت حفظ میکند.. ماهی ماشینی است که ژن را در آب نگه میدارد... و کرم دستگاهی است که ژن را در زیرِ خاک با ... نگه میدارد... پس دوستانِ من، دی اِن اِی عملکردِ اسرارآمیزی دارد

    بدنِ ما انسانها و موجوداتِ دیگر، ماشینی است که برایِ ژنهایش از هیچ کوششی فروگذار نمیکند.. ژن در هر بدن برایِ بقا از بهترین فرصت ها استفاده میکند، این فرصت ها بسته به آنکه بدن نر باشد یا ماده، با هم فرق دارند

    خوب دوستانِ خوبم، برای اینکه این ریویو خسته کننده و تخصصی نباشد.. سعی میکنم مثال هایِ جالب و نکته هایِ مهم در این کتاب و همۀ فصل هایش، در موردِ ژن را برایِ شما دوست دارانِ دانش و خرد، در زیر بنویسم

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    عزیزان، ژن هایِ خودخواه، گاهی با روشِ ایثارگری در بین همنوعان، سعی به بقایِ خود میکنند: مثلاً برخی از بابون ها ژنی وجود دارد، به نامِ « اگر یک نرِ بالغ هستی، از گروه در مقابلِ پلنگ دفاع کن» ... به این ترتیب بابونِ بالغ جانِ خود را برایِ دفاع از سایرین به خطر می اندازد

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    گاهی اوقات در طبیعت، بر خلافِ خواستۀ ژنِ خودخواه، عمل میشود

    مثلاً دیده شده که یک میمونِ مادر که داغ دار است و بچۀ خود را از دست داده، به جایِ تولیدِ مثل و تلاش برایِ بقایِ ژن هایِ خود، بچۀ میمونِ دیگری را از او میدزد و بزرگ میکند... با اینکار نه تنها به بقایِ ژنِ خود کمکی نکرده، بلکه این شانس را به رقیبِ ژنیِ خود داده تا تولیدِ مثلِ دوباره داشته باشد

    یا اینکه برخی از ماده ها وجود دارند که بچۀ یتیمی را بزرگ میکنند... در صورتیکه طبقِ قواعدِ ژنِ خودخواه، باید بچۀ یتیم از گرسنگی بمیرد

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    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه با تقلب به بقایِ خود کمک میکند

    به عنوانِ مثال، فاخته ها سعی میکنند تخم هایِ خود را به لانه هایِ پرندگانِ دیگر برده، تا آنها رویِ تخم بنشینند... حال اگر پرندۀ دیگر از تخمهایش شناخت داشته باشد، با پا تخمِ اضافه را به پایین می اندازد... اما برخی از پرندگان مانندِ کاکایی ها، به تخمی که رویِ آن نشسته اند، توجه نکرده، و فریب میخورند

    حال در گروه هایِ گوناگون ژنِ راستگو و ژنِ ایثارگر، متفاوت است

    ایثارگران، وقتی متوجه میشوند یکی از تخم ها مالِ خودشان نیست، بازهم آن را بزرگ میکنند، با اینکار باعث میشوند تا ژنِ تقلب در گروه پخش شود.. زیرا آن پرندۀ متقلب تند تند تخم گذاری میکند و اینکار را انجام میدهد

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    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه برایِ بقا به خیانت رو می آورد

    مثلاً وقتی ماده ای میبیند که جفتش در نبرد با نرِ دیگر مغلوب شده، سریع به سمتِ نرِ پیروز رفته و با او جفت گیری میکند تا ژنِ برتر حاصل شود

    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه با دروغ به بقایِ خود کمک میکند

    در پرندگان، وقتی مادر برایِ بچه ها کرم یا حشره می آورد، بچه ها دهانِ خود را باز میکنند و مادر به میزانِ صدا دقت کرده و به آنها خوراک میدهد، هر کدام گرسنه تر باشد بیشتر صدا میزند.... حال ممکن است ژنِ خودخواه در یکی از جوجه ها بیشتر باشد، در نتیجه جوجه تقلب کرده و وقتی سیر شده دوباره صدایِ بلند میدهد، هم مادر را گول میزند و هم به خواهر و برادرانش خیانت میکند و خواهر و برادرانش از گشنگی میمیرنند

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    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه برایِ بقا به تهدید رو می آورد

    مثلاً در پرندگان دو حالت دارد، یکی از جوجه ها که بزرگتر و قوی تر است، با صدایِ جیک جیکِ زیاد توجه شکارچیان را به آنها جلب میکند و میگوید: روباه، روباه بیا ما را بخور... لذا مادرش مجبور است دهانش را ببند و او راضی نگه دارد

    اما زمانی میرسد که جوجۀ ضعیفتر، ژنِ هوشمندی دارد، وقتی میبیند به او خوراک نمیرسد، شکارچی را صدا میکند، تا مادر فرار کرده، روباه بیاید و آن جوجۀ بزرگتر و زورگو را بخورد

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    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه برایِ بقا به دستور رو می آورد

    مثلاً اگر توله ای یا جوجه ای به دنیا بیاید و از خواهران و برادرانِ دیگرش کوچکتر و ضعیف تر و نحیف تر باشد، ژنی به او دستور میدهد که: « بدن، اگر از آنهایی که باهم زاده شده اید، خیلی کوچکتر هستی، تقلا نکن و بمیر»... و حتی بهتر است خوراکِ توله هایِ دیگر شود...به این ترتیب بیشترین سود را نصیبِ ژن هایش میکند

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    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه برایِ بقا به کشتن و قتل رو می آورد

    مثلاً پرندۀ «راهنمایِ کندویِ عسل»، مثلِ فاخته ها متقلب است و تخمِ خود را در لانۀ پرندگانِ دیگر میگذارد... این نوع پرنده، نوکِ تیز و خمیده ای دارد... وقتی از تخم بیرون می آید.. سریع جوجه هایِ دیگر را سوراخ سوراخ کرده و میکشد، تا برایِ گرفتنِ خوراک از دهانِ مادرِ ناتنیِ خود، با او رقابت نکنند

    یا نوعی پرستو، تخمِ خود را در لانۀ زاغ میگذارد... جوجه زودتر سر از تخم درآورده. و تخمِ زاغ را میانِ برجستگی هایِ بالش گذاشته و آن را به پایین پرت میکند

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    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه برایِ بقا به انتخاب رو می آورد

    مثلاً اگر ببیند تعداد نرها زیاد شده اند... نمیگذارد تخمدان ها اسپرمِ نرساز را دریافت کنند... در حالتِ عادی، ژنِ خودخواه ترجیه میدهد،والد، ماده به دنیا بیاورد

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    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه برایِ بقا به برده داری رو می آورد

    مثلاً گونه ای از مورچه ها هستند که به مورچه هایِ دیگر حمله کرده و سربازان را میکشند، و تخمهایِ ملکه را دزدیده و به لانۀ خود می آورند... وقتی بچه ها به دنیا می آیند، از آنها به عنوانِ برده استفاده میکنند

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    گاهی اوقات ژنِ خودخواه برایِ بقا به همزیستی رو می آورد

    مثلاً گونه ای از مورچه ها وجود دارند که از شته ها به عنوانِ حیوانِ خانگی استفاده میکنند، یعنی شته ها شیرۀ گیاهان را میمکند، سپس مورچه ها شته ها را میدوشند و این شیره را از پشتشان در می آورند... در ازایِ آن مورچه ها از خانۀ شته ها همچون سربازان محافظت میکنند

    ما انسان ها، در سلول هایمان چیزهایِ ریزی وجود دارد به نامِ «میتوکندری»... «میتوکندری» کارخانه هایِ شیمیاییِ کوچکی هستند که وظیفۀ تولیدِ انرژی را دارند... «میتوکندری» ها در اصل باکتری هایِ همزیستی هستند که از ابتدایِ تکامل با سلول هایِ ما پیوند یافته اند و داد و ستد میکنند

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    گاهی اوقات یک ژن بی جهت ژن هایِ دیگر را از بین میبرد... این ژنها دستگاه را بهم میریزند... مانندِ «ژنِ تی»... مثلاً در موش ها اگر موشی در کودکی دو ژنِ تی داشته باشد، در کودکی میمیرد

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    دوستانِ عزیزم، تنها چیزی که ژن ها به طورِ مستقیم میتوانند آن را تحتِ تأثیر قرار دهند، ترکیبِ پروتئین است

    امیدوارم این مطالب برایِ شما دوستدارانِ دانش، مفید بوده باشه

    «پیروز باشید و ایرانی»

  • Bradley

    Color me very impressed. I can now see why this is considered to be one of those hugely popular science books I keep hearing about and the reason why Dawkins has become so widely known and/or respected with or without his notoriety.

    Indeed, the pure science bits were pretty much awesome. We, or at least I, have heard of this theory in other contexts before and none of it really comes as much surprise to see that genes, themselves, have evolved strategies that are exactly the same as Game Theory i

    Color me very impressed. I can now see why this is considered to be one of those hugely popular science books I keep hearing about and the reason why Dawkins has become so widely known and/or respected with or without his notoriety.

    Indeed, the pure science bits were pretty much awesome. We, or at least I, have heard of this theory in other contexts before and none of it really comes as much surprise to see that genes, themselves, have evolved strategies that are exactly the same as Game Theory in order to find the best possible outcome for continued replication. Hence: the selfish gene.

    Enormous simple computers running through the prisoner's dilemma with each other, rival genes, and especially within whole organisms which could just be seen as gigantic living spacecraft giving the genes an evolutionary advantage of finding new and more prosperous adaptations.

    Yup! That's us!

    I honestly don't see the problem. I love the idea that we are just galaxies of little robots running complicated Game Theories that eventually turn into a great cooperative machine where everyone (mostly) benefits, with plenty of complicated moves going way beyond hawks and doves and straight into the horribly complicated multi-defectors, forgivers, and other evolutionary styles that depend on the events that have gone before and the pre-knowledge (or lack of) a set end-date for the entire experiment... in other words, our deaths, whether pre-planned or simply the entire mass of genes just coming to realize that it's no longer in their best interest to keep pushing this jalopy around any longer if they're not getting anything out of it... like further replication. :)

    Even when it's not precisely sex, it's still all about sex. :)

    Of course, what I've just mentioned isn't the entire book, because, as a matter of fact, the book walks us through so many stages of thought, previous research, developments, mistakes, and upgraded theories and surprising conclusions based on soooooo much observable data that any of us might be rightfully confounded with the weight of it unless we were in the heart of the research, ourselves.

    It's science, baby.

    Make sure you don't make the data conform to your theory. Build your theory from observable data. Improve upon it as the building blocks are proved or disproved, keep going until it is so damn robust until nothing but a true miracle could topple it, and then keep asking new questions.

    The fact is, this theory has nothing (or everything) to do with our lives. We play Game Theory, too, in exactly the same way every gene everywhere does, but we just happen to be able to make models on top of the situations and we're able to choose whether to see through the lies, the hawk strategies, or when to stop cooperating if the advantages work out much better for us if we did. We, like our genes, can choose long-term cooperative strategies or play everything like a Bear market. :)

    Even this book says that it's very likely that Nice Guys can win, but just like our lives, the gene lives keep discovering ever more complicated strategies and all eventual strategies become more and more situational.

    Isn't that us, to a tea? I wonder if most complaints about this book stem from complaints about Game Theory rather than the perceived conclusion (much better spelled out, not in this book, but in later books)... that atheism rules the day. It really isn't evident here. Instead, we have a macrocosm mimicking the microcosm and no one wants to challenge their comfortable world view.

    Things aren't simple. All choices to betray or cooperate are then met with situation and memory and ever complex meta-contexts, the difference between us and genes being that we're self-aware and the genes are not.

    Yes, yes, I see where the arguments can start coming out of the closet about self-determination and such, but that's not really the point of this book at all. The point is that it's a successful model that accurately describes reality. It has nothing at all to do with the macro-world except obliquely, and makes no value judgments on our art, our beliefs, or how we think about ourselves except in our uniquely stubborn and self-delusional ways that love to take things out of context and apply misunderstood concepts to our general lives and wonder why everything gets so screwed up. :)

    But then, maybe I'm just applying my own incomplete models to yet another and we lousy humans still lack WAY TOO MUCH data to build a really impressively improved model. :)

    Come on, Deep Thought. Where are you? :)

  • Brian Hodges

    Although I consider myself a Jesus-loving, god-fearing, creationist, I simply LOVE reading about evolution. I'm not sure what it is, but I find the whole concept, when explained by a lucid and accessible author, fascinating. And Dawkins is nothing if not lucid and accessible. He presents the topic and various questions and scientific controversies in a way that anybody with a willingness to pay attention can follow it. Some of the chapters were a bit more of a slog as Dawkins has to resort to sc

    Although I consider myself a Jesus-loving, god-fearing, creationist, I simply LOVE reading about evolution. I'm not sure what it is, but I find the whole concept, when explained by a lucid and accessible author, fascinating. And Dawkins is nothing if not lucid and accessible. He presents the topic and various questions and scientific controversies in a way that anybody with a willingness to pay attention can follow it. Some of the chapters were a bit more of a slog as Dawkins has to resort to scary scary math and numbers to prove some of his points and set up for even more mindblowing stuff in future chapters. But most of the time, this book is chock full of insanely interesting examples and user-friendly analogies. Dawkins sure knows his way around language too. One of my favorite lines is: "Sex: that bizarre perversion of straightforward replication."

    On the science of it all, as I said, I'm a creationist, but I like to read up on the other side and at least understand, if not appreciate, what their take on the matter is. And to read Dawkins is to realize, yes, this does sound like a very solid theory. My one stumbling block to getting onto the evolution train one hundred percent is time. Perhaps my comprehension of just how long hundred million years is is faulty, but I just can't wrap my mind around how all of these ACCIDENTAL mutations, with no conscious will on the part of the group, individual or gene itself, could possibly result in the complexity of life as we see it now. There is an adage that if you gave an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of time, they would eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. To believe evolution is to believe that you now have a FINITE amount of monkeys and a FINITE amount of time and yet they STILL manage to produce the complete works of Shakespeare... and they do it OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Just doesn't seem plausible. But perhaps further reading will sway me at a later date.

    EDIT 6/3/15

    I can't believe this review is still getting attention after all this time! And I love the thread that has developed in the comments. I should let you all know though that as of 2008 I have been living on the side of reason and rationality. I became an atheist after a LOT of reading and contemplating of the Bible (the link to my "de-conversion" story is down in the comments as well). I try these days to, as much as possible, follow the evidence wherever it leads. Additionally Dawkins' "The Ancestor's Tale" was one of THE most beautiful books I've ever read. Check out my review if you're interested.

  • Huda Yahya
  • Nathan

    Didactic, patronizing, condescending and arguably neo-intellectual twaddle. I do not believe in a God, certainly not any God that's been conceived by man, but I also believe Richard Dawkins is a self-satisfied thought-Nazi who is as fundamental in his view of religion as any right-wing minister. Fundamentalists of all faiths scare me, and atheism is just as much a faith as any religion. The existence or non-existence of a God cannot be proven, nor can the existence or non-existence of a soul, an

    Didactic, patronizing, condescending and arguably neo-intellectual twaddle. I do not believe in a God, certainly not any God that's been conceived by man, but I also believe Richard Dawkins is a self-satisfied thought-Nazi who is as fundamental in his view of religion as any right-wing minister. Fundamentalists of all faiths scare me, and atheism is just as much a faith as any religion. The existence or non-existence of a God cannot be proven, nor can the existence or non-existence of a soul, and faith is an abstract experience with implications that are fundamentally unresponsive to study. As such, pursuits like Dawkins' often boil down to one type of faith (in "reason") vs. another type of faith (in a "God"). Many people love Dawkins. He is certainly intelligent, and writes as such, but he lacks wisdom and imagination. To me, that's the flaw in all of his work, from The Selfish Gene to The God Delusion. The idea that one human being can know enough about the nature of the universe to make the sweeping declarations Dawkins' makes is preposterous to me, and no more credible than the sweeping declarations of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson.

    NC

  • Rebecca McNutt

    I'm agnostic myself, so I'm impartial, but Dawkins is so cynical, so against the idea that there is more to us as individual human beings than just intelligent apes meant to give birth, grow old and die, that he seems almost, for lack of a better phrase, sociopathic or antisocial. He leaves very little room for the profound depths of emotion, companionship, imagination, nostalgia or anything that goes against his view that we are just materialistic monkeys who won't matter to anyone a hundred ye

    I'm agnostic myself, so I'm impartial, but Dawkins is so cynical, so against the idea that there is more to us as individual human beings than just intelligent apes meant to give birth, grow old and die, that he seems almost, for lack of a better phrase, sociopathic or antisocial. He leaves very little room for the profound depths of emotion, companionship, imagination, nostalgia or anything that goes against his view that we are just materialistic monkeys who won't matter to anyone a hundred years from now. I found him as a narrator of this book to be rather obnoxious and appalling, and I don't think he understands just how unique our minds and meanings to one another really are. I don't think we are divine beings, but I don't think we are just animals, either. I think there's more to the human race than that. I'm not talking about religion, I'm talking about humanity. This book tries to prove a point, but portrays humans as consuming, greedy, sex maniac gorillas who only exist to reproduce. Perhaps that is true in some ways, but not all humans are alike and to generalize them in this manner leaves no room for anything beyond Dawkins' view of logic. I think he's very full of himself, convinced he has all the answers, and the truth is nobody knows everything about the world and the only thing selfish about

    is the author himself, who seems to pride himself on putting down anyone who doesn't share his values.

  • Petra Eggs

    If you are bored look up the Community Reviews, sort by 1-star. They are very entertaining. One of them as a uni professor advising a student to burn down the book store where they bought this book. Then we have the creationists, then the person who thinks it is all a capitalist manifesto. There are those who think he is arrogant, depraved, uses philistine language (!) ...

    How can anyone be a creationist and not believe in dinosaurs and such? Do they believe that the earth is flat? Are they the

    If you are bored look up the Community Reviews, sort by 1-star. They are very entertaining. One of them as a uni professor advising a student to burn down the book store where they bought this book. Then we have the creationists, then the person who thinks it is all a capitalist manifesto. There are those who think he is arrogant, depraved, uses philistine language (!) ...

    How can anyone be a creationist and not believe in dinosaurs and such? Do they believe that the earth is flat? Are they the sort of people who pay astrologers money to cast their charts because of course your fate is determined by the stars at the moment of your birth? Jesus wept. Or he would have. I'm reading Josephus at the moment, it seems that the only mention of Jesus at the time he was living was in Josephus but that it might have been added later... That's a whole other story, and one which Dawkins might have liked, but these one-star creationists certainly won't.

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