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
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.
"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)
"Compares many other theories to Darwinian cumulative natural selection showing why they fall short."
Very detailed. I enjoy listening to Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward. In a 15 hour book, it probably helps keep it auditorily interesting to have two voices.
I have no extensive science background and didn't study biology in school so have been trying to catch up as an adult. This book has so much detail I would not recommend it as a starter volume on evolution. But if you've read a few other books first or have a background in biology, it's very good. Also good to watch his The Blind Watchmaker videos on YouTube first.
I recommend Dawkins's The Selfish Gene and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True.
Dawkins is a terrific proponent for the thrill of philosophical scientific enquiry. A romp of a good read!
Gary R. Beddingfield
Not one of my favorites by Richard Dawkins. Followed and understood almost all of the book fairly easy. To me, the book felt like I have heard it before, maybe, because of The Selfish Gene.
While I think this text may be mildly offensive to fundamentalist theologians, it was highly instructive and a pleasure to listen to. It's easy to understand and has numerous easily digestible examples that do not lose quality for lack of visual aid. As a teacher of intro biology I've used a number of the examples from this text to great effect. I will likely read this again.
The Blind Watchmaker is a very thorough explanation of the ideas behind evolution. Very clearly explained.
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.
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.
Darwin's explanation succeeds.
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!)
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.
"Read the Selfish Gene instead"
The Blind Watchmaker is an interesting listen. As with the Selfish Gene, the duo of Dawkins and Lalla Ward makes for excellent narration. It covers a great deal of interesting material, and if you haven't listened to the Selfish Gene, I recommend it.
The premise of the book is a rebuttal of the Watchmaker argument for an intelligent designer. The theory of evolution itself is an excellent rebuttal of most of this argument, so I was hoping this book might concentrate on the principal weakness of arguments for life without design: the origin of life. Instead, this is covered in a part of one chapter, and in no great depth. I was left disappointed.
The Selfish Gene is an excellent introduction to evolution, and mostly covers the same topics as Blind Watchmaker. The Blind Watchmaker has more examples, but they're really going over much the same ground.
"Sparkling with life!"
This is a wonderful audiobook, literary full of wonder at the ingenuity of nature. It brought back memories for me as a student of being similarly stunned reading "The Selfish Gene". Early on in this book, Dawkins declares that he prefers the miraculous wonderment of William Paley, to the atheist who cannot see that anything needs explanation about the origins of complex life.
Yet, in "The Blind Watchmaker", he makes the case with brilliant clarity, that the process that has given rise to the creative diversity and seeming design in nature is as much a physical nonrandom process as the sifting of pebbles from sand on a beach. This book explains the principles of Evolution with sparkling clarity.
The audiobook version is read alternately by Richard Dawkins and his wife, Lalla Ward, and initially I found this change odd. However, within a chapter, I came to enjoy the conterpoint of male and female reading voices. It was kind of soothing, and a great innovation. I look forward to other audiobooks being read in this way.. One effect of this was a feeling of familiarity with the author. I came to admire his quest for the Truth, and his contempt for those who would fudge the difficult questions and the evidence to preserve their old beliefs.
And so, there is the unavoidable "G" question. Paley's God is clearly shown by Dawkins to be as redundant to the process of evolution, as to the apparent motions of the planets. Yet, given (possibly) infinite universes, with N dimensions of space and time, one might speculate on the evolution of some transcendent intelligence pulling on our strings in the present!
Perhaps Paley's God too can still be glimpsed in the elegance and power of the principles of evolution itself? But then, as Darwin saw in the ichneumon wasp, there is then the problem of theodicy. After listening to this book, I was left with a vivid impression both of the sheer creative intelligence of Nature, and the cost in pain and death of previous generations.
"Slow start (if you listened to the selfish gene)"
I got this audio book after having listened to Dawkins' Selfish Gene. Admittedly I like the way him and Ward read his books, however in the beginning I thought that many of his arguments were already made in the Selfish Gene and only some more examples or different explanations are given. I kept listening though and after a while it started exceeding the spectrum of the Selfish Gene and became very interesting again. I guess that the early repetition of many of the Selfish Gene's arguments are necessary to make this a self-contained book, given that the aim of this book overlaps with the aim of the Selfish Gene.
Much like the Selfish Gene, the Blind Watchmaker is very elaborate in the argumentation and gives many examples and explanations. Dawkins and Ward do a fantastic job at making this a very enjoyable 16 (or so) hours. The book is very comprehensible and all concepts that are not completely intuitive are very well explained.
"Dry but good overview of evolution"
This is a very dry, slow and methodological overview of evolution. It takes its time to make its points, and it does so convincingly, but it isn't a fast and fun book. Neither does it have to be, if you have a bit of patience.
"Makes you think"
Some arguments but that is rather a silly thing, as I am not the author, and do not have the privilege to do so. So I would leave it and both enjoy to agree and disagree.
The general picture, in which arguments are presented.
Firstly, the author's voice gives the correct connotations, which you might skip, miss or change in your own personal reading. Secondly, they have good reading voices that brings the book to a level, where you do not feel like falling asleep, which I find to be the strive of any good reader.
No, but a documentary/debate program, though I find that there is a lot of these things around.
Even though I do not agree with all arguments I, as an Atheist, found it very useful and good for both mind and relaxation.
"Intelligent design my rear!"
Yet another compelling presentation by Dawkins,The Blind Watchmaker tackles the idea, perhaps most prominently promoted by Creationists, that intelligent design has informed how humans gained much of the form with which we are all so familiar. As ever Dawkins rubbishes his detractors with his practiced aplomb, demanding that they recognise the obvious truth behind his theories, or admit that they just don't believe in a scientific approach to answering questions about human development.
Perhaps the most popular organ for those espousing the intelligent design hypothesis, the eye, is singled out by Dawkins for treatment, treatment that could leave few listeners with the impression that his thesis lacks substance.
As with his other titles, the narration by both himself and Lalla Ward is competently performed and easy to listen to. The fact that Dawkins gets so exercised about certain topics comes through in the narration, and is actually a bit of a bonus, especially if you are used to rather flat readers presenting scientific topics.
A good book. Buy it after The Selfish Gene.
"beautiful and informative."
There was a little too much focus on responding to the creationist, but then again, this may be because I'm reading this book 31 years after it was written, in a time when most educated thinkers see it's main premise as obvious
"The near master"
Only Darwin himself beats Dawkins.
Dose go deep into evolution more so then any other.
Did take a while to finish.
And as always, Dawkins and wife are Crystal clear
"Very interesting book"
The material is very in and is beyond what I learned at school, have learned a lot even though I'm not a fan of biology I found this fascinating
"Darwinian Evolution as a religion"
The narration by the author and Lalla Ward makes for a good combination.
The chapters are mostly interesting - with a few over the top explanations.
Darwin - because he is right - only he is right - all the rest are wrong - according to Dawkins - Darwin's prophet.
The split in reading the material.
No, it requires digestion time - to comprehend the ideas presented.
While I am convinced by most arguments in the book, the zealous following of Darwin - and rebuttal of all other evolutionary views smacks a bit like religion - my god is the only god!.
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