Realm Of Randomness

June 1, 2008

The Blind Watchmaker

Filed under: Book,Evolution,Intelligent Design,Review,Science — Randomizer @ 3:55 pm

Yeah, I know it’s been a while since I last posted. Call it a combination of longer hours at work and more things to do when I come back home, but this year has so far been a lot more ‘outdoorsy’ than any of the past three and I’m quite happy about that. Unfortunately, my reading time has been drastically shortened, and so it’s no wonder that completing ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ took me close to 3 months, when it should have been more like 2 weeks!

I loved this book by Richard Dawkins and wished I had read the whole thing in a stretch, because by the time I reached the last chapter, I had close to forgotten what happened in the first. I totally recommend this book, and do hope that once you start, you read at least a chapter a day to maintain the flow.

Dawkins has come to be more of the ‘face of Atheism’ these days, and that is quite sad because that is really not his forte. Evolutionary biology is his area of expertise and Atheism is just a mere consequence of the realities he came to accept being so convinced about this theory and what it actually means. This book, in many ways helped me celebrate the completion of one year since coming to terms with life and the universe and it has made me a lot more confident about this topic.

What surprised me most while reading the book was that the author not only has decades worth of knowledge about biology, but is also very well versed in computer programming and mathematics. He frequently uses these to help make his point, and as a programmer, it was pretty great to see things explained your way.

The book talks about a lot of things:

  • What exactly evolution is, and isn’t
  • How our organs appear to be ‘designed’, but why they aren’t
  • The technicalities – DNA/RNA, genes, traits
  • Does evolution occur gradually or in spurts ?
  • Debunking alternate theories

You might be wondering – what’s with the weird title of the book? I did too. It is actually a reference to the Watchmaker argument that says that if you are walking on a beach one day and stumble upon a watch in the sand, would you assume that the watch ‘just happened’ or that someone ‘designed’ it and left it there? Obviously, you assume the latter – and if you do, can’t we also say that living things (which are FAR more complicated than mere watches) were also ‘designed’ or ‘created’ the same way by God / Creator / Intelligent Designer?

Read the book to find out!

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June 18, 2007

Humbled

Filed under: Evolution,Philosophy,Science — Randomizer @ 5:52 am

There are a few moments in life when you feel that whoever you are and whatever you will ever be are so insignificant in the bigger scheme of things that you just ought to give up and stop trying! I had a moment like that this weekend when a long-time dream of mine finally came to life – not in flesh and blood, but bone.

T-Rex

It was the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Staring down at us with all its glory, towering over us as we admired its sharp claws and sturdy frame, not daring to imagine how it must have been when alive and breathing. The Houston Museum of Natural Sciences was a mind blowing experience indeed. Apart from having this lizard monster staring down at you, one gets to see fossils of dozens of other dinosaurs, each one creepier than the next. Woolly mammoths, Triceratops skulls, a pre-historic ancestor of the horse, a feathered dinosaur, the list went on.

But what really gave me the ‘shock’ moment was the fact that one of these dinosaur skeletons was actually retrieved from an excavation site just a few miles away from where I stood. ( The Dairy Ashford area, for those of you familiar with Houston ) .

Whenever we read about dinosaurs, we picture them in the distant past, in an age so different that we believe it was an alternate world in itself. But how many of us actually, actually appreciate the fact that these massive monsters lived, roamed, ate and died in exactly the spot we are standing on right now ?

When this monster of a million years ago stared down at me on Saturday, everything I held dear and important vanished in the blink of an eye, and I was humbled, stripped down to the bone, much like the Rex, struggling to balance my sense of self-importance with the fact that my ‘lifetime’ will not even be as significant as a speck of dust when compared to the trillions of lifetimes the Earth has and will continue to serve host to.

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