Selfish gene in science

Hello everyone! I apologize if this topic has already been raised (I will be grateful for the link to it). I have this question. Is the selfish Dawkins gene a science theory or just science fiction? What is the relationship to the selfish gene in the scientific community? Are there famous scientists who disagree with him? I’ve read a lot of reviews and Dawkins’ supporters say the critics are just stupid and don’t understand his great ideas. Is this so or is it not accepted in the scientific community either? Thank!

This is one subject where I don’t know a lot about it so I can’t comment on that aspect. I’ve not even read this particular book. I’m not sure who wrote it but I was listening to a podcast recently that had a scientist on there who was writing a book as a counter to the selfish gene. I tried to find the podcast again but it was to many days back to be in my recent podcast list.

I’ve heard it randomly come up in different talks and it’s always seemed to be an area of contention though.

I don’t think he proposed that there is a gene for selfishness, but rather, through natural selection, genetic material tends to evolve in a way that promotes its own transmission when the organism reproduces (the genes act “selfishly” regardless of whether their transmission helps the organism). It’s a gene-centric as opposed to organism-centric view of natural selection and evolution. It has been a helpful idea for understanding how some cancers work, for example.

He also introduced the idea of memetics in cultural evolution. I’ve heard that if he could go back in time and rename the book, he would have called it The Immortal Gene, because so many people have gotten the wrong impression from the title.

The book is like 40 years old. I’m pretty sure the ideas introduced have been refined, built on in some ways, modified by others, discarded by some. Scientists are not all in 100% agreement on how to conceptualize everything.

3 Likes

Thank you for the answer! It. was helpful

While there are a number of Dawkins’ books which I can endorse as good explorations of the science of evolutionary biology, there are books by Dawkins which are not so good no matter how popular they might have been. The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion are two which I do not recommend – the first because of its implied reductionist anthropomorphizing and the second for its unscientific premise and amateurish theology. Looking at a list of his books, however, shows me that there are other books which promise to be even worse. But… Climbing Mount Improbable and Ancestors Tale have my full recommendation.

Do not get confused over the Dawkins delusion about reality. One could also declare the selfish life and be correct.
The Dawkinian problem is his struggle with selfishness, the core hypothesis of the bible which sees selfishness as the human problem in the self based definition of good and evil. A gene cannot be selfish as it lacks self awareness. If you look at a gene as a word / or spoken bit of information you will see that it is anything but selfish as it is the expression of will/information which is by definition slave to it’s origin.
The word / information / code does however have a problem with regards to its survival or more specifically failure to die, e.g. to turn selfish as in propagating itself to the cost of others. If it propagates itself for the benefit of the not self as in the case of a gene it is not selfish.
Selfishness in evolutionary terms is a dead end as it leads to deletion of the selfish element by the system in order for the system to survive. If that is not the case and the elements of a system such as a cancer cell turns “selfish” and obtains what some people see survival fitness as in better resource utilisation and outpopulating the others you can see the untimely death of the system as a consequence. The human body, as a brilliant example of the complexity evolution can achieve at a system level is a good example to understand the regulatory component of evolution in to love thy neighbour like thyself, thus to lay down your life for the benefit of others.
If you look at God through the eye of Dawkins, he is the ultimate symbol of selfishness, but then we al know that his eye is a perfect example of stupid design but shows what flawed outcome evolution produces according to his understanding of evolution. That this is a declaration of your own intellectual bankruptcy is only evident to the onlookers who do not see evolution as a process that demonstrated that there can’t be an intelligent creator.

If you want a provocative tile you could write “The immor(t)al gene” for a philosophical discourse

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.