Several years ago, I was privileged to conduct an interview with one of the foremost scientific philosophers of our time. It was this interview that catapulted me to the top of the famous-interviewer list and resulted in my house being fire-bombed by the O'Hare organization.
No, not really. The interview is fictional, of course. The interviewee is a fictional character, and is not meant to portray any real Oxford biologist, living or dead. And I am a man with the good looks of Brad Pitt and the physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Without any further ado, here is
Richard Darkwhims, an evolutionary chronosynclastic sociogenobiologist, is the author of The Selfish Germ, Blinding the Watchmaker, Climb Mount Niitaka! and Blather Out of Eden. In this candid interview, he expresses his free-thinking, anti-superstitionalist thoughts in a manner suited to the brutish understanding of you, the public.
BPL: In your first book, you express the basic idea of sociogenobiology by saying, "We are genetic survival machines -- giant, blundering robots blindly programmed to serve the selfish molecular objects I like to call 'genes'." Has your view altered in any substantial way since then?
RD: Isn't that a great image? "Giant, blundering robots." I thought of making it "giant, blind, lumbering, blundering, stupid bloody robots," but I didn't want to overdo it.
BPL: Wonderful. And yet, some of your colleagues, in particular, the late Sterling J. Gold-
RD: "Gold." Doesn't that name sound a little... you know... Zionist?
BPL: Some of your colleagues claim that the environment doesn't see genes, but bodies, and that the proper unit of selection is therefore the individual rather than the gene.
RD: Bloody stupid nonsense! It's genes all the way down.
BPL: Well, do you have any empirical-
RD: Excuse me, didn't you hear me? I said, it's GENES all the way down.
BPL: Yes, but is there any-
RD: Genes. G-E-N-E-S, GENES. Do I make myself clear?
BPL: Unmistakably. Well, let me tackle a different subject. When the Pope came out on the side of evolution several years ago, most biologists were pleased to have such a statement coming from a major religious figure. Yet your response was that "the Pope is a dope, and ought to be beaten with a car antenna."
RD: It wasn't meant to be taken literally.
BPL: But CNN has film of the Vatican Swiss Guard wresting a car antenna out of your grasp and ejecting you from Saint Peter's Basilica.
RD: Well, if I hadn't done it, someone else would have. Did I mention that Sterling J. Gold was, er, one of them?
BPL: Let's get back to sociogenobiology. You also state, "...the dominant quality one expects from a successful gene is ruthless, brutal selfishness... This gene selfishness will usually cause selfishness in individual behavior." Isn't this a fallacy of composition?
RD: Excuse me? Excuse me, did you say fallacy in connection with my reasoning?
BPL: Well... yes.
RD: This is SCIENCE. There are no fallacies in science! Only in religion, which, like all well-educated people, I detest with abject, shuddering hatred. Here, listen to this! [Mr. Darkwhims whips out a copy of The Selfish Germ.] "The Septuagint mistranslates the Hebrew word for 'young woman' into the Greek word for 'virgin'!" How's that for a fallacy!
BPL: But isn't predicting that a young woman will bear a child about like predicting that the Sun will rise? It's only portentous if the word means "virgin."
RD: Don't defend these people! In the middle ages they thought the world was flat!
BPL: Actually, the Almagest, which was used to teach astronomy all through the middle ages, says that the world is spherical.
RD: They thought it was flat! FLAT! Oh, I can't stand it. The thought that someone might once have been wrong about the shape of the Earth makes me physically ill.
BPL: Does that explain why you called Roman Catholicism a "virus?"
RD: Can you think of a better description?
BPL: And suggested that astrologers be put in jail?
RD: Best place for them, really.
BPL: And that religious schools be "abolished?"
RD: I didn't mean it in the sense of "abolished." More in the sense of "banned" or "shut down."
BPL: Do you agree with people who've labeled you a fascist?
RD: Absolute bloody nonsense! Hitler didn't know anything about genes. They thought nucleoprotein was the genetic material back then, poor dumb bastards. The point is, believing in evolution inevitably proves that religion has to be stopped.
BPL: So, what's your suggestion for what to do about it? In The Selfish Germ you define religious belief as "a form of mental illness."
RD: Well, what does one do with the mentally ill? Lock them up and beat them with sticks, of course. Look, it's for their own good. If I didn't do it, somebody else would. Say, this is a lovely bit of stick right here. Um, you're not by any chance a religious believer, are you?
BPL: Our time is up. Thank you so much for consenting to this interview.
RD: God obviously can't exist, or I would have won a Nobel Prize by now.
BPL: Thank you.
RD: Did I mention that Sterling J. Gold was a Zionist?