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Focus Magazine And Richard Dawkins’ Story Of The ‘Selfish Gene’

The March, 2003, edition of Focus magazine carried an article called “The Gene is Selfish.” This dealt with various evolutionist theses developed from Darwin”s time up to the present day, and examined these theses” assumptions regarding genes. It was claimed in the article that the book The Selfish Gene, published in 1976 by the confirmed atheist and Darwinist zoologist Richard Dawkins, had resolved various points that these theses had tripped up over. In the book, Dawkins says: “We are survival machines–robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.” This article is a response to the evolutionist theses considered in the Focus article, and reveals that genes represent an insoluble dilemma both for Dawkins” claims and for the theory of evolution in general.

Evolutionists” Helplessness in the Face of the Blow Altruistic Behavior Deals to the Theory of Evolution

In Focus magazine Dawkins” book is portrayed as the solution to a question that has concerned a great many evolutionists, including Darwin himself. The magazine indicates that some courageous and self-sacrificing behavior in living things cannot be explained in terms of Darwin”s concept of natural selection. Citing an example of this it poses the question:

For example, why did birds chirp louder as the likelihood of an attack went up or in moments of danger, or why did bees sacrifice their lives to defend the nest?

In these examples, birds and bees defend the group”s interests at the cost of their own lives. This behavior represents a serious dilemma for the theory of evolution, which maintains that there is a constant fight for survival among living things. According to evolutionist logic, the bird or bee should fly off and save itself rather than defending the community.

In his book The Descent of Man, which he published in 1871 to overcome this difficulty, Charles Darwin suggested that, despite having previously emphasized the individual fight for survival, evolution was actually a process which worked not amongst individuals but at the group level. According to this, the feature of “courage” possessed by bees and birds was an attribute, which played a role not in the struggle of the individual but of the species as a whole. Darwin focused on the group rather than the individual, thus “covering up” the problem.

Focus magazine puts forward this forced turn-around in Darwin”s ideas as a so-called solution to the problem. “Darwin revealed that evolution was a process which functioned not at the individual, but at the group level.” The truth is, however, that there is no process of evolution. The individuals that display the self-sacrificing behavior in question cannot cause the groups to which they belong to evolve into other living things. Of course the capacities for communication and solidarity in some groups may give them a survival advantage over other groups. Yet there will be no change in the species concerned. For instance, even if one group of sparrows with excellent communication and cooperation between the members are well defended from eagles and thus possess an advantage over other groups, the surviving group can still not turn into another species of bird, owls perhaps. It is clearly deceptive to equate this situation with evolution.

Focus magazine contains another inconsistent approach to the subject of altruistic behavior. According to the “kin selection” thesis put forward by William Hamilton in 1964, it may be significant that individuals give up their own lives for the sake of the group in a self-sacrificing way because genetic features do not come to an end with the death of the individual. Since the sets of genes an individual possesses are also present in its siblings, characteristics from the mother and father can be handed on down to later generations without disappearing. Focus describes the position in these terms from the point of view of genes: “According to the genes” perspective, this situation is better than them all disappearing … Since the death of an individual meant the continuation of many more sets of genes, self sacrifice became meaningful. In this way, Hamilton showed that self-sacrifice could be explained in genetic terms by “relative selection.”

This is clearly a most illogical claim to make. It is true that in the event of a living thing”s death its genes can be handed on to later generations via its siblings or offspring. It is most illogical, however, to suggest that genes have conscious plans regarding the handing on of genes and that they in this way control the behavior of living things. Above all, it is impossible to reduce the concept of self-sacrifice to the genes. That is because self-sacrifice is linked to consciousness: The living thing displaying self-sacrifice must first be aware of its own existence and that of others. Furthermore, it must “want” others to survive at the cost of its own life, for which reason it needs to be “able to feel” the emotion of self-sacrifice. Genes, however, consist of unconscious molecules. The elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphate, which make up the genes cannot “want” or “feel” anything. They cannot know about their “brothers” in other organisms. They cannot have a “point of view.” There is no difference between believing that and believing that stones or grains of sand can think and make plans. In order not to accept the fact of creation, evolutionists happily embrace this most irrational thesis.

The effort to account for an abstract feeling by means of genes made up of molecules stems from the materialist view which the theory of evolution rests on. Materialist thought maintains that everything consists of matter and assumes that human thoughts and feelings are the work of the molecular exchanges which go on in the human body. Yet the fact that the question of how human consciousness comes into being has not yet been resolved, according to the evolutionist and materialist view, invalidates these assumptions. Scientists who have scanned the brain for many years with the most sophisticated equipment have been unable to obtain even the smallest clue as to how consciousness forms and where it lies. At this point, materialists make confessions that consciousness is a supra-material and “magical” phenomenon. In short, neither the brain nor the genes can account for self-sacrifice.

The article later moves on to Richard Dawkins” claims. It describes how Dawkins has taken Hamilton”s ideas regarding the genes one step further, and how with the concept of the “selfish gene” he portrays these as beings secretly traveling about in the body and trying to ensure their own futures. According to this, Dawkins claims that fish committing suicide or courageous behavior by baboons takes advantage of this concept, but that a single creature or human being is not entirely controlled by selfish genes.

On closer inspection, Dawkins” thesis turns out to be deceptive. This time Dawkins describes genes as “selfish” beings, in other words with thoughts, feelings and desires. Later, according to that definition, he claims that genes come together to create and develop organisms. When we consider that the things we call genes are a group of hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen held together by phosphate and sugars and consider this a little deeper we can see how nonsensical Dawkins” theory really is. Attempting to account for the design in these atoms by means of “selfishness” is like saying that of a car that “All the components of the car, its metal frame, tires, screws, plastic parts etc. are very fond of one another, and they came together in the light of that affection to form a car, and thanks to that affection they constantly evolve and make new models.” In other words, it is very insensible. Ascribing “selfishness” to genes is just as ridiculous as ascribing “affection” to car components.

The sole reason why Dawkins and the other evolutionists believe in the nonsense of the “selfish gene” is their unwillingness to accept that genes are created. To put it another way, they are unwilling to believe in the existence of Allah and His creation. In fact, Dawkins is a fanatical atheist who has never made any secret of his hostility towards religion.

Focus itself is engaging in atheistic propaganda.

Dawkins suggests that alongside genes culture also plays a role in human behavior. He describes the forms of behavior imposed by culture as “memes.” It is stated in the Focus magazine article that on this subject Dawkins was influenced by the theory of joint genetic-cultural evolution proposed by the Italian geneticist Luigi Cavalli-Sforza in the 1970s. An example of this idea is given and it is explained how a cultural change in the development of dairy-operation in one region of the world can influence the permanence of the genes needed for the digestion of lactose in milk.

Lactose is a form of sugar found in milk and is digested in our bodies by an enzyme known as lactase. The gene which produces lactase is “open” in all human beings at the moment of birth. The gene then “closes” after weaning. That is why some people are unable to digest milk or ice-cream products containing lactose and are liable to such discomforts as stomach cramps. However, adults in some races are able to continue without losing their ability to digest lactose. Ninety-seven percent of adult Scandinavians, for instance, are able to digest lactose. In Far Eastern races, however, that level goes down to just above zero. The Scandinavians were one of the first races to move to making dairy products. Far Eastern peoples, on the other hand, attached little importance to it or moved to it at a later stage.

It must be stressed, however, that the example given here does not demonstrate “evolution.” The gene in question has always existed in the pool composed of variations of human genes. In societies engaged in making dairy products the variation of the gene which permits lactose digestion is widespread, whereas in other communities which consume fewer milk products the variation which does not produce lactase (in adults) is more common.

An example may be given to clarify the situation: All human beings” genes possess the genetic feature of oriental-type eyes, yet this feature is actually expressed in Far Eastern and Eskimo peoples but not in other races.

The real reason for Dawkins” emphasis on the concept of memes is to add credibility to his “selfish gene” claim. Yes, people consciously display cultural behavior. Dawkins can call this “meme” or something else, as he wishes. Yet peoples” displaying cultural behavior makes no contribution whatsoever to the claim, or nonsense, that genes are conscious. The term “meme” which Dawkins employs to adorn his theory of the “selfish gene,” is unable to make any contribution to the theory of evolution.

In essence, this claim that “the gene is selfish” dealt with in Focus magazine is a superstition ascribing power and reason to unconscious atoms. The magazine”s authors should stop and think for a moment as they write about “selfish genes.” The genes they describe as “selfish,” and which they refer to as making selfish plans, are actually molecular chains made up of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon atoms etc. Do they really believe these atoms are “selfish?” In that case they may also believe that the chairs they sit on are jealous, their tables are bashful and their coffee cups melancholic. Once a person is blindly devoted to Darwinism and materialist philosophy there is no falsehood he will not believe. 

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