Richard Dawkins branches out by collaborating with Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish

CULTURE | Tess Holgate
Monday 13 April 2015

Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish have teamed up with Richard Dawkins to produce a new track, The Greatest Show on Earth.

The track is an epic in and of itself. The five-part, 24 minute track traces 4.6 million years of evolution, the formation of the universe and the planets, followed by bacteria, plants, animals and the birth of humans. It ends with the death of humankind.

Dawkins features on the track reading two sections from his book Unweaving the Rainbow. He reads, “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”

The Australian reports that Nightwish have a strong Christian fanbase in the US, some of whom are very upset at the collaboration. They quote lead singer of Nightwish, Tuomas Holopainen says it’s a strange state of affairs: “We are a rock band … Bring on drugs and alcohol and nobody cares, but bring on an evolutionary biologist and people are really afraid.”

Nightwish’s latest album – Endless Forms Most Beautiful – is inspired by Dawkins’ work.

Watch the film clip:

Image: Ville Akseli Juurikkala

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