God's Utility Function
About the middle of chapter 4, Dawkins introduces the concept of God's
Utility Function as a way of putting the question of DNA activity into
terms that he has shown are meaningful for humans. But in doing so, he
seems, without noticing, to be falling into a trap of animism, of imputing
a purpose to the universe. I say he doesn't notice but, in fact, the
signs are there that he knows he has spawned a problem. Things go on
this way for a while, but then near the end of the chapter, he seems to
have reached a boiling point and he has to redeem his story by proclaiming
his adamant convictions that the universe is "pitilessly indifferent",
that genes don't care about suffering, that genes don't care about anything.
If nature were kind, she would at least make the minor concession of
anesthetizing caterpillars before they are eaten alive from within. But
nature is neither kind nor unkind. She is neither against suffering nor
for it. Nature is not interested one way or the other in suffering, unless
it affects the survival of the DNA.