Dawkins writes that "the argument of this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes" (p.xxi) and that "We are survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes" (p.xxi). Yet, according to him, this book "is not science fiction; it is science" (p.xxi)!
Dawkins contrives to overlook the twin discoveries that:
1. the observable traits of organisms are mostly conditioned by the interactions of many genes;
2. most genes have multiple effects on many of these traits.
Dawkins transfers characteristics with which he is familiar from human behaviour on the macro-level to the inanimate components, "genes", of which we are physically constructed. He then proceeds to argue that these impersonal entities, which he imagines to possess characteristically human traits, infallibly generate the same unpleasant traits in human behaviour on the macro-level. So he writes: "The gene is the basic unit of selfishness" (p.36).
The absurdity is evident in that genes or other nonconscious entities cannot be either selfish or unselfish. They cannot "compete" against anything or "choose" anything.
If Dawkins were right, what would be the point of declaring, as he does: "Let us try to *teach* generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish" (p.3)? For if we really were machines, as he believes, even these very concepts would be meaningless to us. And certainly his oratory could have no effect whatever on our actual behaviour.
In fact genes do not force us to behave in any particular way. Neither can they possess the ability to direct or to comprehend all that is required to adopt a course of either heartless selfishness or heartfelt, sacrificial compassion.