A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

1 minute read Published: 2019-07-16

Goodreads summary: Richard Dawkins's essays are an enthusiastic testament to the power of rigorous, scientific examination, and they span many different corners of his personal and professional life. He revisits the meme, the unit of cultural information that he named and wrote about in his groundbreaking work The Selfish Gene. He makes moving tributes to friends and colleagues, including a eulogy for novelist Douglas Adams; he shares correspondence with the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould; and he visits with the famed paleoanthropologists Richard and Maeve Leakey at their African wildlife preserve. He concludes the essays with a vivid note to his ten-year-old daughter, reminding her to remain curious, to ask questions, and to live the examined life.

★★☆☆☆

A better name for this book would be "Dawkins, by Dawkins". It's a collection of articles written by Dawkins, selected by Dawkins himself.

The first thing I noticed is that, for a "smart" person, Dawkins surely can't write. It seems he tries to shove so much stuff in an article that, at some later point, you start asking yourself what the heck was the point he was trying to make to start with.

The other thing I noticed is how much he likes to quote other people. The very first article is so full of quotes, it feels like more than half of it is simply quotes. And absolutely a sloppy job in stitching them together.

On top of that, there is a constant feeling that Dawkins believes he's "Neo-Darwinian Prime": The only person capable of talking about new Darwinian theories, and calling other theories wrong. I have the feeling that, in the foreword for a Stephen Gould book, Dawkins claimed the book was wrong. But, then again, with the mess Dawkins do with its ideas, I'm not actually sure if it was a review or a foreword.

And even if, through this book, Dawkins claims that he has a good relationship with Gould, the fact that he keeps claiming he believes Gould theories are wrong, and that general feeling that he's the only one that can claim to be neo Darwinian makes me believe that he, actually, didn't.

In general, I'm not even sure if this book gives a good impression of Dawkins.