Richard Dawkin's Essay on Darwin's Wasp

Richard Dawkin's Essay on Darwin's Wasp

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In Richard Dawkins’s essay about Darwin’s wasp, he makes an argument that nature’s role is to ensure DNA survival. The inductive argument begins by observing the behavior of the wasp. As Dawkins observes, the wasp inserts its stinger into the central nervous system of the caterpillar and paralyzes it. Then the wasp implants larva. The larvae eat the caterpillar alive. This may seem cruel to the human mind if we apply the concept of suffering to this process, but ultimately, this is nature at work. He cites several primary sources of data including the behavior of the wasp to the cheetah and the gazelle. This inductive thought process illustrates and supports Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
Dawkins further argues that purposeful design is an illusion. In doing so, Dawkins cites the work of William Paley as a secondary source to argue his own point there is not a divine maker. Paley points out that if a watch has a watchmaker, then it follows that living bodies have a divine designer. But Dawkins asserts this cannot be true, because Darwin has proved that living bodies exist because DNA makes it possible. It is this specific inductive argument of DNA survival which Dawkins uses to refute the idea of purposeful design.
We can infer here that Dawkins is interested in proving that what humans think they know about God is at best an illusion. At the end of the day, it is nature that rules. Conversely, we can look at St. Thomas Aquinas’s deductive argument in “King of the Bees” to understand his views on God. He sets forth a premise that the best way to govern is by kingship. Aquinas uses God as a primary source to support his argument. Specifically, Samuel 13:14, “The Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart” is cited to...


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...a certain purpose, but if we tried to reverse engineer an organism, we would fail. It cannot be understood in the same way, because we don’t know what it wants. To support the inference, Dawkins cites the example of a cheetah and a gazelle. On the one hand, the cheetah is made for killing the gazelle. Conversely, the gazelle is made for survival, which defeats the cheetah’s purpose. The logical induction is this cannot be God’s utility. Dawkins concludes this is the utility function of DNA and actually “explains the "purpose" of both the cheetah and the gazelle” (Dawkins, 1995). By inference, we conclude that nature is neutral and organisms just exist because they do. It sounds almost Zen.



Works Cited

Dawkins, R. (1995, November). God's Utility Function. Retrieved July 13, 2011, from http://www.godslasteraar.org/assets/ebooks/Dawkins_Gods_Utility_Function_sec.pdf

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