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Evolution explained

February 13, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments


The Blind Watchmaker

by Richard Dawkins

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages. Since I became an atheist, really. It was recommended to me on Daily Kos after I made a remark about the origin of life being impossibly improbable. I was corrected and I then looked into other information, and here I am. That was at least three years ago or so and the book has been on my list ever since. I just hadn’t ever gotten around to reading it.

I don’t really have much to say about it. It’s a straightforward argument for natural selection as the explanation for adaptive complexity. Perhaps I shouldn’t say straightforward. Dawkins makes plenty of very clever arguments to support his point and does an excellent job of making his point. Dawkins is well known for his eloquence as a writer and this book doesn’t disappoint; there are passages where you just have to marvel at how perfectly he put something. There were those moments in The God Delusion, but he’s clearly better at writing about science than religion. Strangely enough, you would almost be tempted to think Dawkins has a fairly conciliatory attitude towards religion from this book. He uses Biblical analogies and examples somewhat frequently and not disparagingly. Maybe it’s just that I’ve come to associate exceedingly strident anti-religious beliefs with him and he deserves a little more credit. Then again, I say that about the book that has his most famous quote among creationists: “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

The above statement is quite obviously true, though. It’s also quite obviously not a statement that you have to be an atheist to believe in evolution, but that evolution doesn’t require the involvement of the supernatural. People are free to believe in whatever superfluous entities they wish. In any case, all this discussion of religion is not on topic. The book is a well written and readable defense of evolution. It’s worth a read, especially if you find yourself a little skeptical about evolution building some of the more amazing organisms in our world.

Categories: 26 in 52
  1. February 14, 2007 at 7:59 am

    I can’t say I’m surprised that his tone in this one isn’t as strident. This was, after all, his first book, if I’m not mistaken. He’s come a long way in 30 years.

  2. February 14, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    I think he has a couple older books (and TBW is only 20 years old). I guess it’s not too surprising, but I did find it interesting.

  3. February 21, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    I really enjoyed his first book The Selfish Gene.

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