Book Review: The Blind Watchmaker

Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker. New York, W.W. Norton, 1986, 332 pages.

"We animals are the most complicated things in the known universe," begins Dawkins; this great complication and complexity calls for explanation; and only Darwinian natural selection--the "blind watchmaker"--is capable of doing the job. One of Dawkins's main goals with this book is frankly polemical, or persuasive:

I want to persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian worldview happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence.
These are strong claims, and they deserve a careful, critical response. Dawkins spars with creationists and theories of creation throughout this book, and we should answer him. For instance, what do his computer simulations (in chapters 3 and 4) really demonstrate? Adaptation and evolution, or just clever but biologically meaning less programming tricks? How did bats (his opening example) evolve, anyway? Why does the chapter on the origin of life (no. 6) sound suspiciously like special pleading? And so on. Dawkins writes with admirable clarity, and is refreshingly, even bluntly, honest about his intentions.
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