My friend Anne Barbeau Gardiner writes in the last issue of the New Oxford Review about an article by Richard Dawkins, published in the English newspaper The Guardian in 2009, on the ramifications of creating a human-chimpanzee hybrid. It offers the usual anti-humanist dream. In the article, she writes,
Dawkins speaks disparagingly of the “minds of many confused people” who insist on calling the human zygote “sacred.” He attacks those who “assume, largely without question or serious discussion, that the division between human and ‘animal’ is absolute.” To show how enlightened he is compared to those “deeply unevolutionary” folks, Dawkins offers the following image of ultimate bliss:
If there were a heaven in which all the animals who ever lived could frolic, we would find an interbreeding continuum between every species and every other. For example I could interbreed with a female who could interbreed with a male who could . . . fill in a few gaps, probably not very many in this case . . . who could interbreed with a chimpanzee. We could construct longer, but still unbroken chains of interbreeding individuals to connect a human with a warthog, a kangaroo, a catfish. This is not a matter of speculative conjecture; it necessarily follows from the fact of evolution. (ellipses in original)
I’m not sure what he thinks he’s saying here, but . . . gosh. As an image of Heaven . . . as I say, gosh. I’d think even the greatest most avid fornicator would find a vision of Heaven as endless copulation a bit frightening. You think he’d realize that at some point he’d be pleading to have the chance to drink some tea or read a book or just sit on a chair outside and stare at the sky.
Dawkins, interestingly, doesn’t conceive of himself interbreeding with a chimpanzee. That he leaves for someone else several stages down the continuum.
Update: That last paragraph was a cheap shot, thrown off unthinkingly as I was finishing the item, and I apologize for it.