The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design

by Richard Dawkins


$17.06 $18.95 Save 10% Current price is $17.06, Original price is $18.95. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, July 19


Richard Dawkins’s classic remains the definitive argument for our modern understanding of evolution.

The Blind Watchmaker is the seminal text for understanding evolution today. In the eighteenth century, theologian William Paley developed a famous metaphor for creationism: that of the skilled watchmaker. In The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins crafts an elegant riposte to show that the complex process of Darwinian natural selection is unconscious and automatic. If natural selection can be said to play the role of a watchmaker in nature, it is a blind one—working without foresight or purpose.

In an eloquent, uniquely persuasive account of the theory of natural selection, Dawkins illustrates how simple organisms slowly change over time to create a world of enormous complexity, diversity, and beauty.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393351491
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/28/2015
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 165,260
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Understanding of Science at Oxford University, and is the author of The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, and many other books.

What People are Saying About This

John Maynard Smith

Dawkins has done more than anyone else now writing to make evolutionary biology comprehensible and acceptable to a general audience.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Blind Watchmaker 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Published ten years after The Selfish Gene, this book is just as enlightening and entertaining as that first book by Dawkins. More examples of evolution in the natural world, and more evidence that evolution has indeed shaped the diversity of living things, past and present, on the earth. Very well written, it's a pleasure to read. One criticism of this and especially The Selfish Gene: Dawkins seems to think that there's no or very little selection at the level of the group, and that natural selection takes place at the level of the individual or even his or her DNA. However, I think it's clear that there is a good deal of selective pressure at the level of the group or tribe, and even to some degree at the level of the entire species. If a group of animals dies, that includes every member of the group, so it stands to reason that there should be some selection at the level of the group, even if that selection runs counter to the immediate goals of the individual within that group. In spite of this criticism, any curious person should give this, and The Selfish Gene, a read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an outstanding refutation of 'Intelligent Design', a religious pseudo-science masquerading as true science. Dawkins shows the logical fallacies and innumeracy at the base thereof. Very readable - more so than his masterwork 'The Selfish Gene'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dawkins is amazing at explaining things in simple english. This books isn't only about evolution but more important is about it's process which is natural selection.
BillRingle More than 1 year ago
This is an important book to anyone who wants to understand how life works. I found it readable and comprehensible. I picked it up because it is referenced in other books I've read. I placed it on my "100 Book List" My subjective list of the 100 books I think everyone should read in their lifetime.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, together with The Selfish Gene, by the same author, are the best two books I ever read. After reading this book, you will understand for example that the concept of species is not well founded, it makes no sense at all, because the boundaries between species are indeed arbitrary. Species is a continuous variable, and we are able to tell one species from another just because the intermediate ancestors between them are dead. If this weren't the case, our society would be totally different: we would not grant social rights to humans alone, because there would be a continuous fade between apes and humans, as there really was in the past. In other words, the evidence for evolution would make this thing ridiculous. As Dawkins himself explains very well in the selfish Gene, this belief, shared by creationists, Catholics, Christians, etc, is nothing more than racism. This book is a miracle. It nearly moved me to tears. Together with the other great book from Dawkins, the selfish Gene, it is a must read. I dare say everyone should be morally obliged to do so; everyone should know which are the mechanisms of the world, in order to think better and to act better socially. I think this book is better read after the selfish Gene, but many others do not think so. IT is a lot easier to follow that the selfish genes. Anyone could read it. Dawkins is unparalleled in explaining things clearly. Perhaps this book is slightly more obvious than the selfish Gene if you are already in the matter, but it is addressed to different groups of people.:-) If you are interested (and you morally should ) in how evolution really works, the final chapter of the book is a real gem: it explains many misunderstandings on the theory, misunderstandings that everybody has still today. For example, the communication between the body and the DNA is strictly unidirectional: than this, no matter how strongly you become during a life, no matter how much you learn, your son will inherit nothing of all this. The reason for this is simple, once you understand that the bodies are just machines used by DNA in order to preserve itself inaltered. In other words, DNA is a ¿recipe¿ to create bodies, not a ¿blueprint¿. Once the bodies are created, what happens to them does not modify the recipe, because there would be no easy mechanical method to do this. For example, if a cake is made from a recipe, and later one slice is eaten, the recipe cannot be modified (in a simple mechanical way) in order to create a cake with one slice already eaten! If DNA were not a recipe, but a blueprint, every single part of the body would be easily indentified in the blueprint, so the blueprint COULD be modified to reflect the changes in the body. But that simply doesn¿t happen in nature. Dawkins explains why it CANNOT happen: if DNA were a blueprint evolution could not work. The reason is that our children would tend to inherit ALL changes of the body, even the worsenings, so they would be soon destroyed. I have been very simplistic on this; read the book. :-) Dawkins also answers to ¿group selectionists¿: this people - if they still exist - think that the animals (and us) act for the welfare of the species: Dawkins clearly proves that this is absurd: trees in a forest are all equally tall, very tall. If they really acted for the welfare of the species, they would be equally short, because it would be cheaper. The reason why they are not equally short is that the state of being equally short is not a stable state: it is highly probable that a mutant individual who is slightly taller would get more sun, so he would have more descendants, and eventually the forest would be once again full of trees all equally high, slightly higher than before. That process would endlessly repeat, until the disadvantages begin to overweight the advantages , so the population stands still at the same height. So we can learn that, in nature, individuals act for their immediate adva
bclark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I do not have a lot to add that hasn't already been said in the existing Library Thing reviews. Let me just say this. If you haven't read The Selfish Gene, bypass this one and read it instead. If you've read The Selfish Gene and found it difficult, then try this one.
Designoid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I cannot think of any other book which so effectively demonstrates the real meaning of evolution. So simple and elegant.
ppendharkar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dawkins does science very well. Love his books on science.
smitkevi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was in no way Dawkins' best work primarily due to an occasional lack of the clarity I'm used to seeing from him. The other problem that really nagged at me throughout was a tendency to hammer at points that were sufficiently banged in. Mr. (or Mrs.) editor, please bring your A game next time. Thank you.
inancgumus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
it's an enlightening, eye opening book. if you are far away from evolution topics or find the topics ridiculous because it's such a shame even think about how are the complex living beings around us coming into existence without a hand of a creator only just by nature; Then you should read this book. It will definitely give you another soul.
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dawkin's answer to Paley's watchmaker; a thorough refutation of creationism and intelligent design by demonstrating just exactly how blind the watchmaker would have to be.
yapete on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dawkins is one of my favorite science writers and this one is an absolute classic and must-read.
stefano on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent exposition of the main concepts and consequences of the theory of evolution. Although this does in no way detract from the quality of the book, it is a little curious to see how preoccupied Dawkins seems to be with the critics of evolution. In this respect, his book is structured in the grand manner of an Apology. One thing that I would have liked in a book like this (but maybe Dawkins will write another one) is a sense of what are considered to be the open problems in the theory of evolution, i.e. those spots (which exists in every discipline) where even the best informed scientists have to admit that there are things that we don't understand or seem conflicting.
cwhouston on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For me, this book was preaching to the converted - I have a good understanding of evolution and can't see how any reasonable scientist could argue with the position spelled out by Dawkins in this book. However, I cannot agree at all that he is good at communicating these ideas - his writing and arguments are laboured, convoluted and actually rather confusing. In particular, the description of molecular genetics is awful and without extensive prior knowledge of this I would have to have read the (albeit limited - see below) coverage of this area many times over to understand it.I personally found reading the author's smug or arrogant criticisms of others in his field or opponents amusing - perhaps others might not. The problem for the 'Blind Watchmaker' is that this often appears to be the author's primary objective, rather than explaining evolution - hence my challenge that it is not balanced. In my opinion, this comes at the expense of far too little coverage of recombination, evolution of social behaviour or basic Mendelian genetics, just to name a few areas fundamental to understanding evolution that are either not covered well or at all.In summary, this book might have been better co-authored with a molecular geneticist and an animal behaviourist. The content of the 'Blind Watchmaker' is narrow in scope and not well written. I have `God Delusion' on my shelf and I shall now be selling rather than reading it.
jaemaree on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i'm not finished with it, but this book is really helping to educate me on the pitfalls when sorting out good science in evolution and just feelings (the same goes for the more contemporary christian biases we find rampant not only around us here in the south but also in my humble background)
miketroll on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A marvellously lucid introduction to Darwinian evolution, already a classic. Dawkins carefully dismantles the illusion of intelligent design in the universe. A favourite creationist image is the turtle on the gatepost. ("Don't tell me someone didn't put it there!") The analogy is false: the universe is run by the laws of physics - the blind watchmaker of the title.
mptpro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a demonstration of science and reason. If one doesn't *believe* in the power of natural selection after reading this book, then that person is not rational.There is an old saying among empiricists... "a fact is something that even your enemy has to agree with." Evolution is a fact. Remember, the word "theory" has a different meaning in science than it does in the vernacular. In science, EVERYTHING is a theory. Even gravity. For something to be a theory it has to already be very mature and just shy of utterly provable.Anyway, TBW does a tremendous job of make the RATIONAL case for Darwinism. It appeals to those who think rationally, not emotionally.TBW is a bit technical so you can't "space out: while reading - you must think and engage your mind, and it is well worth it.Dawkings makes the case that Darwinism is not only a viable explanation for the advanced species that walk the earth, but it is the ONLY explanation.The three main points (there are others) that I picked up are:1) the immense amount of time that natural selection (Darwinism) takes. 30,000 million years, for example, is considered a "flicker"!2) Natural Selection consists of many, many (thousands) of very small incremental steps. Very many. And very small. The complexity of the eye, for example, did not evolve from bar skin to eye in one step!3) Natural selection also fails. There are many animals, and entire species, that didn't make it! But, the only we thing that we see today are the ones that made it - so we think "wow, how amazing this all is!". Of course, all we CAN see are the species that made it, which are by definition, the amazing sophisticated creatures.
maryh10000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disappointing. Most of the book sets up strawman arguments. Finally, in the last chapter (or maybe, actually, an appendix), he brings up the argument that nothing he's said precludes God being involved in the ongoing process of evolution. Well, yes. *That's* the argument I thought the whole book was trying to make!
pod on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book.Not easy for people with no knowledge in evolutionism theories, but not impossible to read and clearly understand it.Clear sentences and 'light' approach (considering the difficult toopic) of exposure. Brilliant way of argumentating.I've enjoyed the most the first half of the book, in which Dawkins tries to explain how in practical the evolution/mutation of the species happen.I've found the last chapters (the comparisons between different theories of evolution) to be a little bit more difficult to follow.Surely reading it is worthwhile the effort
bduguid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This must be one of the classic books explaining modern evolutionary theory to a popular audience. What Dawkins offers is an ability to articulate his impeccable logic in ways that render often slightly subtle concepts easy to understand."The Blind Watchmaker" is very much a companion to "Climbing Mount Improbable". Both seek to explain how Darwin's theory of natural selection can explain what appears to highly improbably complexity in nature. "Watchmaker" is particularly insistent that not only does natural selection explain it, it's the only explanation that we have.In the current climate, with opponents of science becoming ever more-vocal, the book retains its power in explaining key parts of evolutionary theory, and simultaneously debunking any alternatives and refuting common criticisms.It starts by demonstrating quite what is improbable and complex about nature, using the sonar of bats as an example of a system that appears so well-refined as to be the product of design. Chapters go on to discuss the accumulation and selection of small changes in the genome, the role of DNA in replication, the possible origins of life and sexual selection.Attacks on alternative theories include a detailed commentary on Eldredge and Gould's "punctuationism", disputes in taxonomy, and everything from Lamarckism to creationism. Sometimes there's a sense that Dawkins is fighting battles with scientific colleagues that would be better left to the specialist reader, but personally I found these squabbles helped illuminate the wider subject.There's very little here on the evidence that evolution has occurred, whether from genetics or palaeontology. "Watchmaker's" territory is to explain how it has occurred, and why only natural selection can explain the complexity of life.
dwellNC More than 1 year ago
Excellent book on evolution. The evidence is overwhelming. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Richard Dawkins explains evolution in a simple and reliable way, this book is essential and extremely important for teenagers and  young adults because it basically explains the way in which life works. Although the theme seems to be scientific and intellectual; I found it to be readable and very comprehensible. (Alejandro)
JessLucy More than 1 year ago
Brilliant beyond description! (Although I have doubt whatsoever that Dawkins himself could do the description justice, ha!) The author clearly and thoroughly explains how and why natural selection works in a very comprehensible fashion. His writing is superb and his subject matter is thoroughly researched and highly thought-provoking. I fully believe that any religious person who reads this book (or any of Dawkins’ books) and understands it will begin to have major doubts. I would highly recommend this book as well as everything by Richard Dawkins and also God or Godless by John Loftus/Randal Rauser.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago