Lecture 2 - Designed and designoid objects

Most objects in our world can be divided into two types: simple or designed. A pebble on a beach is a simple object, smoothed and rounded by physics alone. The same is true of stars and planets. A microscope or a calculator, on the other hand, is designed. Their existence has been moulded by humans with foresight to aid the examination of specimens, or help with mathematical sums.     

But there also exists another type of object which is neither simple, nor designed. These so-called ‘designoid’ objects have an internal and external complexity that makes us believe they have been exquisitely created for a specific purpose.

In his second lecture, Richard Dawkins explores the world of designoid objects. He reveals how the evolution of these beautiful creations has relied on natural selection over generations of time. Simple foundations have evolved into complex objects, like the inefficient webs once spun by spiders to the beautifully complex and efficient means of catching prey we see today.

But not everyone believes in evolution by natural selection. Creationists believe in the idea of a ‘watchmaker’ – a divine being responsible for creating everything in existence. But if there is such a being at work, why do designoid objects contain imperfections? Richard reminds us that designoid objects cannot come about by chance, but instead rely on a gradual process of selection that determines their function on Earth.


Natural world




Richard Dawkins



All lectures in the series