- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; 1st updated edition (29 Nov. 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140144811
- ISBN-13: 978-0140144819
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 195 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Blind Watchmaker Paperback – 29 Nov 1990
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A book which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection, discovered by Darwin, is the only answer to the question: why do we exist?
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This book is an extended explanation of why the appearance of design in the animal world is an illusion and how organised complexity can emerge from a sequence of cumulative, small changes via natural selection. Of course, most rational folk accept that evolution is as proven as a theory ever gets but it is a fascinating subject and one well worth knowing more about, even if only to counter the feeble attempts of the non-rational to contradict it.
Dawkins has an engaging, affable tone in the book, yet is easy to understand. The section on the development of echo-location in bats is one of the books high points, as is the discussion on why the African widow bird has a seemingly impractically long tail . The Blind Watchmaker is not without its faults, however. An entire chapter devoted to taxonomy seemed to have no relevance to the main narrative and I skim-read the chapter on a computer simulation of biomorphs as it was heavily repetitive and felt a bit tenuous as a model for evolution.
There are some surprising (to me) insights here. I had no idea that so little of the genetic information in our cells was actually used - apparently only about 1%. I did not know that the tripling in the size of the human brain was one of the fastest known evolutionary changes, taking a paltry three million years. Dawkins also skewers some common myths about evolution, pointing out, for example, that the entire theory of evolution would collapse in an instant, were a 500 million year-old fossilised mammalian skull to be discovered, refuting the creationist canard that evolution is an 'unfalsifiable' tautology.
Overall, this is an entertaining and informative read.
The writing style is simple, flowing and, from the first page, more captivating than the best written thrillers. The scientific theories are well explained, in a style that makes this elegant truth appear even simpler and clearer. While this book is nearly 20 years in print, the scientific thoughts expressed are still in date and valid.
Most people consider Selfish Gene, Dawkins best book, but I think the Blind Watchmaker is more deep and comprehensive besides making a more interesting read, and thats saying something considering the overwhelming success and critical approval the Selfish Gene has got.
This book presented me with the epiphanous moment, where I could clearly understand why evolution is so deeply corrosive to the concept of god. I would suggest this as an important read to all, as a pleasant read also as a elaboration of clear scientific thinking and arguments. It is invaluable to the students of science.
I also think every religious person, sceptical or stout should read this book, to either clear their doubts or to test their faith (I am sure if read with an open mind, faith would certainly not stand a chance).
I recommend this book to everyone, those who think they understand the theory of evolution by natural selection and those who don't, alike !
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