The Dawkins Evolution
David B. Hart
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
by Richard Dawkins
Free Press, 480 pages, $30
The first lesson to be learned from Richard Dawkins’ new book is a purely practical maxim: One should always do what one does best, while scrupulously avoiding those tasks for which neither nature nor tuition has equipped one. This is not, obviously, what one could call a moral counsel; it is merely a counsel of prudence. Another way of saying it would be, try not to make a fool of yourself. Of course, folly is something of a relative judgment. It is often the case, especially in the world of publishing, that the most lucrative course is to do things very, very badly. The richest novelists tend to be those who cannot write; and the more poorly they write, the richer they are likely to become. The most successful purveyors of popular history, popular political polemic, popular religion, popular philosophy, popular atheism—and so on—are those who know only as much about their subjects as is necessary to make a stir and absolutely nothing more. And one has to concede that no other book by Richard Dawkins has sold nearly as well as The God Delusion, his majestically maladroit adventure in the realm of abstract ideas. So, weighing things solely in the balances of financial gain, one should perhaps not be too captious regarding his recent publications on the God question.