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Richard Dawkins What if you are Wrong?

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A Built on Rock Website The Blind Watch Maker

The choice of letter was random but every time a letter dropped into the right place it was selected and saved because it knew the content and order of the target phrase. This was supposed to be an analogy for natural selection. In fact it was the very opposite according to his own definition. Natural selection is a blind unthinking process with no end in view. It was an absurd attempt to prove that a random system (evolution) can produce an intelligent sentence (a functioning biological system).

One way or another he introduces something intelligently designed in order to describe his mindless process. One of his examples involves a safe combination lock that can be opened incrementally. This is achieved through the safe-breaker being rewarded for every near miss on the combination lock. Every time a near miss occurs the safe door opens a fraction. A sheer fiction divorced from any sense of reality. Finally and worst of all he introduces his weakest argument, a human to represent his evolutionary process: the Blind Watchmaker. It must never have occurred to Dawkins that a blind watchmaker does not become unconscious and mindless because he has lost his sight. That is more consistent with a watchmaker who has been taken to hospital in a coma and is on life support. When you come to think of it this would a much better analogy for the present state of Neo-Darwinism, because this human being would achieve absolutely nothing until he regained consciousness.

And why drag the blind watchmaker into the argument? To Richard Dawkins I would say that if you intend to produce analogies then stick with what you have got, because the one thing you do not have is a watchmaker, blind or sighted.

Dawkins states:

‘Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.’

He attributes all biological systems to his blind watchmaker. The Darwinian mechanism of random mutation and natural selection is called blind…..

‘because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view.’

 Not one word of the above quote is applicable to his starring character. A blind man does in a real sense see ahead, and consequently does not fall into every pothole on his path. He makes provision for himself, and uses a stick or a guide dog to see him through. He does plan and take account of consequences like any other person and also like any person when engaged on a journey, he does have an end in view. The blind watchmaker bears no resemblance to any Darwinian mechanism. By personalising an inhuman mindless, purposeless process, Dawkins makes his own path easier while trying to confuse his audience.

So Dawkins is unkind to blind watchmaker’s, perhaps unkind to the blind in general. I think it highly likely that a blind watchmaker could put a watch together. Why and how? Because if this person was once a watchmaker then he must have at one time had his sight and put many timepieces together. So maybe he could, admittedly with great difficulty, given sufficient time and patience do the job. A grandmaster chess player can produce high quality chess while playing blindfold. The capacity of human beings to adapt to set backs and seemingly crippling disabilities is one of the many wonders of the human mind and spirit. So it is not unreasonable to believe that experience and knowledge based on decades in the business could achieve the successful completion of this project.

The blind watchmaker is a poor example and proves nothing other than Dawkins requires intelligence, knowledge, and experience to produce anything meaningful and useful. He uses the analogy of climbing Mount Improbable to illustrate how evolution made the trip from base camp: microbial life, to the summit, human life. To climb any seriously high and precipitous mountain you usually require a team. If you to do it alone you need to be an intelligent, experienced, resourceful, knowledgeable, and well equipped mountaineer. The benefit of sight obviously makes an ascent easier, but many blind people are excellent mountaineers. As a member of a team he can take advice from companions, judge the intention of a helping hand when offered, or understand the problems faced by a traverse. He knows when to return to a previous day’s position, to weather a storm and so on. None of this is available to one of Dawkins’s biological systems attempting an expedition to the summit of Mount Improbable. It has no compass, is ignorant of the path, has no knowledge that it is on a mountain, or that there is a summit and has no innate desire to reach the top. And according to all observable evidence, no such feat has ever been accomplished, other than in the imaginations of people like Richard Dawkins.

The Blind Watchmaker

Dawkins must realise at some level that the task of defending the theory of evolution is hopeless, because he continually tries to solve the problem by smuggling an intelligent designer into his illustrations. For example, he explains that a random letter generator can produce a coherent sentence. The one Dawkins chose was from Shakespeare.

‘Methinks it is like a weasel’ from Hamlet.

Random letter generators and computers can achieve almost anything depending on how they are programmed. A sufficiently rapid random letter generator can produce the complete works of Shakespeare in a matter of hours or days. If it seems nearly as fast as printing the whole thing out from memory, that’s because it’s exactly what it amounts to. Dawkins had programmed the object phrase into the machine.