By Chet Yarbrough
By Richard Dawkins
Narrated by Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
Putting “Prime Mover” arguments aside, Dawkins writes an interesting explanation of why “Natural Selection” is the likely (statistically most probable) progenitor of human life. One can easily refuse to give up belief in God and still appreciate Dawkins’ erudite explanation of the adaptions of life forms to the environment in which humanity lives.
A fundamental concern that frightens one who believes in natural selection is the slothful speed of human adaptation to changes in world environment. One wonders-who wins the race between global warming and human adaptation?
The truth of natural selection threatens the life of human beings in the same way species extinction occurs throughout history. Some suggest “that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct.” (David Raup in 1991 publication “Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck”) True or not, it seems impossible to deny the likelihood that human beings will disappear like the mastodon or dinosaur. What Dawkins makes one think about is what mankind is doing to delay extinction. Are we dumb beasts–waiting for environmental changes to kill us like dinosaurs? Or, are we self-aware and capable of acting rather than reacting to circumstance?
Some small pieces of evidence like R and D for alternate energy resources show that at least a minority of humanity is concerned. However, the majority of humanity is living to survive the day rather than worry about tomorrow. The beauty of life is made ugly by the wealth of a few nations; i.e. the rich can afford to think and do something about tomorrow but choose to apathetically or greedily pursue the luxuries of today.Money, power, and prestige get in the way of long-term thinking. Freedom is an essential need of all human beings but humankind cannot be trusted to live in a state of nature. Natural greed blinds us all. Bernie Madoff is an example of unfettered freedom; i.e. an individual example of human greed and a prescient vision of humanity’s descent into despair. Some middle ground must be found to allow people to be free without jeopardizing human survival.
Dawkins shows a convergence of chemistry, biology, and other fields of science that are leading human beings to new discoveries about the substance of life; how far humankind has to go to understand who they are, where they come from, and where they may go.
Dawkins explains that DNA is like a computer processing unit with ROM and RAM. DNA has a “read only memory” but it can be modified if one knows the key. The problem is science’s search for a key is like a trek to the peak of Mount Everest. It seems to this reviewer that science is in the foothills of Mount Everest with the vault’s undiscovered DNA key at its peak. The search for DNA’ knowledge is a race against species extinction.