Blind Watchmaker (Penguin Press Science)

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9780140291223: Blind Watchmaker (Penguin Press Science)

From the author of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker has been acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution in the last hundred years. In 1802 the Rev. William Paley's argued in Natural Theology that just as finding a watch would lead you to conclude that a watchmaker must exist, the complexity of living organisms proves that a Creator exists. Not so, says Richard Dawkins, and in this brilliant and controversial book, the acclaimed evolutionary biologist sets out to demonstrate that the theory of evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially non-random process discovered by Charles Darwin - is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist? 'I want to persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence' To Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker is nature itself, gradually forming order from the very building-blocks of life: DNA. 'This might just be the most important evolution book since Darwin'
  John Gribbin 'Richard Dawkins has updated evolution ... his subject is nothing less than the meaning of life'
  The Times 'Enchantingly witty and persusive ... pleasurably intelligible to the scientifically illiterate'
  Observer Richard Dawkins is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature, and Vice President of the British Humanist Association. He was first catapulted to fame with The Selfish Gene, which he followed with a string of bestselling books: The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Unweaving the Rainbow, and an impassioned defence of atheism, The God Delusion.

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Review:

Richard Dawkins is not a shy man. Edward Larson's research shows that most scientists today are not formally religious, but Dawkins is an in-your-face atheist in the witty British style:

I want to persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence.

The title of this 1986 work, Dawkins's second book, refers to the Rev. William Paley's 1802 work, Natural Theology, which argued that just as finding a watch would lead you to conclude that a watchmaker must exist, the complexity of living organisms proves that a Creator exists. Not so, says Dawkins: "All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way... it is the blind watchmaker."

Dawkins is a hard-core scientist: he doesn't just tell you what is so, he shows you how to find out for yourself. For this book, he wrote Biomorph, one of the first artificial life programs. You can check Dawkins's results on your own Mac or PC.

From the Back Cover:

The watchmaker belongs to the eighteenth-century theologian William Paley, who made one of the most famous creationist arguments: Just as a watch is too complicated and too functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. It was Charles Darwin's brilliant discovery that put the lie to these arguments. But only Richard Dawkins could have written this eloquent riposte to the creationists. Natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially nonrandom process that Darwin discovered - has no purpose in mind. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker. Acclaimed as perhaps the most influential work on evolution written in this century, The Blind Watchmaker offers an engaging and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time.

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