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The Blind Watchmaker

The Blind Watchmaker

The Blind Watchmaker 43


  To ‘tame’ chance means to break down the very improbable into less improbable small components arranged in series. No matter how improbable it is that an X could have arisen from a Y in a single step, it is always possible to conceive of a series of infinitesimally graded intermediates between them. However improbable a large-scale change may be, smaller changes are less improbable. And provided we postulate a sufficiently large series of sufficiently finely graded intermediates, we shall be able to derive anything from anything else, without invoking astronomical improbabilities. We are allowed to do this only if there has been sufficient time to fit all the intermediates in. And also only if there is a mechanism for guiding each step in some particular direction, otherwise the sequence of steps will career off in an endless random walk.

  It is the contention of the Darwinian world-view that both these provisos are met, and that slow, gradual, cumulative natural selection is the ultimate explanation for our existence. If there are versions of the evolution theory that deny slow gradualism, and deny the central role of natural selection, they may be true in particular cases. But they cannot be the whole truth, for they deny the very heart of the evolution theory, which gives it the power to dissolve astronomical improbabilities and explain prodigies of apparent miracle.

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  INDEX AND KEY TO BIBLIOGRAPHY

  This book is meant to be read from cover to cover. It is not a work of reference. Many items in the index will mean something only to people that have already read the book and want to find a particular place again. In such a book, footnotes are an irritating distraction. The following index, in addition to performing the normal function of an index, is intended to replace footnotes by acting as a key to the bibliography. The numbers in parentheses refer to the numbered books or articles in the bibliography. Other numbers refer to pages in the book. Where an indexed word recurs on a consecutive series of pages, normally only the first page, or the page where a definition will be found, is given.

  Page numbers listed correspond to the print edition of this book. You can use your device's search function to locate particular terms in the text.

  Acquired characteristics, inheritance of, 409, 422, (22)

  Adaptation, 16, 253, 407, (19, 89)

  Addressing, memory and genes, 166

  Aesop, 273, (21)

  Altruism, 379, (20, 52)

  Ambulance Effect, 41

  Amniotes, 366, (92)

  Amoeba, 164, 356

  Amplifier analogy, 358

  Anderson, D. M., 223, (2)

  Andersson, M., 304, (3)

  Angel wings, 437

  Anteaters, 149

  Antennapaedia, 328

  Ants, 151–55, (90)

  in Panama, 153, 277

  Archaeopteryx, 372

  Archives, DNA, 173

  fidelity of, 174

  Argument from Design, 7, 10, (71)

  Argyll, Duke of, 355, (73)

  Arms race, 252, (21, 23)

  cyclical, 304

  economic end to, 271

  between sexes, 252, 262, (85)

  Asdic, 32

  Asimov, I., 63–64, (5)

  Atkins, P. W., 22, (8)

  Australian fauna, 142, (78)

  Australopithecus, 324, 329

  Bacteria, 164, 186, 249

  Baghdad, walk to, 58

  Bateson, W., 431, (quoted in 22)

  Bats, 30–53, (38, 77)

  conference of, 50

  detector, 34

  diversity of, 33

  Doppler sensitivity of, 44

  ear muscles, 39

  economics, 36

  frequency modulated cries, 41

  lack of angel wings, 437

  problems of, 37, 39, 45, (19)

  subjective experience of, 47

  Bear, polar, 55, (63)

  Beaver, 192, (21)

  Bee-flower, 87, 90

  Beetle, bombardier, 121, (28)

  Bennet, G., 56, (quoted in 63)

  Best sellers, 313

  Biblical Creation, 359, (quoted in 10)

  Biochemical pathway, 241

  Biomorphs, 78, 333, 441

  Birds, echolocation by, 134

  Birmingham, Bishop of, 54–59, 449, (63)

  Blacksmith, 410

  Blueprint, theory of embryology, 415

  Boeing 747, random assembly, 12, 333, 354, (43)

  Brain, evolution of, 268, 307, 324, (46)

  Cairns-Smith, A. G., 211–36, (13, 14)

  Cake, analogy for development, 419

  Calluses, 421

  Carrier frequency, 40

  Cataract, 113

  Catastrophism, 343–44

  Cheetah, 255

  Chemists, 205

  Chess, 93

  Chimpanzee, 167, 372

  Chirp radar, 40

  Choice discrepancy, 297

  Cicadas, periodical, 140–42, (21)

  Clade, 367, 396

  Cladism, 365, 392–96, (75)

  transformed, 396, 398

  Classification, 361–403, (60, 75, 81)

  arbitrariness of non-biological, 363

  cladistic, 365, 392, (75)

  molecular, 382, 389, (37, 72)

  numerical, 396, (81)

  ‘traditional’, 393, (60)

  uniqueness of biological, 365, 381

  Clay, 213, (13, 14)

  ‘power’, 218

  Clouds, 65, 71

  Coadaptation, 240

  Coelacanth, 351, (80)

  Coincidence, 227, 389

  Colour, hypothesis of bat sensation, 49

  Combination lock, 12

  Compact disc, 159, 217

  Complexity

  but not with hindsight, 13
/>  as heterogeneity of form, 11

  as statistical improbability, 12

  Computer, explanation of, 20

  biomorphs, 72

  chess-playing, 93

  disc analogy, 245

  games, 88

  model, 90

  typing Shakespeare, 67

  underestimated, 90, 225

  value of, 105

  Constant speedism, 349, 373

  Constraints on evolution, 436, (58)

  Constructive evolution, 239

  Continental drift, 142, (39)

  Convergence, evolutionary, 133, (92)

  by RNA in test-tubes, 190, (27)

  Copernicus, 360

  Costs and benefits, 36, 270

  Cott, H. B., 267, (16)

  Covenant, Ark of the, 154

  Creationism, 327, 344, 359, 402, 449, (10, 48, 66, 76)

  smuggled into evolution, 355, 449

  Creator, 23, 200, 449

  Cromwell, O., 325

  Crystal, 213

  Cuckoo, 58

  Cultural evolution, 308

  Cumulative selection, 64

  DC8, stretched, 333, (22)

  DNA information technology, 157–95, (1, 57, 88)

  computer disc analogy, 245

  conservatism, 177

  origin, 198, 224

  as ROM, 166

  selfish, 164, (20, 21)

  Dam

  beaver, 194, (21)

  clay, 220

  Darwin, C., 7, 431, (11, 18, 32)

  and Argument from Personal Incredulity, 54, (63)

  complex organs, 128

  gaps in fossil record, 326, 342–43

  inheritance of acquired characteristics, 410

  miraculous saltations, 355, (32, 73)

  and punctuationists, 319, (22)

  sexual selection, 285

  species, 337

  stasis, 348

  Darwin, E., 407

  Darwinian, caricature, 437

  Darwinism, opposition to, 358, (10, 48, 66, 76)

  Dating, fossils, 321

  Dawkins, J. E., randomizing device, 66

  Dealion, unit of improbability, 230

  Design

  Argument from, 7, 10, (71)

  defined, 29

  Development, 75, 240, 415, (57)

  De Vries, H., 431

  Dewdrop analogy, 181

  Digital codes, 159

  Dinosaur beds, fake human footprints in, 321, 413, (76)

  Dog, evolution of, 57, 81

  Dollos’s Law, 132