Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth
|Mirza Tahir Ahmad|
The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who Is Also Deaf and Dumb
N KEEPING with the promise made in our introductory remarks we now turn to the book entitled The Blind Watchmaker 1 by Richard Dawkins—now Professor Dawkins.
At first it was rather discomforting to read through the said book because Professor Dawkins seems to avoid confronting the real problems of life despite knowing them and admitting their existence. He loses no time in hiding his theories behind a smokescreen of grandiose confusion of his own creation. It is impossible to take up all the points he has made because most of them are irrelevant and unrelated. However, when he writes of real life and the mysteries it possesses, he does so purely as a scientist and does not interfere with realities to gain any ulterior motive. Here Dawkins is at his best. But the problem is that when he is at his best, he is at his worst in relation to the cause of natural selection. No honest treatment of the realities of life can lead to the idea of life having been created with all its complexities without a preceding conscious creator, which natural selection is not. It is to avoid this inevitable logical conclusion that he hastens to escape into an unreal phantom world of his own creation—a land of computer games and biomorphs. Then, he attempts to draw a line between the complexities of man-made machines and the apparent complexities of nature. He attempts to mislead the reader by claiming that the complexities of man-made wonders are real, purposeful and well-designed but the complexities of nature, though they far exceed in the element of wonder they contain, lack purpose and design. He would have the reader believe that it is only his impression that they are complex and pre-designed with a goal to achieve. Here he confuses the mind of the unwary reader by taking him to and fro, from hindsight to foresight, from foresight to hindsight—an amazing attempt at deceit. He would have the world believe that all man-made products are made with foresight, thus they must have purpose, design and complexity which are the work of a conscious mind. When turning to nature, he has to admit that in the products of nature the element of wonder is greater by thousands of factors than in the man-made products. Yet he insists that because we are accustomed to attribute design to human products, our hindsight, when we look at natural products, creates in us an illusion of purpose and design. Thus we are tricked into believing that they too must also have a conscious designer. Evidently, he has no argument to support this illusion theory except his authoritative word for it. On the contrary, whatever illustrations he chooses from real life most powerfully contradict his conclusion and prove the converse.
Take for instance his scholarly work on bats. As we have already discussed bats and some of the wonders related to them, we shall only refer to some of the observations made by Dawkins on this subject and remind him of his promise made on the first page of the preface of his book that:
‘…having built up the mystery, my other main aim is to remove it again by explaining the solution.’ 2
Regrettably, this is a promise he does not keep.
To bats he devotes the better part of the chapter Good Design. He writes:
‘Their brains are delicately tuned packages of miniaturized electronic wizardry, programmed with the elaborate software necessary to decode a world of echoes in real time. Their faces are often distorted into gargoyle shapes that appear hideous to us until we see them for what they are, exquisitely fashioned instruments for beaming ultrasound in desired directions.’ 3
So ably does he sum up the mystery. Further enlarging upon it, he pays the unique compliment to the bat’s ability of being a past master on sonar. He states:
‘When a little brown bat detects an insect and starts to move in on an interception course, its click rate goes up. Faster than a machine gun, it can reach peak rates of 200 pulses per second as the bat finally closes in on the moving target.’ 4
Having raised the questions,
‘If bats are capable of boosting their sampling rates to 200 pulses per second, why don’t they keep this up all the time? Since they evidently have a rate control ‘knob’ on their ‘stroboscope’, why don’t they turn it permanently to maximum, thereby keeping their perception of the world at its most acute, all the time, to meet any emergency?’ 4
he answers, informing the readers,
‘One reason is that these high rates are suitable only for near targets. If a pulse follows too hard on the heels of its predecessor it gets mixed up with the echo of its predecessor returning from a distant target.’ 5
He goes on to speak of amazing wonders about the bats’ aeronautical and sonar potentials, and concludes by affirming:
‘… we can only understand it at a level of artificial instrumentation, and mathematical calculations on paper, we find it hard to imagine a little animal doing it in its head.’ 6
Speaking of the complexities of similar but less complex man-made machines, he observes:
‘Of course, a sophisticated conscious brain did the wiring up (or at least designed the wiring diagram), but no conscious brain is involved in the moment-to-moment working of the box.’ 7
‘… our experience of technology also prepares us to see the mind of a conscious and purposeful designer in the genesis of sophisticated machinery.’ 8
From here the conclusive absurdity begins because he claims that the designer is the unconscious natural selection, the blind watchmaker. Regarding the impossibility of a blind know-nothing Darwinian principle having created the living wonder of the bats’ auditory system, he addresses the question:
‘How could an organ so complex evolve?’
The answer he gives is:
‘This is not an argument, it is simply an affirmation of incredulity.’ 9
If Dawkins is told that the 64 kilobyte computer he claims to have worked upon is not the creation of a conscious mind nor does it have any design whatsoever, will he readily agree with the suggestion? He will certainly not, despite the fact that his elementary computer is far less complicated than a bats’ auditory system.
If he refuses to agree with the suggestion that any computer could have been built without a competent conscious designer, he must honestly examine himself to discover the reason for his refusal to believe in a creator of life. The only answer he can find will be that he does so because of the computer’s complicated design and orderly construction which could not have happened by itself. Yet when it comes to life, he completely transforms his attitude, as though he had undergone a metamorphosis. Being a biologist he must realize that, as against a computer, life is far more complex. The figure of a trillion raised to the power of a trillion is a mere nothing by comparison. If the enormous complexity of life is an illusion then a computer has a far greater right to be dismissed as one. How can Dawkins forget, even for a moment, that if his verdict is correct, his own mind with all its intricacies must itself be described as an illusion. We do not want to be impolite to him, so let him speak for himself. Which of the two will he choose? Will he prefer his mind to be described as a mere illusion of a disorganized mass of grey cells, or will he rather dismiss his own theories as hallucinations of a healthy mind. However much we may desire, we see no third option for him. If the human mind is an illusion then all its products must also be an illusion multiplied by itself, like a profusion of dreams created by the dreams of a madman, or hallucinations giving birth to hallucinations. The great scholar that he is, with a perfectly organized intellect, we are loathed to refer to his mind as an illusion. It is here that Dawkins begins to display his jugglery with words. Life is not complex, will be his simple answer. It is the illusion of those who behold it to be so. Hence, not being complex, it can be created by itself. To call the complexity of life an illusion and the mechanism of a computer a complexity is tantamount to turning reason upside down. To call the day night, and the night day, is less bereft of sense than Dawkins’ somersault. Incredulity is the crux of the matter. Evidently it is incredible for Dawkins to believe the construction of a mere Boeing 747 by itself yet it is not incredible for him that far greater complexities in nature have erupted into being without a creator. To dismiss this dilemma and to hide his prejudice against God he refers to the complexities of nature as illusions of an over-credulous religious people. But before this, he has to dismiss the existence of the builders of the Boeing 747 as an illusion of his own mind. The same arguments he uses against the believers in God can apply with even greater force to him. If a simple computer cannot be justified to have been built by itself, the building of a Boeing 747 becomes far more impossible. Yet Dawkins believes in these impossibilities. He only believes in them because he insists that they present complexity of design which demand the pre-existence of a conscious mind. When it comes to nature, to escape belief in a pre-existing mind, he simply dismisses nature’s complexities as an illusion. If the coming into being of a Boeing 747 by itself is incredulous for Dawkins to believe, the creation of life by itself should have been far more impossible. This attitude only exposes his predetermination not to believe in God.
Dawkins has to explain and differentiate between his assertion and that of others who confront him with the type of logic he employs to suit himself. The only argument he builds in his defence comprises the following:
‘… we have no intuitive grasp of the immensities of time available for evolutionary change.’ 9
By this he means that we do possess the intuitive grasp of the changes during the time taken for the building of a Boeing 747. But we can demonstrate that his argument of time is irrelevant. The shortness or longevity of time simply does not apply. In the case of a Boeing 747 he knows that a conscious human mind was at work prior to its construction. That is the only reason why he believes in pre-design and purpose. Hypothetically, it can be proved that time is absolutely irrelevant to his argument. If any part of this machine was discovered from the archives of nature, to have been buried there for half a billion years, would he then believe that time could have shaped it? Most certainly not! He would have to believe in an unknown creator with a conscious mind. Dawkins may extend the time to any impossible number but he cannot himself believe that even the wheel of a Boeing 747 could have been created bit by bit. Life or no life is irrelevant to the issue. Complexity, design and mechanical wonder are the issues involved.
Again to insist that the bat was created by the unconscious blind forces of nature is only an attempt to replace an unknown conscious creator with an unconscious blind principle of Darwinism. Only those scholars can agree with this proposition who, despite their great knowledge and dedication to rationality, set them aside momentarily to escape the reality of God.
The main service Dawkins has done to Darwinism lies in his ingenious device to rebut a common objection against the principle of natural selection which rejects the proposition that natural selection has any role to play in the internal intricate workings of genes. This in fact is the main thrust of his approach to biology. He proposes a completely new idea of the interrelationship between natural selection and genes. He does not deny attributing the role of development and mutative changes to genes at all. He does not apparently claim that these changes are directly subservient to natural selection. All he claims is simply that whatever bodily changes are brought about by genes are governed by natural selection. When natural selection approves of such changes in bodies as are worthy of survival, this approval is also automatically extended to the genes which brought them about. But that is what he has already done with the help of the science of chance. Referring to the possibility of the haemoglobin’s creation, merely by factors of chance, he most emphatically declares that it is impossible. On page 45 he further elaborates this improbability. He writes of four chains of amino acids twisted together comprising 146 amino acids in a single haemoglobin cell. From here he starts a rather complicated mathematical calculation and concludes that for a haemoglobin to have been created merely by a game of chance is next to impossible. In his own words:
‘This is a staggeringly large number. A million is a 1 with 6 noughts after it. A billion (1,000 million) is a 1 with 9 noughts after it. The number we seek, the ‘haemoglobin number’, is (near enough) a 1 with 190 noughts after it! This is the chance against happening to hit upon haemoglobin by luck. And a haemoglobin molecule has only aminute fraction of the complexity of a living body.’ 10
It is an ingenious argument which for him is mainly responsible for solving the riddle of life by the application of Darwinian principles, which evidently it does not. The genes along with the haemoglobin which contain them are in this way dismissed by the above argument as impossible to exist. This is what we have understood from our in-depth study of Dawkins’ relevant chapter. In fact, it is this brainwave of his which is largely responsible for influencing the younger generation of natural scientists today. But we shall presently demonstrate that this is only an illusion created by him because the realities of nature do not support his theory.
E draw the attention of the reader to the fact that approval or disapproval of environmental factors do not in any way alter, command, or influence the activities of genes, despite the fact that the bodies which contain them themselves lie at the mercy of environmental factors.
As we are convinced that this is the most important argument which Dawkins has managed to contrive, we should explain our position more elaborately. In fact we have already discussed the evolutionary processes in our book in a pre-emptive manner so that Darwinian principles cannot be misapplied. We hope that the students of natural science will find this work helpful in their re-evaluation of the concept of evolution. Our approach is radically different from that of other religious and scientific scholars who have specifically written against Darwinism. The present work is based entirely on our study of general scientific literature. Despite the fact that we have not read the books written against Darwinism, how can we claim that our work to be radically different from theirs? It is so because throughout this work we have been taking our guidance from the Holy Quran which they unfortunately could not have done.
Returning to Dawkins’ revolutionary approach, it should be remembered that the activities of genes are governed by laws inbred into them by forces unknown to him. Genes work without any reference to environmental changes. When the principle of natural selection approves some bodily features of the living, it still does not command and direct the activities of genes within those bodies. Again when natural selection disapproves of certain bodily features, with reference to their quality of survival in a competitive world, it still has no influence on their genes. This is absolutely evident from the study of evolution from beginning to end. The primitive organisms, like the amoebas and other elementary species of life which followed them on the rising ladder of evolution, were created by cellular activities commanded by genes. All these apparently inadequately equipped organisms and animals have survived the entire span of evolution along with the genes they contain.
Finally, man appeared at the pinnacle of evolution. Between the animal kingdom and man the difference is so vast and varied that no scientist in truth can envision any bit by bit progressive changes which can fill this vastness. We are not talking of simple physical similarities of which Darwin has taken note of. The evolutionists talk of a missing link which may have been a chimpanzee according to some or a gorilla according to others. Of course a tail is missing in some species of apes, but for a tail to be or not to be is not the question. The question is how the great void can be explained between man and animals in their behavioural patterns and mental potentials? Which animal has learnt to read and write, and to express himself in languages as sophisticated as human languages? A comparison between humans and animals in all these fields will show that human potential is many billion times greater than that of the animals. This is a conservative estimate when we turn to the realities. Look at all the libraries of the world and what they contain. Can a scientist show even a tiny library of the most elementary things in the cave of a gorilla or the private home of a chimpanzee? Show us a page authored by either of the two, dearly preserved upon their library shelves and we shall admit that our statement was rather exaggerated. They talk of animal languages of course but they also talk of those languages as expressions not consciously created. They even talk of dolphins mimicking human language, even uttering a word or two, but nowhere in the animal kingdom can they demonstrate such languages as humans have coined with such immense variety.
Perhaps Dawkins’ imaginary monkey could write a line of Shakespeare on Dawkins’ computer by randomly pressing any keys on the board but the time needed for that chance single sentence of Shakespeare’s drama is not only remote, it is impossible. It is incomprehensible why Dawkins should have employed a hypothetical monkey while real monkeys were easily available. He should have employed a real monkey for the task without training him to press the keys. All he should have done was to tie a monkey in the vicinity of the computer. Next morning if he had returned to watch what the computer had produced with the help of that monkey he would be far more likely to see the computer shattered into pieces instead of discovering a single word of Shakespeare. But we know the time is too short. Each day a new computer should have to be bought and left at his disposal, and on the day the monkey breathes his last, the room would have been turned into a junkyard of shattered computers with not a trace of Shakespeare to be found anywhere, not even over the body of the deceased. Still, time may be far too short if measured by Darwinian standards. But did the apes not exist and evolve for 5–8 million years before man? Is it not enough time for the bit by bit building of a Shakespeare among them? After all, the difference in brain between them and man is just a single, though long, leap.
URNING to the question of haemoglobin once again, if godhead were to be attributed to anyone other than God, it must have been attributed to haemoglobin and not to the blind, dumb and deaf principle of natural selection. Whatever follows in the making of life up to the creation of the human body—which according to him is far more impossible to be created by chance—must be accredited to haemoglobin and not to Darwinism. Thus Professor Dawkins seems to identify his god, yet denies him. He must admit that haemoglobin is the god of all creation, yet there has to be a God of haemoglobin. That god according to him is a fabulous number of chances, a number which certainly does not exist.
The sum total of his argument therefore, is that haemoglobin could not exist because the number of chances needed to create it are impossible. The next logical step for him should have been to explain why haemoglobin exists while it just could not have existed. The only inevitable answer to this dilemma is that its very existence rules out the game of chance being its creator. However, its immense intricacies and complexities of design cry out for another Creator to replace chance. Professor Dawkins has simply no third option. Either he should put his foot in the boat which cannot exist, or in the boat which will willy-nilly carry him to the presence of God the Creator. This is when he may have come nearest to God. But the moment he realizes his unavoidable folly, he immediately flies away from Him in the direction of Darwinism, his pseudo-god, which he knows full well had no hand to play in the creation of haemoglobin. He has no right whatsoever to attribute the cellular wonders created in the human body to Darwinism without first explaining how their creator, the haemoglobin itself, came into being. What factors, other than chance, must have shaped the basic cells of life is the real question he must answer. Hence all his clever contrivances to subjugate genes to environmental factors are absolutely meaningless and as we have shown they are in fact counterproductive. This is the main problem of Professor Dawkins—avoiding the real issues and diverting the attention of the reader to issues that are imaginary.
In the light of this analysis, all his attempts of employing computers and his theory of bit by bit cumulative factors are rendered useless. The shortage of time or its longevity has never been a problem. He himself informs us that the time needed for the cumulative bit by bit creation of even the first bricks of life is trillions into trillions of times greater than the real available time. When he again informs us that the time needed for the creation of living bodies is far greater by comparison, he is left with no right whatsoever to discuss his cumulative bit by bit theories. It is absolutely a sheer waste of his time and that of his readers because what he wants to pack into a mere one billion years—1 with 9 noughts written on its right side if taken as an American billion, or 1 with 12 noughts as the British write it—could not have been packed by nature in a much larger number of years. In truth, the figure which has to be available for life with its cumulative bit by bit production could be as great as 1 with 1000 noughts written on its right side which in reality amounts to a total denial of existence. The reality of existence must therefore be dismissed by Professor Dawkins as a mere illusion.
HE FINAL ANALYSIS Professor Dawkins has made in his concluding chapter relates to a choice between the belief in a deity and a belief in natural selection. Who is the creator, that is to be identified. Whether he can discover Him or not, he certainly has no right to replace God with natural selection. Natural selection cannot be referred to as a creator, because it does not create but only works on whatever has already been created. It is exasperating to find Professor Dawkins pointing his finger at a mere principle, without a personal identity, to be the deity—a principle which is deaf, dumb and blind, and has no physical or spiritual existence. That most certainly is not the creator. If Professor Dawkins persists in denying the existence of any Creator, while he has no right to replace him with a principle, he once again has only two logical options. Either he should admit that creation exists, yet he has failed to identify the creator; or he should proclaim that there is no Creator yet the creation exists. This would be tantamount to saying that there is the book The Blind Watchmaker but there has never been a Professor Dawkins who penned it!
In our previous chapter we have described the anatomy of an eye and the whole optic system. When we read Professor Dawkins’ remarks on the creation of the eye, they appeared so trivial and deficient in a sense that we are deeply disappointed. He has depended entirely on his cumulative bit by bit theory to be at work, a theory which we have roundly rejected in accordance with his own admissions. Still we should like to draw his attention to the fact that to treat the eyeball as an independent organ is wrong. It is an interdependent part of a full optic system otherwise it ceases to play any role in the faculty of sight. Just to indulge in the futile exercise of proving that a small percentage of vision is better than no vision at all does not serve any purpose. To prove that vision is possible even without a lens is just as meaningless. We have described the human optic system with scientific details provided by scientists. It is to this system that his bit by bit theory should be attempted to be applied—an exercise which he manages to avoid.
Let him begin for instance with the retina and inform the world how the rods and cones it contains evolved bit by bit and nanometre by nanometre to ultimately begin to recognize colours, light and darkness. Their recognition, if confined to themselves, could not have served any purpose. He should begin to apply his bit by bit theory to all the components of the system which play a collective role in realizing what rods and cones have achieved. A rudimentary weak eye with a mere 1% vision is still a weak eye but half an eye is no eye at all. Retina, rods, cones, the ganglia and the sequence in which they are placed, are essential for conveying the pulses to the brain. Many more such things about their complexities defy the wisdom of Professor Dawkins’ theory. We have every right to request Professor Dawkins to suggest how, and for how long, the retina waited for its completion? If cones were not pre-designed with all their amazing potential, if rods were not preconceived with the fascinating scientific know-how which is visible in them, how could they have ever created themselves falling into step with each other in perfect harmony far more exquisitely than the best orchestral symphony ever conceived by man? Even the minutest constituents of this grand organ require an in-depth study in their own right. How they developed slowly and gradually into meaningful components, completely synchronized to become an eyeball, to begin to perform the functions which are bred into them is incomprehensible. These are just a few questions but there are hundreds and hundreds of questions which have to be answered by godless naturalists. The entire eyeball, including all the delicate and complex features it contains has to be explained in the light of his bit by bit theory. The optic system is far more complex and harmonized than any layman can ever understand. Even Professor Dawkins, a great naturalist that he is, is only hovering above its surface. But to cover the surfaces alone is a supreme task. So he has a lot more work to do in the same field. There are so many other illustrations from the sensory systems in animal life, which despite being hundreds of million years remote from us, present the same fundamental structural design. The differences are only peripheral but they too are precisely designed for the specific requirements of the animals which possess them.
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England.
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.xiii
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.24
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.25
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, pp.25–26
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.35
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.36
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.37
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.39
- DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.4