Review: The Genius of Charles Darwin – Yay for big brains! Ergghh to Chimp Love!

August 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

The Genius of Charles Darwinr-dawkins.jpg

Channel 4, Monday 11th August, 8pm

Last night saw the second episode of Richard Dawkins’ love-fest of nineteenth century genius, Charles Darwin. This served largely as a way for Dawkins to ferociously dispel the unfounded links of his beloved Darwinism with the wicked off-shoot, Social Darwinism (the bloody awful ordering of society based on the survival of the fittest aka the kind of eugenics practised in Nazi Germany- essentially the prevention of the ‘degeneration of the race’ by stopping the weak procreating). This misconception being a particular niggle of his (Dawkins has been labelled a heartless man, who espouses a heartless theory), he here tries to say to his critics, “look, I’m just facing facts, but I’m a nice guy really.?

After a fairly unnerving start involving the raising of the possibility of human and chimp cross breeding, he spends the first half attempting to legitimise this topic and largely dashing the faith of his audience by chatting on about how there’s definitely no goal or grand scheme or anything. Nope, nature’s just a harsh b*tch, who doesn’t give a humans (ha!) about who survives but looks on from her evil watch tower cackling as those dutiful little genes sweat their DNA arses off to endure. Not a great deal of sympathy is given to individuals, no this gig is essentially about the bigger picture in which we are merely vehicles for our downright selfish genes. I especially enjoyed his stand off with the bishop, who clearly believes in human superiority and general body is the Temple of the Lord stuff, where Dawkins asks “Are you an ape??..err…awkwarrrddd…

It’s the second half where things get a little more hopeful. Darwinism doesn’t equal an excuse for racism, business or right wing politics. Full stop. What’s more, how can everyone be so darn nice these days if they’re merely vehicles? After a brief trip into the psychological evolution of morality and a visit to a Sperm Bank Manager, who informs him that kindness is actually a very popular trait among his sperm hungry mother-to-be clients, Dawkins concludes that altruism in our species has actually gone beyond self-interested mutual back scratching and kin selection. Our brains are so big now that we can merrily stick a big two fingers up at nature and her callous ways and live by our own values! This means that we can be nice if we think that’s important and live in a gentle society if we so desire! Yay!

I’m looking to the final instalment that promises more about our monkey roots. However, I must note, if Dawkins mentions Chimp Love again, I shall be forced to turn away and rock gently with my fingers in my ears. It’s not cool, Richard, ok?!

See when the next episode is on.

By Susan Allen