The Blind Watchmaker

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Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, The Blind Watchmaker offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time.

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A brilliant and controversial book which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin - is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist? 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. A previous work, The Selfish Gene , appeared a year before molecular biologists discovered, to their surprise, that the sequence of most animal and plant genes is interrupted by other "selfish" sequences of genetic material DNA. These have to be edited out before the true genes can be read. Now we have The Blind Watchmaker. Why watchmaker?

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Why blind? The title is inspired by the treatise of the theologian William Paley entitled Nature Theology - of Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Diety Collected from the Appearances of Nature. Suppose one were wandering across a heath on some remote island and one stubbed one's toe. One looks down and sees a stone.

The Blind Watchmaker

Just a stone. One thinks little of it.

But suppose one looked down and saw a watch. One would recognize this as an entirely different category of object.

Another answer

If there is a watch, then there must have existed, at some place, at some time, a maker of that watch. No such similar conclusion seems necessary when noticing a stone upon the ground.


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A watch appears complex. A stone appears simple.

Blind watchmaker - Oxford Reference

One can conjure up plausible scenarios as to how natural forces led to the formation of the stone. It was, until Darwin's theory of evolution , much more difficult to understand how organisms with organs as complex and beautiful as the eye, could have come into existence. Richard Dawkins b. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice. Oxford Reference.

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