A review (critical) of Dawkin's THE BLIND WATCHMAKER

Do you ever challenge authority in areas where you do not have expertise? Of course you do. As a "expert" myself in some areas, I am painfully aware of how little I really know. Why should I expect experts in other areas to be otherwise? This "review" is simply a fast run through of what I consider a book which "preaches to the choir on the left." THE BLIND WATCHMAKER is not science, it is philosophy; bad philosophy, repudiated years ago when the last of the "logical positivists" entered into their reward.

"One may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables." Dr. Samuel Johnson, as quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson, Oxford, p. 290.

As a scientist/physicist, I scold Dawkins for making a bad table ("Macroevolution as a "'fact.'" = "There exists no God").

I rebel against scholasticism. The "ism" that says "this is the way, the only way." I know only one guy who could say that and make it stick. That's another story.

Rhyme at Balliol College about 100 years ago:

First come I; my name is Jowett,
There's no knowledge but I know it.
I am the master of this college.
What I don't know isn't knowledge.

Substitute "Dawkins" for "Jowett" and the rhyme doesn't, but it does convey my impression of the book. Pardon me for saying so, however, but it does read like a religious tract. Example - page 39 - "That is what I firmly believe, and I have some experience ... ." What is that? An argument from Personal Credulity? I don't understand? I do understand his argument against Personal Incredulity, but how can that be turned around.

Again, page 287, "No serious biologist doubts the fact that evolution happened, ... ." One must assume that either the good doctor only reads those who agree with him, or is defining the word "serious" somewhat narrowly. I don't understand why RD did not mention, somewhere, Denton's book. Not even in the scant bibliography, which does manage five books of his own, not bad at all out of 92 citations. Quotations don't seem to be documented either, style perhaps; does not give the reader a "warm feeling."

Even his opening - "speaking of "the solved mystery," he says that "Darwin and Wallace solved it, ... ." I would think that Wallace, who disagreed with Darwin over the descent of mankind, might not agree with that one.

One more -- page 40. "Eyes don't fossilize." I am puzzled. Fossilized Trilobite eyes were discovered years ago -- in the early 1970s (Clarkson?)

From a review in the ASA "Perspectives," by Dr. Cogdell of The University of Texas, Page 112 of the June 88 issue, "Dawkins is working out his metaphysical presuppositions, disguised as science. We can't blame him for that, but the reader should be aware that the author ... is a philosophical wolf wearing the clothing of a scientific sheep."

John W. Burgeson

Press backspace to return