The title of a book written by Richard Dawkins as a riposte to the Argument from Design used by creationism. Natural selection is an unconscious, automatic, and blind process, yet it is non-random.

The classic example of something that is used in the argument from design is the human eye. This organ is very complex and well designed that people find it very difficult to believe that it could have been anything other than designed that way.

Consider the following questions:

  1. Could the human eye have arisen directly from no eye at all, in a single step?
  2. Could the human eye have arisen directly from something slightly different from itself, something that is almost a human eye?
The odds against 1 are so very small that its almost a sure thing. The odds for 2 are almost an absolute certainty, given that the slightly different thing is a small enough change.

Another example of this is a wing. Wings did not suddenly come into existence, and there are many creatures with 'half a wing', something that is not as evolved and more primitive than a bird's wing, for example frogs that glide with webbed feet, tree snakes with flattened bodies to catch the air, lizards with flaps to serve similiar purposes, and many mammals that have skin stretched between limbs to fly or glide. (see What good is half a wing? for more the development of insect wings)

Each of these steps is the example of a blind process. To believe that there is a goal for this is akin to believing in a blind watchmaker.

Not related to the book:

There's a beautiful, awesome video, albeit with terrible music, on this subject on YouTube. Someone, not me, with way too much time on his hands wrote a program that:

Starts with pieces of a 'smashed watch' with a certain amount of affinity for each other, like organic molecules.

Simulates the bonds between the pieces.

Takes the more accurate clocks and 'breeds' them to make a new one.

The less accurate clocks are killed off.

This actually resulted in a lot of evolution, and ended up, each of several times, with extremely accurate clocks - all with no interference whatsoever from the 'designer'.

For those of you who want to watch it:

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