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Blind Watchmaker Paperback – Apr 25 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK (April 25 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141026162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141026169
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 281 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Richard Dawkins is not a shy man. Edward Larson's research shows that most scientists today are not formally religious, but Dawkins is an in-your-face atheist in the witty British style:

I want to persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence.

The title of this 1986 work, Dawkins's second book, refers to the Rev. William Paley's 1802 work, Natural Theology, which argued that just as finding a watch would lead you to conclude that a watchmaker must exist, the complexity of living organisms proves that a Creator exists. Not so, says Dawkins: "All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way... it is the blind watchmaker."

Dawkins is a hard-core scientist: he doesn't just tell you what is so, he shows you how to find out for yourself. For this book, he wrote Biomorph, one of the first artificial life programs. You can check Dawkins's results on your own Mac or PC. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Oxford zoologist Dawkins (The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype trumpets his thesis in his subtitlealmost guarantee enough that his book will stir controversy. Simply put, he has responded head-on to the argument-by-design most notably made by the 18th century theologian William Paley that the universe, like a watch in its complexity, needed, in effect, a watchmaker to design it. Hewing to Darwin's fundamental (his opponents might say fundamentalist) message, Dawkins sums up: "The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the evolution of organized complexity." Avoiding an arrogant tone despite his up-front convictions, he takes pains to explain carefully, from various sides, why even such esteemed scientists as Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould, with their "punctuated equilibrium" thesis, are actually gradualists like Darwin himself in their evolutionary views. Dawkins is difficult reading as he describes his computer models of evolutionary possibilities. But, as he draws on his zoological background, emphasizing recent genetic techniques, he can be as engrossing as he is cogent and convincing. His concept of "taming chance" by breaking down the "very improbable into less improbable small components" is daring neo-Darwinism. Line drawings.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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We animals are the most complicated things in the known universe. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Fitzgerald on Dec 1 2007
Format: Paperback
Published ten years after The Selfish Gene, this book is just as enlightening and entertaining as that first book by Dawkins. More examples of evolution in the natural world, and more evidence that evolution has indeed shaped the diversity of living things, past and present, on the earth. Very well written, it's a pleasure to read. One criticism of this and especially The Selfish Gene: Dawkins seems to think that there's no or very little selection at the level of the group, and that natural selection takes place at the level of the individual or even his or her DNA. However, I think it's clear that there is a good deal of selective pressure at the level of the group or tribe, and even to some degree at the level of the entire species. If a group of animals dies, that includes every member of the group, so it stands to reason that there should be some selection at the level of the group, even if that selection runs counter to the immediate goals of the individual within that group. In spite of this criticism, any curious person should give this, and The Selfish Gene, a read. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Rekve on June 5 2007
Format: Paperback
The book also goes over and debunks many of the things creationists say prove that the theory evolution is either impossible or just made up garbage. They include the argument of the evolution of the eye or the wing, they say what is the use of a half a functioning eye or wing., Dawkins then goes on to explain that they probably started as much similar organs in the case of the eye we can look at simpler organisms like planaria have eye-like organs called “eye spots” that are used to detect the intensity of light, and with the wing it is much easier to explain the need for a “half a wing” using the example of the Archaeopteryx which is believed to be the link of reptiles and birds, and it had almost wing like appendages that would have most likely evolved into the complex wing structure shared by the Aves class. Dawkins also shows the reader the striking resemblance of past arguments for evolution, he goes over the story of how when Moss’s team first discovered that bats could possible use radar for navigation, when the scientific community first heard of they were shocked because the use of radar technology were still top secret due to its use in the war. Scientists found it mind boggling that something they had just recently discovered could have been used by a lesser life form for thousands of thousands of years, but eventually upon looking closer the scientific community realized that this was in fact more probably then they previous thought, since the bat has relatively bad eye sight so they needed to develop a way to navigate during the night so the use of radar becomes much more reasonable.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Boyce on Aug. 24 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a good book for the general public, but for those with a four year degree in Biology or who are well read in the life sciences, it is not particularily stimulating. It does well covering the basics of biological evolution, and it affectively addresses the conventional creationist arguments, but I don't think this book demonstrates in the end what it seeks to establish.
I strongly recommend another book by Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene", a book which presents a very useful paradigm for viewing the biological world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 2 2004
Format: Paperback
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This book (first published in 1986) by Richard Dawkins (born: 1941) explains and "fine-tunes" for the general but educated reader Charles Darwin's (1809-1882) Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.
This is not a definitive guide to evolutionary theory and the author explains this immediately: "This book is not a dispassionate scientific treatise. Other books on Darwinism [that is, Darwin's Theory of Evolution] are, and many of them...should be read in conjunction with this [book]."
What are the purposes and aims of this book? They are numerous and some are as follows:
(1) "To convey...the sheer wonder [or mystery] of biological complexity to those whose eyes have not been opened to it."
(2) "To remove [the mystery of (1) above]...by explaining the solution."
(3) "To persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence."
(4) "To destroy [the]...myth that Darwinism is a theory of [random or blind] 'chance'."
(5) To help readers make the "leap" in logic that "complex [biological] 'design' [can] arise out of primeval simplicity" and that this complex design is not due to a "supernatural deity."
(6) "To resolve the paradox" that even though natural selection appears to have an ultimate goal (like a watchmaker whose goal is to make a working watch), it, in fact, does not. That is, "natural selection is the blind watchmaker."
(7) To help the reader answer questions like the following: "Could the human eye have arisen directly from no eye at all, in a single step?" or "Could the human eye have arisen directly from something slightly different from itself?
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