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Nature is to zoos as God is to churches.
Crake speaks these words to Jimmy in chapter 8 during a discussion about the moral implications of creating genetically modified animals like wolvogs. Students at Watson-Crick developed the wolvog, a hybrid dog–wolf creature whose friendly appearance conceals a dangerous ferocity. Jimmy worried that the creation of such animals crosses an ethical line. But Crake dismissed Jimmy’s concern as naïve, and he rejected the implicit distinction Jimmy made between the natural and the unnatural. Crake articulated his critique of Jimmy’s thinking in the cryptic analogy: “Nature is to zoos as God is to churches.” Crake, who was an atheist, believed that God is a human invention. He also believed that churches are institutions that exist to make the abstract idea of God seem concrete and real and thereby imprison people in false notions, such as the distinction between good and evil. Crake suggested a similar logic at work in “Nature” with a capital N. Similar to God, Nature is an abstract idea made to seem real through institutions like zoos. Just as a zoo imprisons animals, the concept of Nature is an ideological cage that imprisons people like Jimmy in a false distinction between the natural and the unnatural.