The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design | Study Guide

Richard Dawkins

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Course Hero, "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design Study Guide," August 17, 2020, accessed September 24, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/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 | Symbols

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A Pocket Watch

The Blind Watchmaker's title refers to an idea proposed by William Paley (1743–1805). In the late 17th century, the pocket watch was one of the most advanced forms of technology. The people who designed and built pocket watches were highly skilled in creating small, complex things. Paley used the pocket watch as a metaphor for life. Much of life is small and complex, so there must be a designer. At the time many people believed that Paley's argument for God's existence was reasonable based on what they observed in nature.

To Dawkins and all evolutionary biologists, the watchmaker is not a thinking being but rather natural selection. Life best suited to the environment survives. As favorable genetic mutations accumulate over the generations, species evolve and break off from one another. Natural selection has no motive or end result in mind. That is why it is "blind."

A Boeing 747

The Boeing 747 was the first wide-body passenger aircraft. It took years of research and development to create, and each 747 contains over six million parts. The plane is the 20th-century version of the pocket watch, unimaginably complex and built to serve a purpose. Dawkins uses the plane as a symbol for what many people get wrong about evolution. To them it is just as impossible for humans to come from nothing as it is for a wind storm blowing through a junkyard to put together a 747. What these people misunderstand is that evolution uses numerous small improvements.

Another way that a Boeing 747 differs from life is that all its systems are top of the line. Life uses preexisting structures as a foundation for improvements. By discovering older structures in present-day lifeforms, people know they were not created in six days, as literal interpreters of the Biblical creation story claim.

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