Not related to the book:
There's a beautiful, awesome video, albeit with terrible music, on this subject on YouTube. Someone, not me, with way too much time on his hands wrote a program that:
Starts with pieces of a 'smashed watch' with a certain amount of affinity for each other, like organic molecules.
Simulates the bonds between the pieces.
Takes the more accurate clocks and 'breeds' them to make a new one.
The less accurate clocks are killed off.
This actually resulted in a lot of evolution, and ended up, each of several times, with extremely accurate clocks - all with no interference whatsoever from the 'designer'.
For those of you who want to watch it: