Re: "The Blind Watchmaker"

From: Stevan Harnad (
Date: Sun Nov 02 1997 - 21:18:25 GMT

On Mon, 27 Oct 1997, alexandra beck wrote:

> This evolution is unlikely to have arisen by chance alone.
> "Complicated things have some quality, specifiable in advance, that is
> unlikely to have been aquired by chance alone.'

Remember that mutations and recombinations are random but the
environment -- and what SUCCEEDS in that environment -- is anything but

> Ch2 We/everything is not the ' best' that an engineer could have
> thought of. Different types of systems are really producing the same
> outcome, yet they may be using a different physical medium i.e. bats
> hearing and humans eyesight. Evolution has therefore, many ways in
> developing good designs. Thus,showing that the designer is unconscious,
> natural selection i.e. blind.

And evolution does not produce the BEST solution, but only one that is
good enough (to lead to success) and better than its competitors.

> Thing have evolved through natural selections natural stages. The time
> of these gradual stages is not known.

The overall timing is known, at least for anatomic traits: We know when
they appeared; what we do not have is a record of the rapid selection
that led to a transfomration from one design to another.

> Ch3 'Living things are too beautifully designed to have come into
> existence by chance.'

Evolution shaped your taste in beauty, just as it shaped your taste for
sugar. (Besides, this kind of statement would only apply to those things
that everone or most people find beautiful. Tastes that vary with
experience are even less likely to be able to judge whether something
was too beautiful to have been shaped by evolution. (And evolution, I
hope you now know, is not chance!)

> Here would I be right in saying that because each step of evolution is
> so small changes could have arisen by chance. But the whole process is
> far too complex to be a chance occurance. It is therefore, the process
> of cumulative selection i.e. a series of sieving.( still remembering
> that there is no long term goal.)

That sounds right, though you need to be able to explain it to kid-sib.

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