THE BLIND WATCHMAKER by Richard Dawkins

THE BLIND WATCHMAKER

Why The Evidence Of Evolution Reveals A Universe Without Design
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A zoologist/author (The Selfish Gene) defends Darwin with passion and elegance, but fails to wholly persuade. Troubled by the persistent resistance to orthodox Darwinism from creationists, revisionist scientists, and the general public, Dawkins sets out to show how Darwin provided "the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence." He begins by identifying three sources for the resistance: a misunderstanding of evolution's randomness; a misperception of the enormous time span within which evolution has worked; and humanity's propensity to presume conscious design behind every complex object (hence the title). Through computer calculations, a lucid discussion of the nature of chance, and an insistence on a new sense of time scale, Dawkins makes his case for nature's complexity as the inevitable result of an untold number of minute, random mutations interacting over an almost unimaginable length of time. He argues particularly against the punctuated equilibrium theories so popular among today's evolutionists. But in stating that ". . .all mammals--humans, whales, duck-billed platypuses, and the rest--are exactly equally close to fish, since all mammals are linked to fish via the same common ancestor," he unwittingly exposes his defense's Achilles' heel: humans are reading this book, not platypuses. Dawkins' argument, brilliantly rendered, is that of the zoologist only, dealing solely with physical form; nowhere does the author tackle the mind, a phenomenon perhaps not quite so easily attributed to randomness, and nowhere does he convincingly demonstrate that random evolution is the only viable explanation. A superb exposition of Darwinian theory, but one that misses its aim of laying to rest the perennial doubts about how, exactly, our world came to be.
Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 1986
ISBN: 0393315703
Page count: 386pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1986




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