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Dawkinism for the Clueless Dawkinites: Part 3 We are the Robots

October 29, 2009

Dawkinism for the Clueless Dawkinites: Part 3 We are the Robots

Just another Rationalist Hero

Rationalists come in all shapes and sizes with as many varied beliefs as there are religions in the world. The old Rationalist Society of Victoria learned that some years back when they split up due to bitter infighting. The Fabian Society had a bitter dispute between H G Wells and George Bernard Shaw with Wells accusing Shaw of being the New Machiavelli. You may call me cynical but somehow I get the impression so called ‘superior groups of intellectuals’ have all the same foibles as a rabble bikies at an airport. Hence when I hear someone say: ‘Oh, I am rationalist,’ I just roll my eyes and wait for the next inevitable self-congratulation, ‘so, therefore, I am more rational than you.’ Self-serving circular arguments only impress self-serving people. They are nothing more than a positive stereotype and a prejudice. ‘I am more scientific than you because I am an atheist,’ is another example of a circular argument that refers to itself in order to prove itself. Objective evidence is never referred to and so the case is never proven objectively.

Dawkins may be a scientist but he is also a rationalist. These are two distinctly different things which for some reason Dawkinism tries to present as one. This inability to know the difference between science and rationalism is a trait shared by other rationalists. One could argue that they do know the difference but intentionally blur the boundaries in order to sell their least palatable policies as cold hard science. “A win for science, you can’t argue with science and you are anti-science if you do not agree,” are examples of how low the argument can get. So to be questioning the scientific validity of one rationalist’s claim the instant accusation of being anti-science is flung at the person. Such methods may be common amongst novices but is still ad hominem by nature and has no place in any scientific discussion.

We are just a Robot to Carry the Selfish Gene

I could go into greater depth and explain it in Dawkins superlatives of Dawkinisms but I hate using emotional adjectives to make a point. I find it a sign of sloppy thinking or manipulative writing.

According to Dawkins our purpose for existence is determined by our genes: A selfish gene to be precise. The reason why we survive is to pass on this selfish gene and give it another chance to survive another generation. The Selfish Gene tricks us into eating, drinking, reproducing and caring for our young because that gives it the best chance of survival. We are basically Robots whose sole purpose is to carry these genes into the future.

In short, our purpose according to Dawkins is to keep the meat fresh until it is optimal to reproduce and to spread and multiply. Notice how the virus analogy can be applied here also (Memes being viral marketing of concepts and genes being viral marketing of… themselves?)

The cat, dog, fish and humans are the carrier and the genes are the essence that they carry. They exist to carry out the insatiable wishes of genes that are in competition with each other. Survival of the species in Dawkinism is superseded with the survival of the genes. The gene that survives will be the winner.

“…We animals exist for their preservation and are nothing more than their throwaway survival machines. The world of the selfish gene is one of savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit…”
From The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.

“The argument of this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes.”
The Selfish Gene, Chapter 1.

Rationalists, like Dawkinites, love this kind of trite universe where complicated life is reduced down to being nothing more than a disposable robot. Humans become a thing whose only value is what they can contribute positively to the gene pool. The innate value is not in their humanity but in their genes. The wheels and cogs of the universe can keep spinning in perfect order as we have now found which tiny cog we are in this giant machine. We are just robots.

The purpose of existence is to continue the existence of the Genes. And for what purpose do the genes exist? To continue their own existence?

Some people will be scratching their head at this moment as to why the Dawkinites cannot see that we are obviously not robots. However, for Dawkinites we are robots and we would think that we are not because our Genes have programmed us to think that way. Tricky little buggers.

Wagging the Dog

Genes are long strings of molecules that cannot replicate by themselves. Even the simplest forms of life, such as a virus, needs a host in order to replicate. Viruses infect hosts and use the nutrients from that host as raw material to rebuild itself. However, there is a whole system of complicated interaction before this can take place. It becomes a chicken verse egg argument when we claim one is controlling the other.

Genes can be extracted from dead tissue years after the body is gone because they are pretty inert molecules when they are not being used. In reality, genes are a program that the cell uses for its survival. In the Richard Dawkins universe, these molecules sudden have intelligence and a selfish desire to live. We are expected to accept that a list of instructions suddenly has the selfish desire to live. Since we do not accept that premise in any other sphere why should we accept it in Dawkins’?

To make a point if I said that computer disk sitting on my desk had a selfish desire to live I would be considered insane. All that any program contains is a list of instructions for a computer: do something this way and then this. Emotional traits like desire and selfishness have no place in the digital world. In the simple world of genes, where only four possible chemicals (ATCG) decide the next instruction, we have no mechanism for emotions to be expressed. Emotions are a function of the mind, not the genes. A program cannot read itself. Tails do not wag dogs. Even genetic ones. Dogs wag tails.

Eye of the Beholder

Finally, we can always accept the Dawkins universe if we so choose, but that does not make it more valid than the criticisms of it. Robots and Selfish Genes are analogies, not proven science. Dawkins for all his years of writing about Selfish Genes has not been able to point to the mechanism that made them so selfish. Survival of the gene may replace survival of the species as a motto, but it still remains a motto used to support a theory. So What? Mottos prove nothing.

Are you just a disposable Robot for a list of instructions? Or is there more to your existence than efficiently passing on your genes before you die in a preprogrammed manner? Dawkinism considers you a robot because it can ignore all evidence that disagrees with that verdict. It is not unlike other materialist rationalist theories in that respect. The universe turns upon complicated wheels and levers where we sit as just another well-oiled cog. Is that all we are? A Robot? Or is there more things in Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in the Dawkins philosophy?

Part 4 will be asking: Why are Dawkinites so mean?

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