Title: The Blind Watchmaker
Author: Richard Dawkins
Page Count/Review Word Count: 350
This book has been on my TBR pile for a while, but I finally picked it up as my bedside book and quickly got hooked. Even though it’s a non-fiction science book about evolution, and even though it gets kind of dry times, it was a delight.
Of course, it felt a little outdated at times because Dawkins talked about some computer software he’d created which used a 1989 Apple Macintosh, but it was only the technology that was old. The concepts themselves still hold up today, and while it’s hard for me to pinpoint any specific part of the book that stood out to me, I do feel as though my understanding of evolution as a whole has been dramatically improved.
That’s because Dawkins basically takes all of the arguments against evolution and systematically debunks them, in the same way that he railed against religion in The God Delusion. The Blind Watchmaker is used as an analogy for the way that evolution can build complex physical mechanisms without requiring a designer. So in evolutionary terms, if a watch was a living animal then it could evolve piece by piece over time without requiring a watchmaker (such as an omnipotent god) to design it.
For example, some people will point to eyes and say that you can’t have half an eye and therefore they must have been designed. Dawkins points out that that’s not how eyes developed. It’s easy to see how just having the ability to tell the difference between light and darkness, for example, could make a big difference to an animal’s survival rates. And if the animal is more likely to survive then it’s more likely to pass its genes on.
It’s all fascinating stuff, but it’s not necessarily easy reading. It’s the kind of book that forces you to think, but I like books like that and I’m looking forward to continuing to read through Dawkins’ back catalogue. I always learn something new from his books.