Famous People are Quoted Concerning Evolution
Professor of Zoology at Harvard University
Anything truly novel always seemed to appear quite abruptly in the fossil record. Toward a New Philosophy of Biology (1988) pp.529-530
The occurrence of genetic monstrosities by mutation, for instance the homeotic mutant in Drosophila, is well substantiated, but they are such evident freaks that these monsters can be designated only as 'hopeless.' They are so utterly unbalanced that they would not have the slightest chance of escaping elimination through stabilizing selection. Giving a thrush the wings of a falcon does not make it a better flier. Indeed, having all the other equipment of a thrush, it would probably hardly be able to fly at all. It is a general rule, of which every geneticist and breeder can give numerous examples, that the more drastically a mutation affects the phenotype, the more likely it is to reduce fitness. To believe that such a drastic mutation would produce a viable new type, capable of occupying a new adaptive zone, is equivalent to believing in miracles. Populations, Species, and Evolution (1970) p.253
The finding of a suitable mate for the 'hopeless monster' and the establishment of reproductive isolation from the normal members of the parental population seem to me insurmountable difficulties. Populations, Species, and Evolution (1970) p.253
There is indeed one belief that all true original Darwinians held in common, and that was their rejection of creationism, their rejection of special creation. This was the flag around which they assembled and under which they marched. When Hull claimed that “the Darwinians did not totally agree with each other, even over essentials”, he overlooked one essential on which all these Darwinians agreed. Nothing was more essential for them than to decide whether evolution is a natural phenomenon or something controlled by God. The conviction that the diversity of the natural world was the result of natural processes and not the work of God was the idea that brought all the so-called Darwinians together in spite of their disagreements on other of Darwin’s theories. One Long Argument (1991) p.99
Another aspect of the new philosophy of biology concerns the role of laws. Laws give way to concepts in Darwinism. In the physical sciences, as a rule, theories are based on laws; for example, the laws of motion led to the theory of gravitation. In evolutionary biology, however, theories are largely based on concepts such as competition, female choice, selection, succession and dominance. These biological concepts, and the theories based on them, cannot be reduced to the laws and theories of the physical sciences. “Darwin’s Influence on Modern Thought” Scientific American July 2000 p.81
Professor of Natural History and Zoology
"Does not science prove that there is no Creator?" Emphatically, science does not prove that! Actually science proves nothing about first causes at all. Introduction to Evolution (1953) p.429-430
The more I study science the more I am impressed with the thought that this world and universe have a definite design and a design suggests a designer. It may be possible to have a design without a designer, a picture without an artist, but my mind is unable to conceive of such a situation. Introduction to Evolution (1953) p. 431
I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it's been applied, will be one of the great jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has. The Advocate March 8, 1984 p. 17
Fiorello La Guardia Professor of Law; University Professor; Professor of Philosophy, NYU School of Law
I am talking about something much deeper – namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is not God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.
My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous over use of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind, Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning, and design as fundamental feature of the world. Instead they become epiphenomena, generated incidentally by a process that can be entirely explained by the operation of the non-teleological laws of physics on the material of which we and our environments are all composed. There might still be thought to be a religious threat in the existence of the laws of physics themselves, and indeed the existence of anything at all – but it seems to be less alarming to most atheists.
The Last Word (1997) pp. 130-131
The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.
A Heavenly Master governs all the world as Sovereign of the universe. We are astonished at Him by reason of His perfection; we honor Him and fall down before Him because of His unlimited power. From blind physical necessity, which is always and everywhere the same, no variety adhering to time and place could evolve, and all variety of created objects which represent order and life in the universe could happen only by the willful reasoning of its original Creator, Whom I call the Lord God. Principia
We are therefore to acknowledge one God, infinite, eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, the Creator of all things, most wise, most just, most good, most holy. "A Short Scheme on the True Religion"
Professor of Biology and History of Science
It was a failing of Haeckel as a would-be scientist that his hand as an artist altered what he saw with what should have been the eye of a more accurate beholder. He was more than once, often justifiably, accused of scientific falsification, by Wilhelm His and by many others. For only two examples, in "Anthropogenie" he drew the developing brain of a fish as curved, because that of reptiles, birds, and mammals is bent. But the vesicles of a fish brain always form in a straight line. He drew the embryonic membranes of man as including a small sac-like allantois, an embryonic organ characteristic of and larger in reptiles, birds, and some nonhuman mammals. The human embryo has no sac-like allantois at all. Only its narrow solid stock remains to conduct the umbilical blood vessels between embryo and placenta. Examples could be multiplied significantly. "Haeckel's Variations on Darwin"
The blind adoption of Haeckel's doctrines by such workers in bordering fields, and their infection with his faith that "Development is now the magic word by means of which we shall solve the riddles by which we are surrounded", is less reprehensible than their uncritical acceptance by the professional embryologists who swallowed them with as much gullibility, and who remained utterly unperturbed by the fact that Haeckel himself was never in any sense a professional embryologist. The seduction of embryology by a fanatic who expresses himself even metaphorically in terms of magic represents a darker chapter in its history. Essays in the history of Embryology and Biology (1967) pp. 153-154
Complete objectivity in science is an illusion. Because so much of one's analysis depends upon metaphysical assumptions, it should be acknowledged by this writer, and by all readers, that the answer one gives to a question depends to a great extent on the metaphysical position one has previously adopted. This is certainly true for theists and it is equally true for materialists. Frequently, the metaphysical conclusion is given as the rationale for a tortured interpretation of evidence. Theists and naturalists frequently refuse to follow evidence where it leads on the basis that to do so would result in a contradiction of their previous metaphysical conclusions. A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization (2001) p.3
In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer that for anything I knew to the contrary it had lain there forever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admissible in the second case as in the first? For this reason, and for no other, namely, that when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive -- what we could not discover in the stone -- that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g., that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. To reckon up a few of the plainest of these parts and of their offices, all tending to one result; we see a cylindrical box containing a coiled elastic spring, which, by its endeavor to relax itself, turns round the box. We next observe a flexible chain -- artificially wrought for the sake of flexure -- communicating the action of the spring from the box to the fusee. We then find a series of wheels, the teeth of which catch in and apply to each other, conducting the motion from the fusee to the balance and from the balance to the pointer, and at the same time, by the size and shape of those wheels, so regulating that motion as to terminate in causing an index, by an equable and measured progression, to pass over a given space in a given time. We take notice that the wheels are made of brass, in order to keep them from rust; the springs of steel, no other metal being so elastic; that over the face of the watch there is placed a glass, a material employed in no other part of the work, but in the room of which, if there had been any other than a transparent substance, the hour could not be seen without opening the case. This mechanism being observed -- it requires indeed an examination of the instrument, and perhaps some previous knowledge of the subject, to perceive and understand it; but being once, as we have said, observed and understood -- the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker-that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.
The more I study nature, the more I am amazed at the Creator.
Senior Paleontologist at British Museum of Natural History
These gaps might be due to failure in fossilization, or to mistakes in the genealogy, or to wrongly identified fossils; or they could be (and have been) taken to show that the theory of evolution is wrong. Evolution (1978) p.133
Taking the first part of the theory, that evolution has occurred, it says that the history of life is a single process of species-splitting and progression. This process must be unique and unrepeatable, like the history of England. This part of the theory is therefore a historical theory, about unique events, and unique events are, by definition, not part of science, for they are unrepeatable and so not subject to test. Evolution (1978) pp.145-146
Just as pre-Darwinian biology was carried out by people whose faith was in the Creator and His plan, post-Darwinian biology is being carried out by people whose faith is in, almost, the deity of Darwin. They've seen their task as to elaborate his theory and to fill the gaps in it, to fill the trunk and twigs of the tree. But it seems to me that the theoretical framework has very little impact on the actual progress of the work in biological research. In a way some aspects of Darwinism and of neo-Darwinism seem to me to have held back the progress of science. The Listener October 8, 1981 p.392
One of the reasons I started taking this anti-evolutionary view, was ... it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That's quite a shock to learn that one can be so misled so long...so for the last few weeks I've tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people. Question is: Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, 'I do know one thing -- it ought not to be taught in high school'. Keynote address at the American Museum of Natural History November 5, 1981 1 2 3
I mentioned a question (‘Can you tell me anything you know about evolution?’) that I have put to various biologists, and an answer that had been given: ‘I know that evolution generates hierarchy.’ In the framework of phylogenetic reconstruction and our current problems with it, another answer comes to mind: ‘I know that evolution generates homoplasy’ [or “convergence,” in the older jargon of systematics]. In both cases, the answer is not quite accurate. It would be truer to say, ‘I know that evolution explains hierarchy’ or ‘I know that evolution explains homoplasy.’ We must remember the distinction between the cart—the explanation—and the horse—the data. And where models are introduced in phylogenetic reconstruction, we should prefer models dictated by features of the data to models derived from explanatory theories. “Null or minimal models” (1994)
We know that it is impossible when confronted with a fossil, to be certain whether it is your ancestor, or the ancestor of anything else, even another fossil. We also know that adaptive scenarios are simply justifications for particular arrangements of fossils made after the fact, and which rely for their justification on authority rather than on testable hypotheses. In Search of Deep Time (1999) p.127
Darwin devoted two chapters of The Origin of Species to fossils, but spent the whole of the first in saying how imperfect the geological record of life is. It seemed obvious to him that, if his theory of evolution is correct, fossils ought to provide incontrovertible proof of it, because each stratum should contain links between the species of earlier and later strata, and if sufficient fossils were collected, it would be possible to arrange them in ancestor descendent sequences and so build up a precise picture of the course of evolution. This was not so in Darwin's time, and today, after more than another hundred years of assiduous fossil collecting, the picture still has extensive gaps. Evolution (1999) p.106
But there are still great gaps in the fossil record. Most of the major groups of animals (phyla) appear fully fledged in the early Cambrian rocks, and we know of no fossil forms linking them. Evolution (1999) p.109
Fossils may tell us many things, but one thing they can never disclose is whether they were ancestors of anything else. Evolution (1999) p.109
So the general theory of evolution is a historical theory, about unique events -- and unique events are, by some definitions, not part of science for they are unrepeatable and so not subject to test. Evolution (1999) p.117
Nobel Prize for Physics
Religion and science demand for their foundation faith in God. For the former (religion), God stands foremost; for the latter (science), at the end of all thought. For religion He represents a basis; for science, a crowning solution towards a world view.
Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame
Modern science was conceived, and born, and flourished in the matrix of Christian theism. Only liberal doses of self-deception and double-think, I believe, will permit it to flourish in the context of Darwinian naturalism. "Darwin, Mind and Meaning" November 17, 1997 p. 8
Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge Web
Only in the media, and in the popular and polemical scientific writing, does there persist the myth of the light of pure scientific truth confronting the darkness of obscurantist religious error. Indeed, when one reads writers like Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett, one sees that nowadays the danger of a facile triumphalism is very much a problem for the secular academy rather than the Christian Church.
You can't just stare at the world; you have to view it from a chosen point of view. Choosing the point of view involves an intellectual daring in betting that things might be this way. This means that in science, experiment and theory, fact and interpretation, are always mixed up with each other. Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity (2001) p.5
The fact that the evolutionary hypothesis is not a universal law of nature [Even a statement such as 'All vertebrates have one common pair of ancestors' is not, in spite of the word 'all', a universal law of nature; for it refers to the vertebrates existing on earth, rather than to all organisms at any place and time which have that constitution which we consider characteristic of vertebrates.] but a particular (or, more precisely, singular) historical statement about the ancestry of a number of terrestrial plants and animals is somewhat obscured by the fact that the term 'hypothesis' is so often used to characterize the status of universal laws of nature. But we should not forget that we quite frequently use this term in a different sense. For example, it would undoubtedly be correct to describe a tentative medical diagnosis as a hypothesis even though such a hypothesis is of singular and historical character rather than of the character of a universal law. In other words, the fact that all laws of nature are hypotheses must not distract our attention from the fact that not all hypotheses are laws, and that more especially historical hypotheses are, as a rule, not universal but singular statements about one individual event, or a number of such events. The Poverty of Historicism (1960) p.107
The evolution of life on earth, or of human society, is a unique historical process. Such a process, we may assume, for example, the laws of mechanics, of chemistry, of heredity and segregation, of natural selection, etc. Its description, however, is not a law but only a singular historical statement. The Poverty of Historicism (1960) p.108
The most characteristic element in this situation seemed to me the incessant stream of confirmations, of observations which "verified" the theories in question; and this point was constantly emphasized by their adherents. A Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history; not only in the news, but also in its presentation-which revealed the class bias of the paper-and especially of course in what the paper did not say. The Freudian analysts emphasized that their theories were constantly verified by their "clinical observations." As for Adler, I was much impressed by a personal experience. Once, in 1919, I reported to him a case which to me did not seem particularly Adlerian, but which he found no difficulty in analyzing in terms of his theory of inferiority feelings, although he had not even seen the child. Slightly shocked, I asked him how he could be so sure. "Because of my thousand fold experience," he replied; whereupon I could not help saying: "And with this new case, I suppose, your experience has become thousand-and-one-fold." Science, Pseudo-Science, and Falsifiability 1962
Thus the formula of the fascist brew is in all countries the same: Hegel plus a dash of nineteenth-century materialism (especially Darwinism in the somewhat crude form give to it my Haeckel). The 'scientific' element in racialism can be traced back to Haeckel, who was responsible, in 1900, for a prose competition whose subject was: 'What can we learn from the principles of Darwinism in respect of the internal and political development of a state?' The first prize was allotted to a voluminous racialist work by W. Schallmeyer. The Open Society and Its Enemies (1971) p.61
I now wish to give some reasons why I regard Darwinism as metaphysical, and as a research programme. It is metaphysical because it is not testable. One might think that it is. It seems to assert that, if ever on some plane we find life which satisfies conditions (a) and (b) then (c) will come into play and bring about in time a rich variety of distinct forma. Darwinism, however, does not assert as much as this. For assume that we find life on Mars consisting of exactly three species of bacteria with a genetic outfit similar to that of three terrestrial species. Is Darwinism refuted? By no means. We shall say that these three species were the only forms among the many mutants which were sufficiently well adjusted to survive. And we shall say the same if there is only one species (or none). Thus Darwinism does not really predict the evolution of variety. It therefore can not really explain it. At best, it can predict the evolution of variety under "favorable conditions". But it is hardly possible to describe in general terms what favorable conditions are -- except that in their presence, a variety of forms will emerge.
And yet I believe I have taken the theory almost at its best -- almost in its most testable form. One might say that it "almost predicts" a great variety of forms of life in other fields, its predictive or explanatory power is still more disappointing. Take "adaptation". At first sight natural selection appears to explain it, and in a way it does; but hardly in a scientific way. To say that a species now living is adapted to its environment is, in fact, almost tautological, indeed we use the terms "adaptation" and "selection" in such a way that we can say that, if the species were not adapted, it would have been eliminated by natural selection. Similarly, if a species has been eliminated it must have been ill adapted to the conditions. Adaptation of fitness is defined by modern evolutionists as survival value and can be measured by actual success in survival: there is hardly any possibility of testing a theory as feeble as this. Unended Quest (1992) pp.198-199
The theory assumes, on the one hand, a high degree of stability of the hereditary material, and, on the other hand, a certain degree of mutability. Both assumptions are undoubtedly correct. But they allow us to explain, whenever convenient, some phenomenon as due to hereditary stability, and another as due to mutability. And this, in an explanation, is unsatisfactory, even when the assumptions are undoubtedly true. The unsatifactoriness of the explanation lies in the fact that we can explain too much with this kind of assumption: almost everything that can happen, and even things that cannot happen. Knowledge an the body-mind Problem (1994) p.53
We know that some of the lower forms have survived for very long periods -- from a time long before the rise of higher forms -- and that those lower forms still survive. On the other hand, many of the higher forms that have risen long after the still surviving lower forms, and that survived for a considerable time, have disappeared. We cannot know why, but it may well be that they were killed by bacteria or viruses -- that is, by much lower forms. At any rate, these higher forms were less fit than many lower forms. These considerations show that a close connection between higher forms of life and fitness cannot be seriously upheld, and a very vague connection can hardly have much value as an explanation. Knowledge an the body-mind Problem (1994) p.53
Biologists have long since felt that they cannot, as a rule, find out how fit a species is by inspecting it. They also cannot compare by inspection the fitness of two competing types. There is no other way to determine their fitness than to see which of the two competing types increased in numbers and which decreases. Knowledge an the body-mind Problem (1994) p.53
A limited amount of dogmatism is necessary for progress. Without a serious struggle for survival in which the old theories are tenaciously defended, none of the competing theories can show their mettle -- that is, their explanatory power and their truth content. Intolerant dogmatism, however, is one of the main obstacles to science. Indeed, we should not only keep alternative theories alive by discussing them, but we should systematically look for new alternatives. And we should be worried whenever there are no alternatives -- whenever a dominant theory becomes too exclusive. The danger to progress in science is much increased if the theory in question obtains something like a monopoly.
But there is an even greater danger: a theory, even a scientific theory, may become an intellectual fashion, a substitute for religion, an entrenched ideology. The Myth of Framework (1994) p.16
I think that this is quite a serious problem at a time when intellectuals, including scientists, are prone to fall for ideologies and intellectual fashions. This may well be due to the decline of religion, to the unsatisfied and unconscious religious needs of our fatherless society. During my lifetime I have witnessed, quite apart from the various totalitarian movements, a considerable number of intellectually highbrow and avowedly non-religious movements with aspects whose religious character is unmistakable once your eyes are open to them. The Myth of Framework (1994) p.16
There is a difficulty with Darwinism. While Lamarckism appears to be not only refutable but actually refuted (because the kind of acquired adaptations which Lamarck envisaged do not appear to be hereditary), it is far from clear what we should consider a possible refutation of the theory of natural selection. If, more especially, we accept the statistical definition of fitness which defined fitness by actual survival, them the theory of the survival of the fittest becomes tautological, and irrefutable.
Darwin's great achievement was this, I believe. He showed that what appeared to be a purposeful adaptation may be explained by some mechanism -- such as, for example, the mechanism of natural selection. This was a tremendous achievement. But once it is shown that a mechanism of this kind is possible, we ought to try to construct alternative mechanisms, and then try to find some crucial experiments to decide between them, rather than foster the belief that the Darwinian mechanism is the only possible one. The Myth of Framework (1994) p.90
Charles Alexander Professor of Biology at Cornell University
Throughout the history of Western civilization, the most popular, powerful, and persuasive argument for the existence of God (or indeed of any purposive force, whether conscious or not) has been some version of the argument from design. We observe phenomena that appear so organized and purposive that we cannot imagine pure mechanistic causes for them and conclude that a purposive force must have been one of the causes. The exquisite adaptations of biological organisms, such as eyes, appeared incapable of mechanistic explanation. This argument, unlike the esoteric and tortured arguments of the academic theologians for the existence of God, is accessible to everyone. Creationists today use the argument form design constantly. Academe January 1987 p.51
Liberal religious leaders and theologians, who also proclaim the compatibility of religion and evolution, achieve the unlikely position by two routes. First, they retreat from traditional interpretations of God’s presence in the world, some to the extent of becoming effective atheists. Second, they simply refuse to understand modern evolutionary biology and continue to believe that evolution is a purposive process.
We are now presented with the specter of atheistic evolutionists and liberal theologians whose understanding of evolutionary process is demonstrable nonsense, joining together with the ACLU and the highest courts in the land to lambaste creationists, who are caught in an increasing bind. Evolutionary biology, as taught in public schools, shows no evidence of a purposive force of any kind. This is deeply disturbing to creationists. Yet in court, scientists proclaim that nothing in evolutionary biology is incompatible with reasonable religion. A view also supported by liberal theologians and religious leaders of many persuasions, Not only are creationists unable to have their “creation science” taught in schools, they cannot even convince the court system that evolution is in any significant way antithetical to religion; thus the courts are effectively branding their religious views as terribly misguided. No wonder creationists (somewhere near half of the population!) are frustrated with the system and want equal time for their own views, or at least to be spared bludgeoning with evolution. Academe January 1987 p. 52
Modern Science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with deterministic principles or chance. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable. The frequently made assertion that modern biology and the assumptions of the Judaeo-Christian tradition are fully compatible is false. Evolutionary Progress (1988) p. 65
A widespread theological view now exists saying that God started off the world, props it up and works through laws of nature, very subtly, so subtly that its action is undetectable. But that kind of God is effectively no different to my mind than atheism. To anyone who adopts this view I say, ‘Great, we’re in the same camp; now where do we get our morals if the universe just goes grinding on as it does?’ This kind of God does nothing outside of the laws of nature, gives us no immortality, no foundation for morals, or any of the things that we want from a God and from religion. Evolutionary Progress (1988) p. 70
Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.
Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent. "Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life” 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address 1 2
As the creationists claim, belief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism. No Free Will (1999) p.123
Embryologist at St. George’s Medical School
This is one of the worst cases of scientific fraud. It's shocking to find that somebody one thought was a great scientist was deliberately misleading. It makes me angry. What Haeckel did was to take a human embryo and copy it, pretending that the salamander and the pig and all the others looked the same at the same stage of development. They don't. These are fakes. "An Embryonic Liar" The London Times August 11, 1997 p.14
Our survey seriously undermines the credibility of Haeckel's drawings.
It looks like it's (Haeckel’s embryos) turning out to be one of he famous fakes in biology.
Editor of the Cambridge University Press Series in the Philosophy of Biology
Since making this claim, Popper himself has modified his position somewhat; but, disclaimers aside, I suspect that even now he does not really believe that Darwinism in its modern form is genuinely falsifiable. If one relies heavily on natural selection and sexual selection, simultaneously downplaying drift, which of course is what the neo-Darwinian does do, then Popper feels that one has a non-falsifiable theory. And, certainly, many followers agree that there is something conceptually flawed with Darwinism. Darwinism Defended (1982) p.133
Obviously, the present-day Creationists are people to be reckoned with, and “Scientific Creationism” is a doctrine which cannot be ignored. Darwinism Defended (1982) p.293
Nevertheless, I have now come to see that our biological origins do make a difference and that they can and should be a starting-point for philosophy today. Taking Darwin Seriously (1986) p. xiii
Now, for the first time, one could confidently suspend belief in any kind of God. The Natural development of organisms explains everything, most especially adaptation. Even if you did not want to become a full-blown atheist, you could become what Darwin's already mentioned supporter, T.H. Huxley, labeled an 'agnostic', neither believer nor disbeliever (Huxley, 1900). However, excluding or distancing God in this fashion raises with some urgency the major problems of philosophy. If God (perhaps) does not exist, wherein lay the guarantees of knowledge and of truth? Possibly all is subjective illusion. If God does not exist, wherein lays the force of morality? Why should we not do precisely what we please, cheating and lying and stealing, to serve our own ends? Dry answers by philosophers aiming for purely secular answers tended not to convince.
Popper’s new kinds of variation would not be adequate anyway. Plants show intricate adaptations – just as great as those of animals—and yet they are virtually without behaviour. Obviously, they cannot evolve in the way supposed by Popper. So why suppose it for animals? Taking Darwin Seriously (1986) p.64
The importance of the Scientific Revolution for philosophy is beyond question. Modern philosophy – the work of both rationalists and empiricists would have been impossible without great advances in physics. Analogously, therefore, we could anticipate that the Darwinian Revolution will have important implications for philosophy. Indeed, I would go further and say that we might expect Darwin's work to have even greater implications for philosophy than those of physics. The theory of evolution through natural selection impinges so directly on our own species. It is not just that we are on a speck of dust whirling around in the void but that we ourselves are no more than transformed apes. If such a realization is not to affect our views of epistemology and ethics, I do not know what is. As I said in the Preface, I find it inconceivable that it is irrelevant to the foundations of philosophy whether we are the end result of a slow natural evolutionary process, or made miraculously in God’s own image on a Friday, some 6,000 years ago. Taking Darwin Seriously (1986) p.274-275
I am sure that my Quaker background prepared me for philosophy and its cleansing actions, for from a tender age I had been used to argument rather than faith. No doubt this unique version of Christianity which has no creed or ritual or any of the other paraphernalia associated with most religions made the slide to skepticism and atheism fairly easy. Although, unlike many of my friends, neither then nor now did/do I develop a passionate hatred of Christianity. Zygon March 1994 p.26
Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion — a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint — and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it — the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today. How evolution became a religion: creationists correct?
National Post May 13, 2000.
All too often, there is a slide from science to something more, and this slide goes unmentioned -- unrealized even. For pointing this out we should be grateful for the opponents of evolution. How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? National Post May 13, 2000
Hence, Huxley saw the need to found his own church, and evolution was the ideal cornerstone. It offered a story of origins, one that (thanks to progress) puts humans at the center and top and that could even provide moral messages. The philosopher Herbert Spencer was a great help here. He was ever ready to urge his fellow Victorians that the way to true virtue lies through progress, which comes from promoting a struggle in society as well as in biology--a laissez-faire socioeconomic philosophy. Thus, evolution had its commandments no less than did Christianity. And so Huxley preached evolution-as-world-view at working men's clubs, from the podia during presidential addresses, and in debates with clerics--notably Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. He even aided the founding of new cathedrals of evolution, stuffed with displays of dinosaurs newly discovered in the American West. Except, of course, these halls of worship were better known as natural history museums. Science Mar 7 2003 p.1524
These new-style evolutionists--the mathematicians and empiricists--wanted to professionalize evolution because they wanted to study it full time in universities, with students and research grants, and so forth. However, like everyone else, they had been initially attracted to evolution precisely because of its quasi-religious aspects, regardless of whether these formed the basis of an agnostic/atheistic humanism or something to revitalize an old religion that had lost its spirit and vigor. Hence, they wanted to keep a value-impregnated evolutionism that delivered moral messages even as it strived for greater progressive triumphs. Science Mar 7 2003 p.1524
Then, sometimes from the same person, you have evolution as secular religion, generally working from an explicitly materialist background and solving all of the world's major problems, from racism to education to conservation. Consider Edward O. Wilson, rightfully regarded as one of the most outstanding professional evolutionary biologists of our time, and the author of major works of straight science. In his On Human Nature, he calmly assures us that evolution is a myth that is now ready to take over Christianity. Science March 7 2003 p.1524
This is not just a fight about dinosaurs or gaps in the fossil record; this is a fight about different worldviews. Boston Globe May 1 2005
PhD Astronomy and Astrophysics
The cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever will be. Cosmos (1980) p.1
Mae-Wan Ho and Peter Saunders
Much of the problem is that neo-Darwinism appears completely invincible to falsification by observations or by experiments, so much so that many doubt if it is a scientific theory at all. Partly, the stochastic nature of evolutionary changes must demand that there should be an unique explanation for each event, so that any difficulty raised by observations could be explained or explained away with ease, and partly, the practitioners of neo-Darwinism exhibit a great power of assimilation, incorporating any opposing viewpoint as yet another “mechanism” in the grand “synthesis”. But a real synthesis should begin by identifying conflicting elements in the theory, rather than in accommodating contradictions as quickly as they arise. “Beyond neo- Darwinism - An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution” Journal of Theoretical Biology Vol. 78, 1979 p.574
It is now approximately half a century since the neo-Darwinian synthesis was formulated. A great deal of research has been carried on within the paradigm it defines. Yet the successes of the theory are limited to the interpretation of the minutiae of evolution, such as the adaptive change in coloration of moths; while it has remarkably little to say on the questions which interest us most, such as how there came to be moths in the first place. Beyond Neo-Darwinism: An Introduction to the New Evolutionary Paradigm (1984).
Woodwardian Professor of Geology at Cambridge
I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly’ parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false & grievously mischievous -- You have deserted – after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth – the true method of induction -- & started up a machinery as wild I think as Bishop Wilkin’s locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved. Why then express them in the language & arrangements of philosophical induction? Letter to Charles Darwin November 24, 1859
There is a moral of metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly. Tis the crown & glory of organic science that it does thro’ final cause, link material to moral; & yet does not allow us to mingle them in our first conception of laws, & our classification of such laws whether we consider one side of nature of the other -- You have ignored this link; &, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two pregnant cases to break it. Were it possible (which thank God it is not) to break it, humanity in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it -- & sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history. Letter to Charles Darwin November 24, 1859
I have read Darwin’s book. It is clever, and calmly written; and therefore, the most mischievous, if its principles be false; and I believe them utterly false. It is the system of the author of the Vestiges stripped of his ignorant absurdities. It repudiates all reasoning from final cause; and seems to shut the door upon any view (however feeble) of the God of Nature as manifested in His works. From first to last it is a dish of rank materialism cleverly cooked and served up. As a system of philosophy it is not like the Tower of Babel, so daring its high aim as to seek a shelter against God’s anger; but it is like a pyramid poised on its apex. It is a system embracing all living nature, vegetable and animal; yet contradicting – point blank – the vast treasury of facts that the Author of Nature has, during the past two or three thousand years, revealed to our senses. And why is this done? For no other sold reason, I am sure, except to make us independent of a Creator. Letter to Miss Gerard January 2, 1860
I want to learn your views about creation’s law. It is clear that there has been a law governing the succession of forms. But here, by law, I mean order of succession, and not a law like that of gravitation, out of which the actual movements of our system follow by mechanical succession. In that sense I do not believe in any law of creation. The highest point we can, I think, ever reach is a law of succession of forms, each implying a harmonious reference to an archetype, and each having indications of the action of a final cause – i.e. of intelligent causation, or creation. My belief is: 1st, that Darwin has deserted utterly the inductive track – the narrow but sure track of physical truth, -- and taken the broad way of hypothesis, which has led him (spite of his great knowledge) into great delusion; and made him the advocate, instead of the historian – the teacher of error instead of the apostle of truth: 2nd, I think that (whether he intends it or not, or knows it or not) he is a teacher of that which savours of rankest materialism, and of utter rejection of the highest moral evidence, and the highest moral truth. Letter to Professor Owen March 28, 1860
Some of these facts I shall presently refer to. But I must in the first place observe that Darwin's theory is not inductive, -- not based on a series of acknowledged facts pointing to a general conclusion, -- not a proposition evolved out of the facts, logically, and of course including them. To use an old figure, I look on the theory as a vast pyramid resting on its apex, and that apex a mathematical pint. The only facts he pretends to adduce, as true elements of proof, are the varieties produced by domestication, or the human artifice of cross-breeding. We all admit the varieties, and the very wide limits of variation, among domestic animals. How very unlike are poodles and greyhounds! Yet they are of one species. Spectator April 7 1860
The pretended physical philosophy of modern days strips Man of all his moral attributes, or holds them of no account in the estimate of his origin and place in the created world. A cold atheistical materialism is the tendency of the so-called material philosophy of the present day. Not that I believe that Darwin is an atheist; though I can not but regard his materialism as atheistical; because it ignores all rational conception of a final cause. I think it untrue, because opposed to the obvious course of Nature, and the very opposite of inductive truth. I therefore think it intensely mischievous. Spectator April 7 1860
I cannot go on any further with these objections. But I will not conclude without expressing my deep aversion to the theory; because of its unflinching materialism; -- because it has deserted the inductive track, -- the only track that leads to physical truth; -- because it utterly repudiates final causes, and thereby indicates a demoralized understanding on the part of its advocates. Spectator April 7 1860
His explanations make demands on our credulity, that are utterly beyond endurance, and do not give us one true natural step towards an explanation of the phenomena – vis., the perfection of the structures, and their adaptation to their office. There is a light by which a man may see and comprehend facts and truths such as these. But Darwin willfully shuts it out from our senses; either because he does not apprehend its power, or because he disbelieves in its existence. This is the grand blemish of his works. Spectator April 7 1860
George Gaylord Simpson
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at Harvard
The origin of life was necessarily the beginning of organic evolution and it is among the greatest of all evolutionary problems. The Meaning of Evolution (1949) p.14
Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material. The Meaning of Evolution (1949) p.344
Biology that is truly such, that is, a study of living things, inevitably and always has a historical factor and the physical principles of repeatability, predictability, and parity of prediction and explanation do not apply to the historical aspects of biology.
Organisms, of course, have various characteristics in common, in degrees varying from such minimal resemblance as between, say, a man and a sequoia to the maximal resemblance of identical twins. Nevertheless, no two organisms, not even identical twins, are exactly alike. Each is the product of a history both individual and racial, and each history is different from any other, both unique and inherently unrepeatable. These aspects of biology deal not with the immanent, the inherent and changeless characteristics of the universe, but with contingency, its states, fleeting and in ceaseless change, each derived from everything that went before and conditioning everything that will follow. The possibilities of prediction are loose and limited, in principle because contingent states are unique and never exactly repeated, and even more so in practice because the historical antecedents are enormously complex and practically unknowable in complete detail. These facts also rule out the parity of prediction and explanation. Part of the explanation of what an organism is obliviously depends on what its ancestors were, what chances have occurred, and why and how. This is explanation after the fact, a posteriori, or by what has been called post-diction. It is quite different from prediction, and the possibilities of prediction in an evolutionary sequence are decidedly limited. Thus principles firmly advanced as applicable to the philosophy of science in general are not in fact applicable to some of the most important aspects of biology. In this crisis surely it is obvious that the solution is not to restrict the scope of biology, practically excluding its most characteristic and most important aspects, but to broaden the scope of scientific principle and philosophy. Biology and Man (1969) p.9-10
Evolutionists have often protested ‘unfair’ to quoting an evolutionist as if he were against evolution itself. So let it be said from the outset that the vast majority of authorities quoted are themselves ardent believers in evolution. But that is precisely the point, and the value of The Revised QUOTE BOOK. The foundations of the evolutionary edifice are hardly likely to be shaken by a collection of quotes from the many scientists who are biblical creationists. In a court of law, an admission from a hostile witness is the most valuable. Quoting the evolutionary paleontologist who admits the absence of in-between forms, or the evolutionary biologist who admits the hopelessness of the mutation/selection mechanism, is perfectly legitimate if the admission is accurately represented in its own right, regardless of whether the rest of the article is full of hymns of praise to all the other aspects of evolution. The Revised Quote Book (1990)
All K-Ar and Ar-Ar "dates" of volcanic rocks are questionable, as well as fossil "dates" calibrated by them. "Excess Argon: The Achilles ‘heel of Potassium-Argon and Argon-Argon Dating of Volcanic Rocks" Impact January 1999.
On experimental grounds, I have shown that there are no known random mutations that have added any genetic information to the organism. I go through a list of the best examples of mutations offered by evolutionists and show that each of them loses genetic information rather than gains it. One of the examples that where information is lost is the one often trotted out by evolutionists nowadays in an attempt to convince the public of the truth of evolution. That is the evolution of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
I began to speak of God, Joseph heard me out, and after a moment's silence, said: 'You know, they are fooling us, there is no God. . . .'
I was astonished at these words; I had never heard anything like it before.
'How can you say such things, Soso?' I exclaimed.
'I'll lend you a book to read; it will show you that the world and all living things are quite different from what you imagine, and all this talk about God is sheer nonsense,' Joseph said. 'What book is that?' I enquired.
'Darwin. You must read it,' Joseph impressed on me. G. Glurdjidze in The Life of Joseph Stalin (1940) p.8-9
Darwin was increasingly given credit after 1947 for finches he never saw and for observations and insights about them he never made. "Darwin and His Finches: The Evolution of a Legend" Journal of the History of Biology 15 (1982)
Entomologist and Director of the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control, Ottawa, Canada
Darwin considered that the doctrine of origin of living forms by descent with modification, even if well founded, would be unsatisfactory unless the causes at work were correctly identified, so his theory of modification by natural selection was, for him, of absolutely major importance. Since he had at the time the Origin was published no body of experimental evidence to support his theory, he fell back on speculative arguments. The argumentation used by evolutionists. Said de Quatrefages, makes the discussion of their ideas extremely difficult. Personal convictions, simple possibilities, are presented as if they were proofs, or at least valid arguments in favour of the theory. As an example de Quatrefages cited Darwin’s explanation of the manner in which the titmouse might become transformed into the nutcracker, by the accumulation of small changes in structure and instinct owing to the effect of natural selection; and then proceeded to show that it is just as easy to transform the nutcracker in to the titmouse. The demonstration can be modified without difficulty to fit any conceivable case. It is without scientific value, since it cannot be verified; but since the imagination has free rein, it is easy to convey the impression that a concrete example of real transmutation has been given. This is the more appealing because of the extreme fundamental simplicity of the Darwinian explanation. The reader may be completely ignorant of the biological processes yet he feels that he really understands and in a sense dominates the machinery by which the marvelous variety of living forms has been produced. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p. xi
Every characteristic of organisms is maintained in existence because it has survival value. But this value relates to the struggle for existence. Therefore we are not obliged to commit ourselves in regard to the meaning of difference between individuals or species since the possessor of a particular modification may be, in the race for life, moving up or falling behind. On the other hand, we can commit ourselves if we like since it is impossible to disprove our statement. The plausibility of the argument eliminates the need for proof and its very nature gives it a kind of immunity to disproof. Darwin did not show in the Origin that species had originated by natural selection; he merely showed, on the basis of certain facts and assumptions, how this might have happened and as he had convinced himself he was able to convince others. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p. xii
Darwin himself considered that the idea of evolution is unsatisfactory unless its mechanism can be explained. I agree, but since no one has explained to my satisfaction how evolution could happen I do not fell compelled to say that it has happened. I prefer to say that on this matter our investigation is inadequate. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p. xv
Evolution, if it has occurred, can in a rather loose sense be called a historical process; and therefore to show that it has occurred historical evidence is required. History in the strict sense is dependent on human testimony. Since this is not available with respect to the development of the world of life we must be satisfied with something less satisfactory. The only evidence available is that provided by the fossils. It has been pointed out by both supporters and opponents of the evolutionary doctrine, that even if we can demonstrate the chronological succession of certain organisms, this is not proof of descent. This may seem like a quibble. If we put a pair of house-flies in a cage and let them breed, we do not doubt that the live flies we find there in a month’s time are the descendants of the original pair. Similarly, if in an apparently undisturbed geological formation we find snail shells at an upper level very similar to those at a lower level, we may reasonably conclude that there is some genealogical connection between the two groups, though we cannot trace the descent from individual to individual as is required in a true family tree. Therefore we found in the geological strata a series of fossils showing gradual transition from simple to complex forms, and could be sure that they correspond to a true time-sequence, then we should be inclined to feel tat Darwinian evolution has occurred, even though its mechanism remained unknown. This is certainly what Darwin would have like to report but of course he was unable to do so. What the available data indicated was a remarkable absence of the many intermediate types that should have existed in the strata regarded as the most ancient; the absence of the principle taxonomic groups. Against these difficulties he could only suggest that the geological record is imperfect, but that if it had been perfect it would have provided evidence for his views. It is clear therefore that the paleontological evidence at his disposal, since it had not led competent naturalists acquainted with it to a belief in evolution, could only justify a suspense of judgment. The condition of fossil material is, of course unsatisfactory since soft tissues usually disappear, leaving only skeletal structures, frequently much distorted. The fossil insects of the group which I am best acquainted cannot be accurately determined, even to genera. It is evident that any organisms now extinct existed in the past but we can never know them as we know living forms. The chronological succession of the fossils is also open to doubt, for it appears generally speaking, that the age of the rocks is not determined by their intrinsic characteristics but by the fossils they contain while the succession of the fossils is determined by the succession of the strata. It was thought also that the fossils should appear in a certain order, corresponding roughly to the stage in embryological development. In fact the strata, and therefore the fossils they contain, do not always occur in the accepted order. In some areas of the world, for example, the Cambrian strata, which are regarded as the oldest fossiliferous formations, rest on the Crestaceous which are regarded as relatively recent; in other, Crestaceous or Tertiary beds appear instead of the Cambrian, on the granite. Sometimes the character of the deposits would lead to the belief that they were chronologically continuous since they can be separated only by the fossils they contain. Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain these departures from accepted theory, and thought they are often the subject of controversy among geologists I do not suggest that the problems to which they relate are insoluble.
On the other hand, it does appear to me, in the first place, that Darwin in the Origin was not able to produce paleontological evidence sufficient to prove his views but that the evidence he did produce was adverse to them; and I may note that the position is not notably different to-day. The modern Darwinian paleontologists are obliged, just like their predecessors and like Darwin, to water down the facts with subsidiary hypotheses which, however plausible, are in the nature of things unverifiable. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) pp. xvii-xix
I do not contest the fact that the advent of the evolutionary idea, due mainly to the Origin, very greatly stimulated biological research. But it appears to me that owing precisely to the nature of the stimulus, a great deal of this work was directed into unprofitable channels or devoted to the pursuit of will-o’- the-wisps. I am not the only biologist of this opinion. Darwin’s conviction that evolution is the result of natural selection, acting on small fortuitous variations, says Guyenot, was to delay the progress of investigations on evolution by half a century. Really fruitful researches on heredity did not begin until the rediscovery in 1900 of the fundamental work of Mendel, published in 1865 and owing nothing to the work of Darwin. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p. xx
A long-enduring and regrettable effect of the success of the Origin was the addiction of biologists to unverifiable speculations. 'Explanations' of the origin of structures, instincts, and mental aptitudes of all kinds, in terms of Darwinian principles, marked with Darwinian possibility but hopelessly unverifiable poured out from every research centre. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p.xxi
The success of Darwinism was accompanied by a decline in scientific integrity. This is already evident in the reckless statements of Haeckel and in the shifting, devious and histrionic argumentation of T. H. Huxley. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p. xxi
As we know, there is a great divergence of opinion among biologists, not only about the causes of evolution but even about the actual process. This divergence exists because the evidence is unsatisfactory and does not permit any certain conclusion. It is therefore right and proper to draw the attention of the non-scientific public to the disagreements about evolution. But some recent remarks of evolutionists show that they think this unreasonable. This situation, where scientific men rally to the defence of a doctrine they are unable to define scientifically, much less demonstrate with scientific rigour, attempting to maintain its credit with the public by the suppression of criticism and the elimination of difficulties, is abnormal and undesirable in science. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p.xxii
The doctrine of evolution by natural selection as Darwin formulated, and as his followers still explain it, has a strong anti-religious flavour. This is due to the fact that the intricate adaptations and co-ordinations we see in living things, naturally evoking the idea of finality and design and, therefore, of an intelligent providence, are explained, with what seems to be a rigorous argument, as the result of chance. It may be said, and the most orthodox theologians indeed hold, that God controls and guides even the events due to chance, but this supposition the Darwinians empathically reject, and it is clear that in the Origin evolution is presented as an essentially undirected process. For the majority of its readers, therefore, the Origin effectively dissipated the evidence of providential control. It might be said that this was their own fault. Nevertheless the failure of Darwin and his successors to attempt an equitable assessment of the religious issues at stake indicates a regrettable obtuseness and lack of responsibility. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p.xxiii
To establish the continuity required by the theory, historical arguments are invoked even though historical evidence is lacking. Thus are engendered those fragile towers of hypotheses based on hypotheses, where fact and fiction intermingle in an inextricable confusion. Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (1956) p.xxiv
Chinese socialism is founded upon Darwin and the theory of evolution. Kampf um Mao's Erbe (1977)
Wernher von Braun
PhD Aerospace Engineering
For me, the idea of a creation is not conceivable without invoking the necessity of design. One cannot be exposed to the law and order of the universe without concluding that there must be design and purpose behind it all. Letter to the California State board of Education September 14, 1972
My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun? Letter to the California State board of Education September 14, 1972
It is in scientific honesty that I endorse the presentation of alternative theories for the origin of the universe, life and man in the science classroom. It would be an error to overlook the possibility that the universe was planned rather than happening by chance. Letter to the California State board of Education September 14, 1972.
D. M. S. Watson
Jodrell Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University College London
The only great generalization which has so far come from the zoological studies is that of evolution -- the conception that the whole variety of animal life, and the system of inter-relationships which exists between animals and their environment, both living and non-living, have arisen by gradual change from simpler of, at any rate, different conditions.
Evolution itself is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or is supported by logically coherent arguments, but because it does fit all the facts of taxonomy, of paleontology, and of geographical distribution, and because no alternative explanation is credible.
Whilst the fact of evolution is accepted by every biologist, the mode in which it has occurred and the mechanism by which it has been brought about are still disputable. Nature August 10, 1929 p.231
That these structural differences are adaptive even in the sense that, no matter in what circumstances they arose, they do now in fact fit each form especially to its circumstances, is for the most part pure assumption. I do not know a single case in which it has been shown that the difference which separate two races of a mammalian species from one another have the slightest adaptive significance.
There is no branch of zoology in which assumption has played a greater, or evidence a less, part than in the study of such presumed adaptations. The implication which lies behind any statement that such and such a structure is an adaptation is that under the existing environmental conditions an individual possessing it has a greater chance of survival than one which has not.
The extraordinary lack of evidence to show that the incidence of death under natural conditions is controlled by small difference of the kind which separate species from one another or, what is the same thing from an observational point of view, structural features, renders it difficult to appeal to natural selection as the main or indeed an important factor in bringing about the evolutionary changes which we know to have occurred. It may be important, it may indeed be the principle which overrides all others; but at present its real existence as a phenomenon rests on an extremely slender basis.
The extreme difficulty of obtaining the necessary data for any quantitative estimation of the efficiency of natural selection makes it seem probable that this theory will be re-established, it be so, by the collapse of alternative explanations which are more easily attacked by observation and experiment. If so, it will present a parallel to the theory of evolution itself, a theory universally accepted not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true but because the only alternative, special creation is clearly incredible.
Nature August 10, 1929 pp.232-233
We know as surely as we ever shall that evolution has occurred; but we do no know how this evolution has been brought about. The data which we have accumulated are inadequate, not in quantity but in their character, to allow us to determine which, if any, of the proposed explanations is a vera causa. Nature August 10, 1929 p.234
PhD Molecular Biology PhD Cell Biology Web
Biologists have known for over a century that Haeckel faked his drawings. Icons of Evolution (2002) p.82
Whitehead Professor of Philosophy at Harvard
In the first place, there can be no living science unless there is a widespread instinctive conviction in the existence of an Order of Things. And, in particular, of an Order Of Nature. . . The inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner . . . must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God . . . My explanation is that the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology. Science and the Modern World (1925) pp. 3-4, 12-13
E. O. Wilson
Pellegrino Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard
As were many persons from Alabama, I was a born-again Christian. When I was fifteen, I entered the Southern Baptist Church with great fervor and interest in the fundamentalist religion; I left at seventeen when I got to the University of Alabama and heard about evolutionary theory. The Humanist September 1982 p.40
The still faithful might say I never knew grace, never had it; but they would be wrong. The truth is that I found it and abandoned it. In the years following I drifted away from the church, and, my attendance became desultory. My heart continued to believe in the light and the way, but increasingly in the abstract, and I looked for grace in some other setting. By the time I entered college at the age of seventeen, I was absorbed in natural history almost to the exclusion of everything else. Naturalist (1995) p.43
Nothing in science -- nothing in life, for that matter -- makes sense without theory. It is our nature to put all knowledge into context in order to tell a story, and to re-create the world by this means. Consilience (1998) p.56
I grant that scientists often fall in love with their own constructions. I know; I have. They may spend a lifetime vainly trying to shore them up. A few squander their prestige and academic political capital in the effort. In that case -- as the economist Paul Samuelson once quipped -- funeral by funeral, theory advances. Consilience (1998) p.57
Ph.D. Invertebrate Paleontology, Harvard University
The buried forests at Yellowstone National Park have long been considered to be powerful evidence of tens to hundreds of thousands of years of buried forests. The long list of similarities between the “buried forests” at Mt. Saint Helens and Yellowstone suggests that perhaps the latter forests were formed in decades not millennia. Increasing Acceptance of Global Catastrophe
What we have learned about geologic catastrophes combined with evidence in the rocks for those catastrophes have forced rather significant changes in geologic interpretation in this century. In the first half of the century a vast percentage of the rock record was interpreted to have been formed very slowly. Due in large part to valiant struggles by individual geologists -- such as the half-century struggle of J Harlan Bretz from the 1920’s on – neo-catastrophism has become popular. Neo-catastrophists interpret individual rock layers as due to distinct local catastrophes. Beginning in 1980 with the dinosaur/asteroid controversy, it has more recently become popular for geologists to consider not just local, but global catastrophes to account for the geologic evidence they see. One can be assured that for a community to have made such an incredible shift -- in spite of the strong association which exists between catastrophism and creationism -- there must be profound evidence for catastrophe throughout the geologic column. Increasing Acceptance of Global Catastrophe