The Philosophical Dawkins

Developing the Metaphysical Ideas of Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins deserves more philosophical attention. It is unfortunate that he is dismissed either as merely a popularizer or a village atheist. A careful study of his texts shows that he discusses a wide range of philosophical issues. His writings reveal an intriguing philosophical system in which ideas of computation and complexity play central roles. Simpler atoms evolve into more complex atoms; simpler molecules evolve into more complex molecules; simpler organisms into more complex organisms; and simpler technologies into more complex technologies. All complex things are produced by evolutionary algorithms. So what about complex universes? Here Dawkins strangely fails to develop his own arguments. When those arguments are developed, the result is a truly universal evolutionary theory. Since universes are complex, the Dawkinsian account of complexity entails that they evolved. An extensive study of the Dawkinsian texts supports the idea that all complexity has a computational basis, and ultimate rests on purely mathematical foundations. The ultimate engines of evolution are cosmic computing machines. They resemble asexually reproducing and recursively self-upgrading computers. Besides cosmology, Dawkinsian metaphysics has much to say about the nature and destiny of human animals. Dawkinsian metaphysics supports an intriguing new type of evolutionary lifestyle, which includes nontheistic religious and spiritual practices. These new practices are already socially challenging the theistic religions.