Past EED rants


Live leaderboard

Poker leaderboard

Voice of EED

Tuesday 28 March 2006

The Blind Watchmaker [DrDave]

I was recently inspired by the excellent Channel 4 documentary The Root Of All Evil to pick up some Richard Dawkins books. Naturally, I had to pick up The Selfish Gene, but also went for The Blind Watchmaker as well.
The Selfish Gene, though very well written, turned out to be a little turgid and self involved. It is definitely required reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the field of Darwinism, but reads more like a science textbook than a piece of popular prose.
The Blind Watchmaker, on the other hand, is simply magnificent! In the decade or so between writing these books, Dawkins really seems to have mastered the art of popular science (that Hawkings and Bryson have also managed to great effect). His descriptions of the mechanisms involved are fueled by such passion and conviction that you can't help but read on. His demolition of popular anti-Darwinism arguments is so utterly watertight that you wonder why there is even any debate about this issue at all.
He describes endless cases of supposed "irreducible complexity" (the cornerstone of Intelligent Design) then calmly explains their existence in a way that is laughably simple and retrospectively obvious. Read his explanation of the eye's existence in Chapter 4 and I challenge you to find flaws in it or claim that the eye has any element of design in it!
Seriously, before I read this book, I was sold on evolution by natural selection, though I'm not entirely sure I grasped how self-evident it was. After reading it, however, I see it with a clarity that I never experienced before. Evolution by natural selection is one of those exceptionally rare theories that doesn't require formulae or maths to depict. It is so simple, so ridiculously straight forward, that you can describe it in the most elementary language. True, we may call it a theory, and technically in the true scientific sense of the word, it is, but I would place as much faith in it being fact as I would in the idea that objects fall down when dropped.
I used the word faith... silly me. This usually causes theists to frothingly claim that science is really a religion, with no more proof than the claim that God sits on a cloud and smites wrong doers. Well rubbish. This book shows how truly correct science can be, how some theories can be as close to fact as they can possibly ever get.

1 comment:

  1. Have a bit of read of if you want a chuckle