Из интервью с участим Richard Dawkins, Mother Jones, Michael Krasny, 17 марта 1997 г.
San Francisco, California Academy of Sciences benefit.
"MK: You're known for your atheism and your comment that
"religion is a virus." Are you more tolerant toward religion these days?
RD: No. I am often asked to explain as a biologist
why religion has such a hold. The theory is this: When a child is young,
for good Darwinian reasons, it would be valuable if the child believed
everything it's told. A child needs to learn a language, it needs to learn
the social customs of its people, it needs to learn all sorts of rules
-- like don't put your finger in the fire, and don't pick up snakes,
and don't eat red berries. There are lots of things that for good survival
reasons a child needs to learn.
So it's understandable that Darwinian natural selection
would have built into the child's brain the rule of thumb, "Be
fantastically gullible; believe everything you're told by your elders
That's a good rule, and it works. But any rule that
says "Believe everything you're told" is automatically going to be
vulnerable to parasitization. Computers, for example, are vulnerable
to parasitization because they believe all they're told. If you tell
them in the right programming language, they'll do it. Computer viruses
work by somebody writing a program that says, "Duplicate me and, while
you're at it, erase this entire disk."
My point is that the survival mechanism that makes
children's brains believe what they're told -- for good reason -- is
automatically vulnerable to parasitic codes such as "You must believe
in the great juju in the sky," or "You must kneel down and face east
and pray five times a day." These codes are then passed down through
generations. And there's no obvious reason why it should stop.
There's an additional factor in the virus theory,
which is that those viruses that are good at surviving will be the
ones that are more likely to survive. So, if the virus says, "If you
don't believe in this you will go to hell when you die," that's a
pretty potent threat, especially to a child. Or, if it says, "When
you become a little bit older you will meet people who will tell you
the opposite of this, and they will have remarkably plausible arguments
and they'll have lots of what they'll call evidence on their side and
you'll be really tempted to believe it, but the more tempted you are,
the more that's just Satan getting at you." This is exactly what many
creationists in this country have been primed with.
MK: You've said that when you discovered Darwin,
everything fell into place. You felt a peace of mind. How was your
atheism confirmed by Darwinism?
RD: Before I discovered Darwin, I was fascinated
by the apparent design and beauty of living things. I knew enough
biology to know that living creatures are prodigiously complicated
and elegant. They look exactly as though they'd been designed. That
was why I believed in a divine creator. Because I had been so persuaded
by this argument for design, when I discovered Darwinism, I had a
kind of "road to Damascus" experience.
I think there is a serenity that comes from
understanding, from being able to solve a mystery. And the bigger
the mystery, the greater the serenity. When you think about the
diversity, complexity, and beauty of life -- the elegance of the
apparent design of life -- it adds up to a colossal mystery. And
the solution, Darwin's solution, is quite remarkably simple. My
serenity comes from the satisfaction of seeing a really, really neat,
elegant explanation that can explain so much."
"The survival value of the god meme in the meme pool results from
its great psychological appeal. It provides a superficially plausible
answer to deep and troubling questions about existence. It suggests that
injustices in this world may be rectified in the next. The 'everlasting
arms' hold out a cushion against our own inadequacies which, like
a doctor's placebo, is none the less effective for being imaginary.
These are some of the reasons why the idea of God is copied so readily
by successive generations of individual brains. God exists, if only in
the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in
the environment provided by human culture."
"The Selfish Gene"
"The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond
all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose
this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others
are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly
being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds
are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there
ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an
increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and
misery is restored.
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces
and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other
people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason
in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe
has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom,
no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless
"God's Utility Function," Scientific American, November 1995 г.