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The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design | [Richard Dawkins]

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

The Blind Watchmaker, knowledgably narrated by author Richard Dawkins, is as prescient and timely a book as ever. The watchmaker belongs to the 18th-century theologian William Paley, who argued that just as a watch is too complicated and functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. Charles Darwin's brilliant discovery challenged the creationist arguments; but only Richard Dawkins could have written this elegant riposte.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Richard Dawkins and his wife, actor Lalla Ward, give a highly entertaining read of Dawkins's 1986 critique of creationism, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. The audiobook follows an updated edition of the book from 2006 and provides intricate explanations, by way of witty examples, of why random, infinitesimal gene changes over millions of years have produced us and the world we live in. Dawkins's writing contains a self-deprecating, dry sense of humor that comes to life as he reads his best-selling book. Alternating voices between Dawkins and Lalla Ward provides nice listening contrast while also setting apart examples, clarifications, and segments of greater detail. Dawkins and his wife live in a world that is perhaps more scientific on a daily basis than ours so the book takes great care to vary the delivery of information for greater emphasis and easy understanding.

Dawkins's goal in The Blind Watchmaker is to "remove by explaining" any doubt that anything but scientific fact is behind the origin of the universe. Just because something — like human beings or the universe — is complex does not mean that it cannot be explained. Dawkins works hard to help listeners understand the smaller-than-microscopic changes that evolved through staggering amounts of time, changes humans have a hard time intuitively comprehending. To paraphrase the author, do not draw conclusions from your own inability to understand something. The truth of Darwinism comes in its acceptance of physics, probability, and the unending march of time. Dawkins helps listeners out by using examples that are easier to grasp: for example, the evolution from wolves to domesticated dogs. Or how echo location in bats clearly shows the evolution of a trait necessary for survival of a species.

The Blind Watchmaker, read by the author and by Lalla Ward, is an example of an audiobook best listened to while not driving or operating anything requiring devoted attention. Dawkins calls upon us to think about complex concepts that are not necessarily part of daily life. Led by the author, The Blind Watchmkaer is a lively, humorous explanation of the seemingly mystical yet ultimately understandable maze of evolution that is our world. Along the way it is nice to know that a scientist such as Dawkins can, like us, forget to save information on his computer. Re-creation of his data simply leads to another example of probability and complexity that makes, as Dawkins reiterates, the circumstances of any of us being here surprisingly unique, but scientifically not unusual. —Carole Chouinard

Publisher's Summary

The Blind Watchmaker, knowledgably narrated by author Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward, is as prescient and timely a book as ever. The watchmaker belongs to the 18th-century theologian William Paley, who argued that just as a watch is too complicated and functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. Charles Darwin's brilliant discovery challenged the creationist arguments; but only Richard Dawkins could have written this elegant riposte. Natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially nonrandom process Darwin discovered - is the blind watchmaker in nature.

©1986, 1987, 1996 Richard Dawkins (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"As readable and vigorous a defense of Darwinism as has been published since 1859. (The Economist)

"The best general account of evolution I have read in recent years." (E. O. Wilson, Professor in Entomology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University)

“Dawkins’s explanation of the evolutionary process continues to be timely and revelatory…This dual reading is an interesting model for a scientific text. It helps to clarify and emphasize points… this is a commendable production, and an excellent primer on how evolution works.” (AudoFile)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jonathan Ner York, NY, United States 08-22-13
    Jonathan Ner York, NY, United States 08-22-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Evolution made clear"
    If you could sum up The Blind Watchmaker in three words, what would they be?

    susinict, thoughtful, and comprehensive


    Have you listened to any of Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes, all due respect to Prof. Dawkins, Lalla is one of the best voice performers I've heard since I started using audible.


    Any additional comments?

    The beginning (definition bit) is slow and requires your attention but the rest is great and makes every point clear and if not "easy" at least logical to understand.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DS 02-06-13
    DS 02-06-13 Member Since 2015

    Say something about yourself!

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    "GREAT LOGICAL READ"

    For all the creationists out there and for smart people who want a good read, this should be mandatory in high school science classes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 04-12-12
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 04-12-12 Member Since 2011

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

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    "Quality"
    What made the experience of listening to The Blind Watchmaker the most enjoyable?

    One of the great modern thinkers - straight from the horse's mouth


    What other book might you compare The Blind Watchmaker to and why?

    The Selfish Gene. No prizes for guessing why


    What about Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s performance did you like?

    Great narration. The switching added interest


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No, it was just sustained high quality


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    08-26-11
    08-26-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Heavy going but lots of information."

    I found Richard Dawkins' book very interesting but very heavy going for the 'lay-man'. It was swimming in scientific rhetoric and step by painful step analysis. All I wanted to do was cut to the chase! I will have to revisit the book again to be able to digest it further as my mind tended to fog over with the analysis of each minute detail. However I am glad I read it and am inspired to know more about the beginning of the world as we know it. I have long discarded the theory of "One god-like Being made the world in a week and then on Sunday he rested" One salient point was not touched - how the universe came into being in the first place?

    12 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Vancouver, BC, Canada 07-18-11
    Eric Vancouver, BC, Canada 07-18-11
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    "Book of Enlightment"

    Richard Dawkins deserved so much credit of my curious and confused mind. He is so brilliant that this audiobook once you start listening you just can't stop. Lalla Ward is splendid as Richard Dawkins. I love listening to her voice. But of course Richard Dawkins is unparallel.He is like listening to my High School teacher in Physics who is also from England. He has this teacher or professor sounding nice and kind voice.This book was well written and carefully scripted not to offend the creationist believers.
    It will go down in history as the 21st century, the Age of Enlightment. Like Charles Darwin when his Theory of Evolution was first published in 1859. I was 13 years old when I started questioning about our creator. I had few catholic missionary friends when I was 13 yo and started asking questions of our creator. I was never satisfied of their answers. They all seems to have the same answer.."Faith"...a blind faith. It took me over 40 years to realize that I should not feel guilty that there's no such thing as Intelligent Design. Finally, all these clouds in my mind are 100% clear now. There's no such thing as Intelliget Design (ID) fun intented :) Bravo to Sir Richard Dawkins!

    25 of 43 people found this review helpful
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    Gare&Sophia Alexandria, VA, United States 08-10-11
    Gare&Sophia Alexandria, VA, United States 08-10-11 Member Since 2012

    Private intellectual, writer, and retired academic. Currently R&D director for Gravitational Systems Engineering, Inc.

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    "Extremely informative, extremely dogmatic"

    As a student of historical religions, and science as religion I find Darwin extremely compelling, and logical. Dawkins on the other hand, has truly drunk the Kool-aid. I realize that the work is a bit dated, so some inaccuracies, for example his near ridicule of epi-genetics and Lemarkism, by focus on genes rather than switches. However, as a scientist I have learned that absolute certainty is only for mountebanks. I must say however, that I learned a lot, despite the fact that I have read most of Darwin's works, and many related texts. Unfortunately it is easy to get riled up by his everyone else is an idiot tone, and miss many of the startling insights of the work. I have a lot of respect for Mr.Dawkins, so I truly hope that this was more of a show than his true scientific point of view. And yet, all in all, I would recommend the book to all who have an interest.

    14 of 24 people found this review helpful
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    John Burke 05-17-15
    John Burke 05-17-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Good defense of Darwinism"

    Having recently travelled to the Galápagos Islands, I downloaded this audio to hear more about the academic arguments concerning evolution. Performance by both the author and his wife was very good although the material itself was quite dense and would not be appropriate for the casual reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Jason 04-13-15
    Jason 04-13-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A great update for Darwin's Origin of Species."

    Dawkins dose an excellent job explaining some of the more complex ideas and arguments of evolution. This book gives modern answers to modern questions that did not exist in Darwin's time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    qwertyuiop 04-06-15
    qwertyuiop 04-06-15
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    "Evolution accounts for the diversity of life."
    If you could sum up The Blind Watchmaker in three words, what would they be?

    Darwin's explanation succeeds.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Blind Watchmaker?

    I liked the chapter on sexual selection and the Peacock's tail. (I think it was this book. I get Dawkins's books confused, because I have read so many of them!)


    Any additional comments?

    Dawkins sets up by taking about William Paley's metaphor for life as a watch, requiring a watchmaker. Dawkins then talks about many seemingly unrelated subjects, all related to the complexity of life. Sexual selection, abiogenesis, the green beard effect, ect. These all culminate with Dawkins's conclusion that evolution is a blind watchmaker, working through the mechanisms he describes in the book, and capable of making complexity which appears designed. Although the title talks about revealing a "universe without design", Dawkins doesn't talk much about God.
    While I was listening to this book, I was reading a book for Honors Philosophy of God at school (I go to a catholic school and took an honors religion class, however I am an atheist). The book for the class was God: The Oldest Question, by William O'Malley. O'Malley is a catholic who believes in evolution, but also has room for intelligent design. O'Malley criticizes Carl Sagan's explanation of the evolution of eyes in Sagan's book, and mentions The Blind Watchmaker in a criticism of Dawkins. Reading O'Malley's book, I got the idea that he had not read Dawkins's book. The Blind Watchmaker eloquently explains the powerful explanatory process of evolution, and how inelegant a god who uses evolution with a few miracles interspersed is. I did read Dawkins's book, and I came away with a great reverence for the power of blind process of evolution to explain the staggering complexity of life on earth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Ken 03-31-15
    Ken 03-31-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Very good book, but.."

    This is a brilliant listen, however I very much wish it was only one speaker.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Adrian
    Tralee, Ireland
    11/14/13
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Some good analysis but lacks vision"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    The author is good at analyzing the work of other writers and is able to produce well though out arguments for or against each theory. However I found it frustrating that any of his own original concepts and examples were shallow and lacked imagination. In fact he falls into the traps he warns against. In many instances he extrapolates from what he sees on earth now and not from what all possibilities might produce. When he postulates on the existence of life on other planets he suggests that we should have received radio signals. This assumes that at some point in the evolution of life on another planet a human type brain is probable.
    I would recommend this book to people who are struggling with the concept of evolution. I would also recommend it to anyone who believes that life as we know it could only come about as a result of an all knowing entity.


    What will your next listen be?

    Not yet decided.


    What three words best describe Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s voice?

    Work well together


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Blind Watchmaker?

    I would change the name. Even a blind watchmaker will act with intent and yet he goes to great length to point out that evolution does not.

    I would remove any section of the book where the author attempts to extrapolate from the work of others to give us his beliefs on a topic.

    I would remove any of the statements he makes which make assumptions for the ability of human beings to understand a particular concept and ask the author to replace with "I find it difficult to imagine, understand, picture" or " some people find it difficult to ".

    From his attempts to draw conclusions on certain concepts it appears he is expressing his struggle to visualize and assuming everyone else has the same difficulty.


    Any additional comments?

    I agree with his analysis of the work of other authors.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
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