The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As the title's extension spells out, this is a definitive (as of '87) rebuttal against all comers in favor of Darwinism, but don't let my saying so prove it. Read it for yourself.
All his arguments are crystal clear, but he takes extra time to caricature the caricature of Darwinists, pointing out exactly how the ad absurdum argument really works while also elucidating the fine points of what Darwinism IS versus what it is NOT.
He steps us through the first third of the book showing us how Selection works: from an energy standpoint, a competition standpoint, and a sexual standpoint... from the basic building blocks of proteins to more and more complex forms of DNA and the combo cells that collect all the wonderful multicellular creations, including bacteria, that eventually wind up creating us. The descriptions are quite beautiful and clear and all the while, we've got all the foundations for life... without Intelligent Design.
The argument is simple, of course. If we can explain everything, and I mean everything that is life and physics, then what purpose does adding a superfluous layer to the explanation serve?
This is ten years worth of hate mail for the author, people. He has been beset on all sides with genuinely curious and well-meaning seekers of the god-fearing sort and inundated with screaming lunatics telling him he'll burn in hell for his first book, The Selfish Gene, which, by the way, didn't really give a rat's ass about creationism or the people who support it. It just laid out a very cogent theory that fit all the copious mountains of data in biology. And yet, after that point, a Mr. Dawkins who professes not to want or need a PR team or lawyers, decides to put his foot down and tackle the problem that has reared its muti-angled head in his direction and DEFEND Darwinism.
He does so beautifully, I might add.
Every step of the way, he defines the complaints with due diligence and proceeds to demolish them sonar-producing batlike grace, with light humor, sharp intellect, and sometimes he makes of his opponents an overzealous meal.
Can you blame him? Granted, by this point it's only been a decade of Creationist hate. Give it a decade or a decade and a half more before we see a truly flame worthy attack from Mr.Dawkins. I'm looking forward to seeing some of it in his books. I hope it's there and not just in his interviews which I still haven't seen. Alas.
Seriously, though, this book is pretty wonderful for its lucid and quoteworthy passages and vivid descriptions of how Darwinism works, from gene level to the kinds of time-spans that can only be described as geological when it comes to real changes in evolution. I particularly loved the fact that he used computer terminology to describe how our genes are nothing more than complex computers. I've heard this before, of course, but the way he laid it out was particularly enlightening.
This stuff is pretty damn great. Just from the science viewpoint, even leaving out the whole defense, it's well worth reading and not nearly as acerbic or rabid as certain other mass-produced troll-attacks make him appear. But then again, I've only read one of his later books, the The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True, which was just a charming bi-modal description of science versus magical thinking which also happened to "gently" draw people away from having to add that extra layer of explanation to reality. :) I guess I'll see what the other books bring, no?
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