Richard Dawkins takes no prisoners. The evolutionary biologist has been called Darwin’s Rottweiler for his ferocious defense of evolutionary theory; his opponents are “squelched, pulverised, annihilated, rendered into suitably primordial paste.” But Dawkins is as adept an explainer as he is a combatant. The Magic of Reality, newly out in paperback, is a sort of love letter to the sense of wonder that nature can inspire. The world contains no supernatural magic, and our minds play tricks on us when we experience stage magic. But the science can produce poetic magic, a respect that moves us to tears. He goes about paying tribute to some of the countless ways that the natural world instills awe in us.

His first book, The Selfish Gene, sparked a renaissance in science writing and popularized the gene-centered view of evolution (the view that genes use individuals to replicate and spread, rather than visa versa). Humans and all other living things, Dawkins argued, are in a way the machines that genes make to survive and reproduce, though that does not make us slaves to genes—genes provide the blueprint, but then largely leaves us alone. The Selfish Gene also introduced the term “meme” to describe cultural phenomena that, like genes, use humans to propagate themselves through a process of natural selection.

Read more at the Daily Beast.

Published On: September 27, 2012

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