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Books & CultureJanuary/February 1996



Clockwork Origins? Part 1

Books discussed in this essay

Richard Dawkins, "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design" (Norton, 349 pp.; $10.95, paper, 1987 [first published 1986]).

Richard Dawkins, "River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life" (Basic, 172 pp.; $20, 1995).

Phillip E. Johnson, "Darwin on Trial," 2d. ed. (InterVarsity, 195 pp.; $10.95, paper, 1993).

Phillip E. Johnson, "Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science," Law and Education (InterVarsity, 245 pp.; $19.99, 1995).

Richard Dawkins is absolutely confident that science will finally accomplish what philosophy has been unable to do in more than 2,000 years--make theism intellectually indefensible.

Dawkins, a fellow of New College at Oxford University and the author of several best-selling expositions of Darwinism, acknowledges that prior to Darwin, philosophers who rejected belief in a divine creator had no good explanation for the order and complexity of living organisms. An atheist like David Hume could only say to a theist: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." According to Dawkins, Darwin supplied that better explanation and "made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."

Dawkins is quite explicit that Darwinism is more than simply a scientific theory. In the preface to his most recent book, "River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life" (the title is taken from Genesis 2:10), Dawkins writes,

Not only does the Darwinian theory command superabundant power to explain. Its economy in doing so has a sinewy elegance, a poetic beauty that outclasses even the most haunting of the world's ...

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