On the other hand, Dawkins’ forays into the popularization of evolutionary processes also made the zoologist the target of creationists and even a few biologists. In particular, his critics argue that if the gene is indeed “selfish”—that is, more important than the individual or the group in determining patterns of evolution—then what happens to such cherished driving forces as “the good of the species”?

In addition, Dawkins’s insistence on the primacy of genes to explain much of species’ behavior earned him the label “sociobiologist”—along with the displeasure of such left-leaning biologists as Harvard’s Stephen Jay Gould and the Open University’s Steven Rose. These critics charge that the ideas of Dawkins and Harvard entomologist E.O. Wilson, author of Sociobiology, imply that human foibles, such as aggression and war, are the inevitable result of genetic determination. Rose, for example, says that if Dawkins is right, women shouldn’t blame their “mates for sleeping...

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