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"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones.,
This review is from: Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (Hardcover)
"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia."
George Steiner wrote that some sentences arrest our attention; Dawkins' opening sentences is one of them. In a chapter creatively entitled in a captivating metaphor "The Anaesthetic of the Familiar", turning common sense logic on its head for a second, he illustrates his ability to see the world from a different standpoint and write about it beautifully. Not many scientists are gifted with the ability to take complicated scientific theories and write about them in transparent, lucid language the person in the street wants to read and is able to.
Although there is some scholarly dispute about Keats "unweaving the rainbow" and the Romantics' views of science and what he actually meant about Newton, Dawkins shows that, far from making the world we inhabit less awe-inspiring and wonderful, science actually makes it more so. "For we are blissfully unaware of what a formidably clever thing we do every second of our waking lives when we see and recognize objects." (P 259)
After reading this, readers will be much more aware of, as Hamlet said:
"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals--and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust?"
"Hamlet", Act 2, scene 2, 303-312
Paraphrasing the next line, "All Man delights me -- / and woman too, and by your smiling you seem to say so" could have been written about Dawkins.
It is a great pity that Dawkins' later persona as the evangelising atheist is all that some people know of him; in his well-known Channel Four programmes, he really let himself and his arguments down, particularly in the first programme. This was a great shame. In person and in his lectures, he is much less formidable, more humorous and very affable; in this book and his lectures, he is a challenging intellect with a passion for making his profession as appealing and fascinating to everyone as it is to him.