Monday, October 03, 2005


Mount Probable

Just finished reading an absorbing book called Climbing Mount Improbable by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

This is a book I would highly recommend to everyone, especially in the light of the intelligent design versus evolution controversy in the United States.

Even for someone as science-challenged as I, and whose taste in reading does not extend to anything more cerebral than John Grisham, it was a riveting read.

Dawkins explains the concept of natural selection lucidly. The thrust of the book is that over evolutionary time, nothing, no matter how complex it may seem today, is improbable. Natural selection is the designer and engineer, pushing species ever so gradually towards the higher reaches of the metaphorical Mount Improbable.

He explains in vivid detail the designing of the astonishing engineering marvel that is a spider’s web and the evolution of one of the most complex of organs, the eye, whose complexity has led many to believe that it could have only been designed by an unseen creator of supreme intelligence.

Dawkins reserves the best for the last. The relationship he describes between a fig and a wasp is a study in sublime partnership. The give-and-take relationship between the two is at one level mind-bogglingly complex and yet, at another, so fundamentally simple.

Read it!

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