28+ quotes from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins

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

Richard Dawkins ·  340 pages

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“There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“The Bishop goes on to the human eye, asking rhetorically, and with the implication that there is no answer, 'How could an organ so complex evolve?' This is not an argument, it is simply an affirmation of incredulity.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“Things exist either because they have recently come into existence or because they have qualities that made them unlikely to be destroyed in the past.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“The resemblance of the signs of the zodiac to the animals after which they are named... is as unimpressive as the predictions of astrologers.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“…the Genesis story is just one that happened to have been adopted by one particular tribe of Middle Eastern herders. It has no more special status than the belief of a particular West African tribe that the world was created from the excrement of ants.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“The important thing to remember about mathematics is not to be frightened”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“If a curiously selective plague came along and killed all people of intermediate height, 'tall' and 'short' would come to have just as precise a meaning as 'bird' or 'mammal'. The same is true of human ethics and law. Our legal and moral systems are deeply species-bound. The director of a zoo is legally entitled to 'put down' a chimpanzee that is surplus to requirements, while any suggestion that he might 'put down' a redundant keeper or ticket-seller would be greeted with howls of incredulous outrage. The chimpanzee is the property of the zoo. Humans are nowadays not supposed to be anybody's property, yet the rationale for discriminating against chimpanzees in this way is seldom spelled out, and I doubt if there is a defensible rationale at all. Such is the breathtaking speciesism of our attitudes, the abortion of a single human zygote can arouse more moral solicitude and righteous indignation than the vivisection of any number of intelligent adult chimpanzees! [T]he only reason we can be comfortable with such a double standard is that the intermediates between humans and chimps are all dead.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection, although human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“In the case of living machinery, the ‘designer’ is unconscious natural selection, the blind watchmaker.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“Os livros de física podem ser complicados, mas eles, assim como os carros e os computadores, são produtos de objetos biológicos - cérebros humanos. Os objetos e os fenômenos que um livro de física descreve são mais simples que uma única célula do corpo de seu autor. E o autor consiste em trilhões de células, muitas delas diferentes umas das outras, organizadas com arquitetura intrincada e engenharia de precisão para formar uma máquina capaz de escrever um livro.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“[O]ur percept is an elaborate computer model in the brain, constructed on the basis of information coming from [the environment], but transformed in the head into a form in which that information can be used. Wavelength differences in the light out there become coded as 'colour' differences in the computer model in the head. Shape and other attributes are encoded in the same kind of way, encoded into a form that is convenient to handle. The sensation of seeing is, for us, very different from the sensation of hearing, but this cannot be directly due to the physical differences between light and sound. Both light and sound are, after all, translated by the respective sense organs into the same kind of nerve impulses. It is impossible to tell, from the physical attributes of a nerve impulse, whether it is conveying information about light, about sound or about smell. The reason the sensation of seeing is so different from the sensation of hearing and the sensation of smelling is that the brain finds it convenient to use different kinds of internal model of the visual world, the world of sound and the world of smell. It is because we internally use our visual information and our sound information in different ways and for different purposes that the sensations of seeing and hearing are so different. It is not directly because of the physical differences between light and sound.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“Words are our servants, not our masters.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“O darwinismo é uma teoria de processos cumulativos tão lentos que se desenrolam ao longo de milhares e milhões de anos. Todos os nossos juízos intuitivos sobre o que é provável mostram-se errados por larga margem.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“[T]he form that an animal's subjective experience takes will be a property of the internal computer model. That model will be designed, in evolution, for its suitability for useful internal representation, irrespective of the physical stimuli that come to it from outside. Bats and we need the same kind of internal model for representing the position of objects in three-dimensional space. The fact that bats construct their internal model with the aid of echoes, while we construct ours with the aid of light, is irrelevant.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“در دنیا آدم‌هایی هستند که ناامیدانه تلاش در نپذیرفتن تکامل داروینی دارند. به نظر می‌رسد آنها به سه گروه تقسیم می‌شوند، آنهایی که به دلایل مذهبی می‌خواهند تکامل دروغ باشد. آنهایی که دلیلی برای انکار تکامل نمی‌یابند اما به دلایل سیاسی یا اعتقادی مفهوم انتخاب طبیعی را ظالمانه و دور از انصاف می‌داند یا گرایشات نژادپرستانه آنها با تکامل ناسازگار است و در آخر آن‌هایی که با مخالفت می‌توانند هیاهو ایجاد کنند و برنامه‌های مردم‌پسند خوبی تهیه کنند.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“[W]e may now be on the threshold of a new kind of genetic takeover. DNA replicators built 'survival machines' for themselves — the bodies of living organisms including ourselves. As part of their equipment, bodies evolved onboard computers — brains. Brains evolved the capacity to communicate with other brains by means of language and cultural traditions. But the new milieu of cultural tradition opens up new possibilities for self-replicating entities. The new replicators are not DNA and they are not clay crystals. They are patterns of information that can thrive only in brains or the artificially manufactured products of brains — books, computers, and so on. But, given that brains, books and computers exist, these new replicators, which I called memes to distinguish them from genes, can propagate themselves from brain to brain, from brain to book, from book to brain, from brain to computer, from computer to computer.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“The physicist’s problem is the problem of ultimate origins and ultimate natural laws. The biologist’s problem is the problem of complexity.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“however many ways there may be of being alive, it is certain that there are vastly more ways of being dead, or rather not alive. You may throw cells together at random, over and over again for a billion years, and not once will you get a conglomeration that flies or swims or burrows or runs, or does anything, even badly, that could remotely be construed as working to keep itself alive.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“What we can imagine as plausible is a narrow band in the middle of a much broader spectrum of what is actually possible. [O]ur eyes are built to cope with a narrow band of electromagnetic frequencies. [W]e can't see the rays outside the narrow light band, but we can do calculations about them, and we can build instruments to detect them. In the same way, we know that the scales of size and time extend in both directions far outside the realm of what we can visualize. Our minds can't cope with the large distances that astronomy deals in or with the small distances that atomic physics deals in, but we can represent those distances in mathematical symbols. Our minds can't imagine a time span as short as a picosecond, but we can do calculations about picoseconds, and we can build computers that can complete calculations within picoseconds. Our minds can't imagine a timespan as long as a million years, let alone the thousands of millions of years that geologists routinely compute. Just as our eyes can see only that narrow band of electromagnetic frequencies that natural selection equipped our ancestors to see, so our brains are built to cope with narrow bands of sizes and times. Presumably there was no need for our ancestors to cope with sizes and times outside the narrow range of everyday practicality, so our brains never evolved the capacity to imagine them. It is probably significant that our own body size of a few feet is roughly in the middle of the range of sizes we can imagine. And our own lifetime of a few decades is roughly in the middle of the range of times we can imagine.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“The arms race between [predators] and [prey] is asymmetric, in which success on either side is felt as failure by the other side, but the nature of the success and failure on the two sides is very different. The two sides are 'trying' to do very different things. [Predators] are trying to eat [prey]. [Prey] are not trying to eat [predators], they are trying to avoid being eaten by [predators].
From an evolutionary point of view asymmetric arms races are more [likely] to generate highly complex weapons systems.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“Many of us have no grasp of quantum theory, or Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, but this does not in itself lead us to oppose these theories! Darwinism, unlike ‘Einsteinism’, seems to be regarded as fair game for critics with any degree of ignorance.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“if a design is good enough to evolve once, the same design principle is good enough to evolve twice, from different starting points, in different parts of the animal kingdom.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“تکامل به نحوی مغز ما را مجهز به یک آگاهی درونی از خطر و عدم احتمال کرده است که مناسب جاندارانی با عمر کمتر از یک قرن است. اگر در سیاره‌ای عمر جانداران یک‌میلیون قرن باشد، به‌احتمال‌زیاد هرگز از خیابان عبور نمی‌کنند زیرا اگر فردی برای نیم قرن هرروز از خیابان عبور کن حتماً با خودروای برخورد خواهد کرد.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“[...] se uma teoria da origem da vida for suficientemente "plausível" para satisfazer nosso juízo subjetivo de plausibilidade, ela é plausível "demais" para explicar a pobreza de vida no universo que observamos. Segundo esse argumento, a teoria que estamos procurando tem de ser o tipo de teoria que parece implausível para nossa imaginação limitada, radicada na Terra e circunscrita a poucas décadas.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“How did ears get their start? Any piece of skin can detect vibrations if they come in contact with vibrating objects. This is a natural outgrowth of the sense of touch. Natural selection could easily have enhanced this faculty by gradual degrees until it was sensitive enough to pick up very slight contact vibrations. At this point it would automatically have been sensitive enough to pick up airborne vibrations of sufficient loudness and/or sufficient nearness of origin”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“[W]e may now be on the threshold of a new kind of genetic takeover. DNA replicators built 'survival machines' for themselves — the bodies of living organisms including ourselves. As part of their equipment, bodies evolved onboard computers — brains. Brains evolved the capacity to communicate with other brains by means of language and cultural traditions. But the new milieu of cultural tradition opens up new possibilities for self-replicating entities. The new replicators are not DNA and they are not 158 The Blind Watchmaker clay crystals. They are patterns of information that can thrive only in brains or the artificially manufactured products of brains — books, computers, and so on. But, given that brains, books and computers exist, these new replicators, which I called memes to distinguish them from genes, can propagate themselves from brain to brain, from brain to book, from book to brain, from brain to computer, from computer to computer.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“It will be agreed that you can’t divide a cake up into its component crumbs and say ‘This crumb corresponds to the first word in the recipe, this crumb corresponds to the second word in the recipe’, etc. In this sense it will be agreed that the whole recipe maps onto the whole cake. But now suppose we change one word in the recipe; for instance, suppose ‘baking-powder’ is deleted or is changed to ‘yeast’. We bake 100 cakes according to the new version of the recipe, and 100 cakes according to the old version of the recipe. There is a key difference between the two sets of 100 cakes, and this difference is due to a one-word difference in the recipes. Although there is no one-to-one mapping from word to crumb of cake, there is one-to-one mapping from word difference to whole-cake difference. ‘Baking-powder’ does not correspond to any particular part of the cake: its influence affects the rising, and hence the final shape, of the whole cake. If ‘baking-powder’ is deleted, or replaced by ‘flour’, the cake will not rise. If it is replaced by ‘yeast’, the “cake will rise but it will taste more like bread. There will be a reliable, identifiable difference between cakes baked according to the original versoin and the ‘mutated’ versions of the recipe, even though there is no particular ‘bit’ of any cake that corresponds to the words in question. This is a good analogy for what happens when a gene mutates.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


“[W]e can calculate our way into regions of miraculous improbability far greater than we can imagine as plausible. Let's look at this matter of what we think is plausible. What we can imagine as plausible is a narrow band in the middle of a much broader spectrum of what is actually possible. Sometimes it is narrower than what is actually there. There is a good analogy with light. Our eyes are built to cope with a narrow band of electromagnetic frequencies (the ones we call light), somewhere in the middle of the spectrum from long radio waves at one end to short X-rays at the other. We can't see the rays outside the narrow light band, but we can do calculations about them, and we can build instruments to detect them. In the same way, we know that the scales of size and time extend in both directions far outside the realm of what we can visualize. Our minds can't cope with the large distances that astronomy deals in or with the small distances that atomic physics deals in, but we can represent those distances in mathematical symbols. Our minds can't imagine a time span as short as a picosecond, but we can do calculations about picoseconds, and we can build computers that can complete calculations within picoseconds. Our minds can't imagine a timespan as long as a million years, let alone the thousands of millions of years that geologists routinely compute. Just as our eyes can see only that narrow band of electromagnetic frequencies that natural selection equipped our ancestors to see, so our brains are built to cope with narrow bands of sizes and times. Presumably there was no need for our ancestors to cope with sizes and times outside the narrow range of everyday practicality, so our brains never evolved the capacity to imagine them. It is probably significant that our own body size of a few feet is roughly in the middle of the range of sizes we can imagine. And our own lifetime of a few decades is roughly in the middle of the range of times we can imagine.”
― Richard Dawkins, quote from The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design


About the author

Richard Dawkins
Born place: in Nairobi, Kenya
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