Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins

I'd gone looking for 'the god delusion', but ended up with this one instead.

I can't say I ever understood Darwin's theory of evolution very well, just had a rough idea that he said life evolved from aquatic microbial life through ever more complex organisms , and then we descended from monkeys - the better known and better hated part for the more biblical minded .

Its rather an interesting read, in that it sort of tries to explain the "why" and "how" of the evolution theory. This particular theory takes the approach of defining a gene as a piece of the chromosome as something that lasts for a long time over generations, and then considers this to be a sort of preprogramming unit which is selfishly trying to survive. Sort of a microscopic view as opposed to the rather more commonly layman understanding of a group or herd , or even the individual trying to survive.

I don't think I understand enough to be able to take a stand for or against the theory, but it sure made interesting reading. Some crucial bits still seemed to be glossed over,  eg why the complicated move from molecular to giant lumbering robots as dawkins calls us? or even trickier, why bisexual evolution, when single celled division could've gone great guns? or even the very basic idea of how genes themselves have been defined, seems a little iffy.

Interesting questions, and there are quite a few others to which it seems to give rather convincing explanations. ESS or an evolutionary stable strategy was a particularly neat way of explaining some rather common questions about why this and not that.

Looking for the god delusion even more now!

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