Latest Issue

Beautiful metaphors, bad science

Richard Dawkins-God's own atheist-has become an academic celebrity thanks to his vigorous defence of classical science. Andrew Brown reviews his recent work and argues that his DNA-determinism merely substitutes one God for another

By Andrew Brown   June 1996

The reaction against Darwin in this century has taken two religious forms. One is to reject his theory. The other is to ransack it for objects of worship. It seems almost impossible to hold clearly in our minds the idea that we may not matter-as if it were logically impossible that anything capable of thinking and feeling unimportant should in fact be unimportant. The clearest illustration of this is to be found in the work of Richard Dawkins.

The Selfish Gene was a book about genes, but almost everyone read it as a book about people. What it said about…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect