Quotations are selected from this pool (and other quotation pools) in a pseudorandom way every hour and inserted at the top and bottom of some of the major pages on this website. Feel free to copy any of these quotes and paste them for whatever purpose you please, including on your own website, blog, social media page or forum debate posts.
We have vexed and bothered every plant and every animal on every continent.~ Diane Ackerman (1948-10-07 age:68)
100,000 Times the Extinction Rate
For millions of years, on average, one species became extinct every century.… We are now heaving more than a thousand different species of animals and plants off the planet every year.~ Douglas Adams (1952-03-11 2001-05-11 age:49), author of Last Chance to See
Objection to Evolution is Not Scientific
The fundamental religious objection to the theory of evolution is not scientific but moral. [Fundamentalists believe that] evolutionary theory must be opposed because it leads to rampant immorality, on both the personal and political scales. The basic cause of this immorality is atheism.~ Elizabeth S. Anderson (1959-12-05 age:57)
If God is dead, is everything permitted?
Or put a bit more scornfully, the rejection of evolution has nothing to do with the quality of the scientific evidence for evolution. Fundamentalists are not concerned with precision and truth, but with the imagined negative consequences of accepting the glaring scientific truth. They believe they must defend the lies of their religion or else social order will collapse. They refuse to notice that religious people on average behave much worse than atheists. They fail to notice the atheist Scandinavian countries have far less violence and crime than Christian ones. They fail to notice religious conflict, religious superstition and religious wilful ignorance are the problem, not what is holding the world together. For example, nearly all climate change deniers hold their contrafactual positions because of erroneous religious beliefs. Christians trying to promote war in Israel are motivated by bogus religious prophesies. Further, genocide is usually between rival religious groups each convinced the other is subhuman. The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture makes people deny reality.
One of the biggest flaws in the common conception of the future is that the future is something that happens to us, not something we create.~ Michael Anissimov (1985 age:31)
A sabre tooth tiger was chasing two cavemen. One shouted to the other We’ll never outrun this tiger. The other panted back I don’t have to. I only have to outrun you.~ Anonymous
Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.~ Marcus Aurelius (121-04-26 AD 180-03-17 AD age:58)
What is striking is these things [patterns in nature, e.g. fish stripes] do look like something that has been crafted. We are conditioned to think that a pattern needs a patterner and so at first glance it seems incredible to us that nature is able to do this, without any sort of blueprint, without any sort of plan. These patterns organise themselves, that is the amazing thing.~ Philip Ball (1962 age:54), quantum physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1969
All Science is Lies
God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.~ Paul C. Broun (1946-05-14 age:71) Republican congressman from Georgia.
The bible says the earth is 6,000 years old, and there is not a scrap of evidence to support that ancient speculation. I kid you not. This man is chairman of The Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight which is one of five subcommittees of the United States House Committee on Science and Technology. He, of course, refuses to provide any proof that the world’s scientists have conspired to lie. He of course refuses to provide any alternate explanation for the hard evidence that pushed Christian scientists to their current views. He, of course, refuses to provide any evidence the Old Testament is a reliable source of information given its many errors, inconsistencies and omissions. He is a Christian lunatic of the worst kind, completely deluded and impervious to reality. Normally it takes Islam to rot a brain that badly. He is the last person who should be hold that chairmanship.
The Extinct Don’t Change
Only the extinct don’t change.~ Chris Chandler
Progress Is Rolling
At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved — if it can be achieved at all — within the next few hundred years.~ Arthur C. Clarke (1917-12-16 2008-03-19 age:90) 1983
Survival Value Of Intelligence
It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.~ Arthur C. Clarke (1917-12-16 2008-03-19 age:90)
Fossilisation Requires Rare Conditions
Fossilisation requires extremely rare conditions. That is why many species leave no record at all.~ Dr. Rodolfo Coria (1959 age:57)
Only about 0.01% of animal species that have ever lived left a fossil.
Faith is Both Virtue and Vice
In religion faith is a virtue; in science it’s a vice.~ Jerry A. Coyne (1949 age:67)
[As of 2012] we know only about 1% of the dinosaurs that ever lived.~ Dr. Philip J. Currie (1942-01-08 age:75) University of Alberta
An American [new world] Monkey after getting drunk on Brandy would never touch it again and thus is much wiser than most men.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work, worthy of the interposition of a deity. More humble, and I believe truer, to consider him created from animals.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73) Letter to J. D. Hooker, 1871-02-01
Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work, worthy the interposition of a great deity. More humble and I believe true to consider him created from animals.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Beliefs in Spirits
But it cannot be doubted that Hindoos, Mahomadans and others might argue in the same manner and with equal force in favour of the existence of one God, or of many Gods, or as with the Buddhists of no God. There are also many barbarian tribes who cannot be said with any truth to believe in what we call God: they believe indeed in spirits or ghosts and it can be explained, as Tyler and Herbert Spencer have shown, how such a belief would be likely to arise.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
I find it infuriating that Christians refuse to acknowledge their evidence for god is any different than that of any other religion. If there were anything superior about Christianity, surely others would notice that. They don’t . They always champion the local religion. Christianity is just another religion. There is nothing about it that makes it superior to other religions. The claim that Christianity is superior to other religions is a groundless as claiming that Presbyterians are superior to other flavours of Christian.
What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low and horribly cruel work of nature!~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Religious people wish nature/God were kind and nurturing, so they ignore all the contrary evidence and just pretend it is.
Climate plays an important part in determining the average numbers of a species, and periodical seasons of extreme cold or drought seem to be the most effective of all checks. I estimated (chiefly from the greatly reduced numbers of of nests in the spring) that the winter of 1854-55 destroyed ⅘ of the birds in my own grounds; and this is a tremendous destruction, when we remember that 10% is an extraordinarily severe mortality from epidemics with man. The action of climate seems at first sight to be quite independent of the struggle for existence; but in so far as climate chiefly acts in reducing food, it brings on the most severe struggle between the individuals, whether of the same or distinct species, which subsist on the same kind of food. Even when climate, for existence extreme cold, acts directly, it will be the least vigorous individuals, or those who have got the least food through the advancing winter, which will suffer most.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73) Origin Of Species
Darwin’s Natural Selection Algorithm
If, during the long course of ages and under varying conditions of life, organic beings vary at all in the several parts of their organisation, and I think this cannot be disputed; if there be, owing to the high geometric powers of increase of each species, at some age, season or year, a severe struggle for life, and this certainly cannot be disputed; then, considering the infinite complexity of the relations of all organic beings to each other and to their conditions of existence, causing an infinite variety in structure, constitution, and habits, to be advantageous to them, I think it would be a most extraordinary fact if no variation ever had occurred useful to each being’s own welfare, in the same way as so many variations have occurred useful to man. But if variations useful to any organic being do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterized will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong principle of inheritance they will tend to produce offspring similarly characterized. This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Definition of Fittest
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Definition of Natural Selection
I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Descent of Man
Man is descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
The appearance of new forms and the disappearance of old forms, both natural and artificial, are bound together.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designed the Ichneumonidae (parasitic wasps) with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should place with mice.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Inconsistent Attitude to Natural Law
We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universes, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
No such organ has ever been found. This is an example of falsifiability, a way in principle of proving evolution wrong. All true theories are falsifiable.
In the latter part of my school life I became passionately fond of shooting and I do not believe that anyone could have shown more zeal for the most holy cause than I did for shooting birds. How well I remember killing my first snipe and my excitement was so great that I had much difficulty in reloading my gun from the trembling of my hands. This taste long continued and I became a very good shot.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
At least in Darwin’s case, shooting was motivated by sadistic pleasure.
Killing an Error
To kill an error is as good a service as and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Man is Doomed
Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
No fact in the long history of the world is so startling as the wide and repeated extermination of its inhabitants.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Misery of the Poor
If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man… Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Man tends to increase at a greater rate than his means of subsistence.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Result of Ignorance
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence, than it does knowledge.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73) Origin Of Species
There is no Hierarchy
It is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another. We consider those, when the cerebral structure/intellectual faculties most developed, as highest. A bee doubtless would when the instincts were.~ Charles Darwin (1809-02-12 1882-04-19 age:73)
Big animals tend to have big brains, partly just because they are big. This does not mean in any interesting sense that they are cleverer. Elephants have bigger brains that humans but a probably with some justice we like to think that we are cleverer than elephants.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
I think Dawkins is over simplifying. Consider how small a brain a T-Rex needed. Human musculature is not that much more complex than a T-Rex. You need a sophisticated way to allocate brain power to running the body vs thinking. We humans as individuals are not that impressive thinkers. It is only organised in massive numbers embedded in culture do we do much clever. We are the analogy of ants. We tend to overestimate the thinking power of an individual human. Further it is our hands, not our brains that make us so good at manipulation and construction. The creators of systems of measuring brain capability fiddle the formulas to make man come out of top. What you really want is the weight of brain left over for thinking after dealing with controlling the body, sight, hearing/echo location etc. The absolute weight is what counts, not its ratio in any way to body weight.
The Blind Watchmaker
A true watchmaker has foresight. He designs his cogs and springs and plans their interconnections with a future purpose in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind unconscious automatic process, which Darwin discovered and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life has no purpose in mind. It has no mind, no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the rôle of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
I have two problems with this analogy.
- Evolution does have a direction and in that sense a purpose. It winnows out less adapted individuals. However, it cannot plot and plan for the future. It can’t think to come up with new designs; it can just stumble on them and adopt them.
- A blind watchmaker has all the foresight of a sighted one. The analogy you want is an incompetent watchmaker who designs by trial and error.
The Branching Tree
There are clues from the distribution of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) codes throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, of protein sequences, of morphological characters that have been analyzed in great detail. Everything fits with the idea that we have here a simple branching tree. The distribution of species on islands and continents throughout the world is exactly what you’d expect if evolution were a fact. The distribution of fossils in space and in time are exactly what you would expect if evolution were a fact. There are millions of facts all pointing in the same direction and no facts pointing in the wrong direction.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
Cause of Life
Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
Molecular evidence suggests that our common ancestor with chimpanzees lived, in Africa, between five and seven million years ago, say half a million generations ago. This is not long by evolutionary standards… in your left hand you hold the right hand of your mother. In turn she holds the hand of her mother, your grandmother. Your grandmother holds her mother’s hand and so on… How far do we have to go until we reach our common ancestor with the chimpanzees? It is a surprisingly short way. Allowing one yard per person, we arrive at the ancestor we share with chimpanzees in under 482.80 km (300 miles).~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The God Delusion A Devil’s Chaplin 2003
Of course it’s true that the universe has no mind, no feelings no personality. The universe is not out to get you. The universe is not out to make things difficult or bad for you, nor is it out to make things good for you. You have no right to expect any sort of comfort or the reverse from the universe. The universe does not know or care about your existence. Some people find that hard to accept.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
The Creator Made A Mess
The overwhelming impression you get from surveying any part of the innards of a large animal is that it is a mess! Not only would a designer never have made a mistake like that nervous detour [the nerve from the brain to the larynx that detours via the heart]; a decent designer would never have perpetuated anything of the shambles that is the criss-crossing maze of arteries, veins, nerves, intestines, wads of fat and muscle, mesenteries and more.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
Definition of Biology
Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
Evidence for Evolution
Even if we didn’t have a single fossil, the evidence for evolution would be absolutely secure because of comparative anatomy, comparative biochemistry and geographical distribution.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76) source, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
Evolution of the Dog
In a few hundreds or at most thousands of years we have gone from wolf to pekinese, bulldog, chihuahua… Let’s represent the total time it took to evolve all these breeds of dogs from a wolf by one ordinary walking pace. Then on the same scale, how far would you have to walk in order to get back to Lucy and her kind? — the earliest human fossils that unequivocally walked upright. The answer is about 3.22 km (2 miles). And how far would you have to walk in order to get back to the start of evolution on earth? The answer is that you would have to slog in out all the way from London to Baghdad. Think of the total quantity of change involved in going from wolf to chihuahua and multiply it up, by the number of walking paces between London and Baghdad. This will give some intuitive idea of the amount of change we can expect in real natural evolution.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
Evolution is a Fact
Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips… continue the list as long as desired. That didn’t have to be true. It is not self-evidently, tautologically, obviously true and there was a time when most people, even educated people, thought it wasn’t. It didn’t have to be true, but it is. We know this because a rising flood of evidence supports it. Evolution is a fact, and [my] book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
This means that people who do study the evidence and pretend to reject it are bald faced liars with a crooked, disreputable agenda.
Evolution is a Fact
Evolution is a fact. It is documented by science to the same degree Napoléon is by history.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
Evolution Is Not Random
This belief that Darwinian evolution is random is not merely false, it is the exact opposite of the truth. Chance is a minor ingredient in the Darwinian recipe. The most important ingredient is cumulative selection, which is quintessentially non-random.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
Evolution is True
Evolution is true in whatever sense you accept it as true that New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
Evolution — the Only Theory
The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
The Evolutionary Accident
Religion is nothing more than a useless and sometimes dangerous, evolutionary accident. Religious behavior may be a misfiring, an unfortunate byproduct of an underlying psychological propensity which in other circumstances is, or once was, useful.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
Gaps in The Fossil Record
We don’t need fossils to prove that evolution is a fact.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
So it follows that any gap in the fossil record is not at all problematic. Only about 0.01% of animal species that have ever lived left a fossil.
Inefficiency of Tree Evolution
In a typical mature forest, the canopy can be thought of as an aerial meadow, just like a rolling grassland prairie, but raised on stilts. The canopy is gathering solar energy at much the same rate as a grassland prairie would. But a substantial proportion of the energy is wasted by being fed straight into the stilts, which do nothing more useful than loft the meadow high in the air, where it picks up exactly the same harvest of photons as it would — at far lower cost — if it were laid flat on the ground.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution Page 210.
Large Numbers Boggle Probability Estimates
The large numbers proverbially furnished by astronomy and the large time spans characteristic of geology combine to turn topsy-turvy our everyday estimates of what is expected and what is miraculous.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
Opponents of Evolution are Religiously Motivated
Pretend as they will to scientific credentials, the anti-evolution propagandists are always religiously motivated even if they try to buy credibility by concealing the fact.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
Pretend as they will to scientific credentials, the anti-evolutionist propagandists are always religiously motivated, even if they try to buy credibility by concealing the fact.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
The Purpose of the Universe
What is the purpose of the universe is a silly question.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76)
The purpose of a corpse to a worm, is food. The purpose is not inherent in the corpse. When you ask what is the purpose of the universe, you need to specify for whom. When Christians talk about the purpose of the universe, they are implying god’s purpose, which is meaningless unless there actually is a god. Christians similarly talk about the purpose of life, imagining there is a god who assigns the same purpose to all humans. To me, it is obvious, and highly convenient, that you can select your own purpose, and change it any time you want.
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease… In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The God Delusion River out of Eden 1995
The first Australopithecine to be discovered, and the type specimen of the genus, was the so-called Taung Child. At the age of three and a half the Taung Child was eaten by an eagle. The evidence is that damage marks to the eye sockets of the fossil are identical to marks made by modern eagles on modern monkeys as they rip out their eyes. Poor little Taung Child, shrieking on the wind as you were borne aloft by the aquiline fury, you would have found no comfort in your destined fame, two and a half million years on, as the type specimen of Australopithecus africanus. Poor Taung mother, weeping in the Pliocene.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
We are going to die and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76) We Are Going To Die , Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
The Vain Conceit
To illustrate the vain conceit that the universe must be somehow pre-ordained for us because we are so well-suited to live in it, he [Douglas Adams] mimed a wonderfully funny imitation of a puddle of water, fitting itself snugly into a depression in the ground, the depression uncannily being exactly the same shape as the puddle.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76) Lament for Douglas 2001-05-14
Why Are There Still Monkeys
It is an extremely common question, if we are descended from apes why haven’s all the apes turned into humans? I am not sure it would really matter for the Good News club. They perpetuate this particular piece of nonsense. We are all cousins. We are not descended from chimpanzees. Chimpanzees and humans are descended from a common ancestor who lived about 6 million years ago. That common ancestor gave rise to an number of descendants including humans, including chimpanzees, including bonobos, including a fair number of extinct animals. There is no more reason to say that chimpanzees should turn into humans than that humans should turn into chimpanzees. [Both are adapted to their own different niches.] The whole question is complete nonsense. If would be a bit like saying, if Americans come from Europeans, why are there still Europeans.~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76) Colorado Springs interview with Dr. Dawkins
The Best Idea, Ever
If I were to give an award for the single best idea anyone has ever had, I’d give it to Darwin, ahead of Newton and Einstein and everyone else. In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning, and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law. But it is not just a wonderful scientific idea. It is a dangerous idea. My admiration for Darwin’s magnificent idea is unbounded, but I, too, cherish many of the ideas and ideals that it seems to challenge, and want to protect them.~ Daniel C. Dennett (1942-03-28 age:75)
The Best Idea, Ever
Natural selection was the best single idea anyone ever had.~ Daniel C. Dennett (1942-03-28 age:75)
Natural Selection vs Sexual Selection
Natural selection is engineering; sexual selection is art.~ What Females Want and Males Will Do PBS (Public Broadcasting System) Nature Documentary
Fish Evolve To Match Fishermen
Fishermen prefer to catch big fishes and fishing regulations tend to prohibit the harvest of the smallest individuals of a species. In response, fishes have evolved the ability to reproduce at a smaller size and/or younger age. If they can breed before they get big enough to be harvested their genes stand a much higher chance of being passed on. American plaice, Atlantic cod, Atlantic herring, Atlantic salmon, brook trout and chinook salmon all have appeared to grow more slowly and/or to reproduce at smaller sizes where and when they are heavily fished. Once, a large cod could eat a small boy. Now, a small boy could almost eat an entire cod.~ Rob Dunn Scientific American
How Long To Evolve?
I believe that life can go on forever. It takes a million years to evolve a new species, ten million for a new genus, one hundred million for a class, a billion for a phylum — and that's usually as far as your imagination goes. In a billion years, it seems, intelligent life might be as different from humans as humans are from insects. But what would happen in another ten billion years? It's utterly impossible to conceive of ourselves changing as drastically as that, over and over again. All you can say is, on that kind of time scale the material form that life would take is completely open. To change from a human being to a cloud may seem a big order, but it's the kind of change you’d expect over billions of years.~ Freeman Dyson (1923-12-15 age:93)
Assault on Hearing
The sanitary and mechanical age we are now entering makes up for the mercy it grants to our sense of smell by the ferocity with which it assails our sense of hearing.~ Havelock Ellis (1859-02-02 1939-07-08 age:80)
Definition of Progress
What we call Progress is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.~ Havelock Ellis (1859-02-02 1939-07-08 age:80)
Disgust for Apes
It is curious how there seems to be an instinctive disgust in Man for his nearest ancestors and relations. If only Darwin could conscientiously have traced man back to the Elephant or the Lion or the Antelope, how much ridicule and prejudice would have been spared to the doctrine of Evolution.~ Havelock Ellis (1859-02-02 1939-07-08 age:80).
All humans have HERVs (human endogenous retroviruses) [ancient viruses embedded our DNA ] in our cells — lots of them — about 443,000, which is a about twenty-two times the number of genes we have. They constitute 8.29% of our DNA.~ Dr. Daniel J. Fairbanks (1956 age:60) Evolving: The Human Effect and Why It Matters
Opponents of evolution are constantly at work to invent so-called alternative theories and to craft legislation that, if enacted and enforced, would require science teachers to teach unscientific notions as if they were legitimate.~ Dr. Daniel J. Fairbanks (1956 age:60) Evolving: The Human Effect and Why It Matters
Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem
The more highly adapted an organism becomes, the less adaptable it is to any new change.~ Ronald A. Fisher (1890-02-17 1962-07-29 age:72) Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem
Species without borders [blocks to invasive species spreading] means far fewer species.~ National Geographic (1888-01-27 age:129) Invaders episode of the Strange Days on Planet Earth documentary series. Invasive species wipe out all the native species.
What’Random; What’s Not
Mutation is utterly random, but selection is extremely choosy!~ Dr. Ursula Goodenough (1943-03-16 age:74), Mind and Life conference 2002
Artificial Selection Speed
If a wolf — with a time frame so short that it can almost be entirely recorded and by means so simple that they can be mastered by illiterate people — could be transformed through selective breeding into everything from a Great Dane to a toy Pomeranian, then surely Nature, working on a time scale so much greater, could produce even more dramatic transformations — say monkey into man.~ Adam Gopnik (1956-08-24 age:60) 2006-10-23 Rewriting Nature, Charles Darwin, Natural Novelist, The New Yorker. Artificial selective breeding is just a particularly dramatic type of natural selection, where intense interactions between species creates an environment that shapes with a strong breeding advantage to change in a particular direction.
We long to situate ourselves on a benevolent, warm, furry, encompassing planet, created to provide our material needs and constructed for our dominion and delectation. Unfortunately, this pipedream of succor from the realm of meaning (and therefore the magisterium of religion), imposes definite and unrealistic demands upon the factual construction of nature (under the magisterium of science). But nature, who is as she is and who existed in earthly form for 4.5 billion years before we arrived to impose our interpretations upon her, greets us with sublime indifference and no preference for accommodating our yearnings.~ Dr. Stephen Jay Gould (1941-09-10 2002-05-20 age:60), Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life
What is a Scientific Truth
A scientific truth is an assertion for which there is so much evidence it would perverse to deny it.~ Dr. Stephen Jay Gould (1941-09-10 2002-05-20 age:60)
God’s Fondness for Beetles
The Creator would appear as endowed with a passion for stars, on the one hand and for beetles on the other, for the simple reason that there are nearly 300,000 species of beetle known and perhaps more, as compared with somewhat less than 9,000 species of birds and a little over 10,000 species of mammals. Beetles are actually more numerous than the species of any other insect order. That kind of thing is characteristic of nature.~ J.B.S. Haldane (1892-11-05 1964-12-01 age:72)
Before the Big Bang
Asking what happened before the big bang is like asking about points on earth south of the south pole.~ Stephen Hawking (1942-01-08 age:75)
Intelligence Survival Value
It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.~ Stephen Hawking (1942-01-08 age:75)
The life we have on Earth must have spontaneously generated itself. It must therefore be possible for life to exist spontaneously elsewhere in the universe.~ Stephen Hawking (1942-01-08 age:75)
According to M-theory, ours is not the only universe. Instead M-theory predicts a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law.~ Stephen Hawking (1942-01-08 age:75) The Grand Design
The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit. That would be like saying that you would disappear if I closed my eyes.~ Stephen Hawking (1942-01-08 age:75)
We Would Not Want to Meet Us
We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.~ Stephen Hawking (1942-01-08 age:75)
The Stork Theory
If we are going to teach creation science as an alternative to evolution, then we should also teach the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction.~ Judith Hayes
Plants, in a state of nature, are always warring with one another, contending for the monopoly of the soil, — the stronger ejecting the weaker, — the more vigorous overgrowing and killing the more delicate. Every modification of climate, every disturbance of the soil, every interference with the existing vegetation of an area, favours some species at the expense of others.~ Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-06-30 1911-12-10 age:94) Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Responding to the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce’s question whether he traced his descent from an ape on his mother’s or his father’s side: If then, said I, the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessing great means and influence and yet who employs those faculties for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion — I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.~ Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-05-04 1895-06-29 age:70)
I know no study which is so unutterably saddening as that of the evolution of humanity, as it is set forth in the annals of history. Out of the darkness of prehistoric ages man emerges with the marks of his lowly origin strong upon him. He is a brute, only more intelligent than the other brutes, a blind prey to impulses, which as often as not led him to destruction; a victim to endless illusions, which make his mental existence a terror and a burden and fill his physical life with barren toil and battle.~ Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-05-04 1895-06-29 age:70)
MisconceptionEvolution is a theory about the origins of life.
CorrectionAlthough certainly contiguous with evolution, research into life’s origins is not usually considered evolutionary research.
It’s an active and quite contentious field, one full of open questions and competing hypotheses. Did life emerge as a simple system in a complex environment or as a complex system in a simple environment? Was replication first or was metabolism first? Were cells latecomers or early arrivals? Did it happen in a warm little pond or at a hydrothermal vent or on a different planet altogether? To a scientist or science enthusiast, these types of questions are exactly what make origins-of-life research so fascinating.~ Stephanie Keep NCSE (National Center for Science Education)
Intelligence Leads to Extinction
I am sorry to say that there is too much point to the wisecrack that life is extinct on other planets because their scientists were more advanced than ours.~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-05-29 1963-11-22 age:46)
Why Is There Matter?
If a particle and an antiparticle meet, they disappear by emitting two photons or a pair of some other particles. In the primordial soup that existed after the Big Bang, there were almost equal amounts of particles of antiparticles, except for a tiny asymmetry: one particle per 10 billion. As the universe cooled, the particles and antiparticles annihilated each other in equal numbers, and only a tiny number of particles remained; this tiny amount is all the stars and planets, and gas in today’s universe.~ Alexander Kusenko (1966-03-01 age:51)
Historians will have to face the fact that natural selection determined the evolution of cultures in the same manner as it did that of species.~ Konrad Zacharias Lorenz (1903-11-07 1989-02-27 age:85)
I have found the missing link between the higher ape and civilized man: It is we.~ Konrad Zacharias Lorenz (1903-11-07 1989-02-27 age:85)
Natural Selection of Cultures
Historians will have to face the fact that natural selection determined the evolution of cultures in the same manner as it did that of species.~ Konrad Zacharias Lorenz (1903-11-07 1989-02-27 age:85)
Origin of Vices
Most of the vices and mortal sins condemned today correspond to inclinations that were purely adaptive or at least harmless in primitive man.~ Konrad Zacharias Lorenz (1903-11-07 1989-02-27 age:85)
We are the Missing Link
I have found the missing link between the higher ape and civilized man: It is we.~ Konrad Zacharias Lorenz (1903-11-07 1989-02-27 age:85)
Dress to be Ignored
Researchers proved how relatively unimportant women’s clothes are [in the dating game]. Save your expensive clothes to impress your girl friends or your prospective employer.~ Leil Lowndes
We are not designed by natural selection to solve all the deep problems of the universe.~ Colin McGinn (1950-03-10 age:67)
Organic Chemistry is Universal
There appears to be a universal organic chemistry, one that is manifest in interstellar space, occurs in the atmospheres of the major planets of the solar system, and must also have occurred in the reducing atmosphere of the primitive Earth.~ Dr. Stanley L. Miller (1930-03-07 2007-05-20 age:77)
Off the Charts
Kingston, Jamaica, will probably be off-the-charts hot in 2024 — permanently. Other places will soon follow. Singapore in 2028. Mexico City in 2031. Cairo in 2036. Phoenix and Honolulu in 2043. And eventually the whole world in 2047.~ Camilo Mora (1975-03-01 age:42) source
The Fermi Paradox is an observation by the famous physicist Enrico Fermi, who created the first controlled atomic chain reaction under the auspices of the Manhattan Project, that if technological civilizations have even a slight probability of evolving, their presence should be visible throughout the universe. … The sky should be filled with the cosmic equivalent of roaring traffic and flashing neon signs. But instead we perceive a great silence.~ Hans P. Moravec (1948-11-30 age:68), Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence
Personalities statistically cluster into five basic factors; extraversion (versus shyness); neuroticism (anxiety); agreeableness; conscientiousness; and openness to experience. With the exception of conscientiousness, these personality factors have been found in sixty other species, including octopuses.~ Daniel Nettle
Where does your father keep his barnacles?~ One of Charles Darwin’s children to a school friend.
Definition of Natural Selection
Natural Selection is the process by which random evolutionary changes are selected for by nature in a consistent, orderly non-random way.~ Jon Perry What is Natural Selection
Artificial selection (plant and animal breeding) is just a special kind of natural selection where nature takes the form of a farmer, a particularly diabolical predator.
Baggage To Understanding the Mind
Why are empirical questions about how the mind works so weighted down with political and moral and emotional baggage?~ Steven Pinker (1954-09-18 age:62)
Most intellectuals today have a phobia of any explanation of the mind that invokes genetics.~ Steven Pinker (1954-09-18 age:62)
Intuition and Scale
There is no guarantee that our minds will intuitively understand phenomena at scales of time and space that are very different from our own experience — hundreds of millions of years, billions of light years, Ângströms … Our best science tells us that laws of reality work very differently from those at the scales we are used to thinking so disciplines like quantum mechanics, evolutionary biology, cosmology and even neuro science are deeply baffling.~ Steven Pinker (1954-09-18 age:62) in an interview with Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins interviews Stephen Pinker .
Smart = Liberal
Smarter people are more liberal. [backed by extensive research]~ Steven Pinker (1954-09-18 age:62) The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
The three-year-old, then, is a grammatical genius — master of most constructions, obeying rules far more often than flouting them, respecting language universals, erring in sensible, adult-like ways and avoiding many kinds of errors altogether.~ Steven Pinker (1954-09-18 age:62)
We have the fossils. We win.~ Colin Purrington
Marco, Marco, Marco…
At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.~ Marco Rubio (1971-05-28 age:46) Republican senator from Florida.
Rubio sits on the Science and Space Subcommittee in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees by far the largest scientific research budget in the world and yet he is utterly clueless about even the most basic science, his mind addled with religious superstition. Is this based on ignorance or political expedience? As the New York Times writes about Rubio, If his response was more proof of cunning than idiocy, it was still ludicrous.
Advantage of a Celibate Clergy
A celibate clergy is an especially good idea because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.~ Carl Sagan (1934-11-09 1996-12-20 age:62)
I can find in my undergraduate classes, bright students who do not know that the stars rise and set at night, or even that the Sun is a star.~ Carl Sagan (1934-11-09 1996-12-20 age:62)
Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.~ Carl Sagan (1934-11-09 1996-12-20 age:62)
Deflating Our Conceits
If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?~ Carl Sagan (1934-11-09 1996-12-20 age:62)
We know about things from a tenth of a millimeter to a few kilometers, from a fraction of a second to a lifetime, and so on. So when we are dealing with matters of quantum physics, particles of the size of 10-13 cm or in cosmology where we are talking about 10 billion light years or more, it is very reasonable that our intuition is not adequate to the task.~ Carl Sagan (1934-11-09 1996-12-20 age:62)
Quickening Pace of Evolution
Two billion years ago, our ancestors were microbes, a half-billion years ago, fish; a hundred million years ago, something like mice; ten million years ago, arboreal apes; and a million years ago, proto-humans puzzling out the taming of fire. Our evolutionary lineage is marked by mastery of change. In our time, the pace is quickening.~ Carl Sagan (1934-11-09 1996-12-20 age:62)
Birds that are superb underwater swimmers, such as penguins, or highly capable runners, such as ostriches, tend to lose their ability to fly. The engineering specifications for swimming or running conflict with those for flying. Most species, faced with such alternatives, are forced by selection into one adaptation or the other. Beings that hold all their options open tend to be eased off the world stage. Overgeneralization is an evolutionary mistake. But organisms that are too narrowly specialized, that perform exceedingly well but only in a single, restrictive environmental niche, also tend to become extinct… Nature has posed life a dilemma: to strike the optimum balance between the short-term and the long, to find some middle road between overspecialization and overgeneralization.~ Carl Sagan (1934-11-09 1996-12-20 age:62)
The extinction of an animal is an insult to God.~ Jewish saying
Definition of a Theory
From the scientific perspective, a theory is an explanation. Theories are the goal of science. To the general public, a theory is a guess or a hunch or something that is not important, so there is a huge difference between how we use the term in science, and how we use the term in the general public. In the general public, fact is very very important; in science, theories explain facts. So, theories trump facts and laws. Theories explain facts. Facts are observations, and observations are a dime a dozen in science. We collect observations, but what is important is to use those observations to generate theories, which explain the facts and explain the other aspects of nature. Theories don’t become facts, theories explain facts.~ Dr. Eugenie C. Scott (1945-10-24 age:71)
Evolution and science in general is in opposition to any religion that believes its holy text explains the natural world. But something interesting about religion is that people tend to pick and choose. So most Hindus don’t interpret the Vedas as disallowing evolution — but the Krishna Consciousness people do. Most Christians don’t interpret the Bible as disallowing evolution — but biblical literalists do. Muslims don’t necessarily interpret the Koran as prohibiting acceptance of evolution — but some do. The Torah in the hands of the ultra Orthodox is incompatible with evolution, yet some Jews are leading evolutionary scientists. It’s inaccurate to make sweeping generalizations about religion is X.~ Dr. Eugenie C. Scott (1945-10-24 age:71)
The Big Flaw In Intelligent Design
The Intelligent Design suffers from a serious flaw: the world is simply not always so intelligently designed! … The configuration of the retina is in three layers, with the light-sensitive rods and cones at the bottom, facing away from the light and underneath a layer of bipolar, horizontal and amacrine cells, themselves underneath a layer of ganglion cells that help carry the signal from the eye to the brain. And this entire structure sits beneath a layer of blood vessels. For optimum vision, why would an intelligent designer built an eye backwards and upside down? Because an intelligent designer did not build the eye.~ Michael Shermer (1954-09-08 age:62) Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time page xxi
These scientists [evolutionary biologists] are not arguing about whether evolution happened; they are debating the rate and mechanism of evolutionary change.~ Michael Shermer (1954-09-08 age:62) Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time page 141
It is not true that the human eye is irreducibly complex such that the removal of any part results is blindness… [implying it could not have evolved.] The human eye is the result of a long and complex pathway that goes back hundreds of millions of years to a simple eyespot where a handful of light sensitive cells provide information to the organism about an important source of light — the sun; to a recessed eyespot where a small surface indentation filled with light sensitive cells provides additional data in the form of direction; to a deep recession eyespot where additional cells at greater depth provide more accurate information about the environment, to a pinhole lens eye that is actually able to focus the image; to a complex eye found in such modern mammals as humans.~ Michael Shermer (1954-09-08 age:62) Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time page xxi
Not only is step-wise evolution of the eye possible, it happened half a dozen times independently.
Purpose of Death
Aging and death may be the species’ way of eliminating those who are no longer genetically useful but still competing for limited resources with those whose job it now is to pass along the genes.~ Michael Shermer (1954-09-08 age:62) Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time
What separates science from all other human activities… is its commitment to the tentative nature of all its conclusions.~ Michael Shermer (1954-09-08 age:62) Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time page 124.
No Goal Evolution
Species evolve exactly as if they were adapting as best they could to a changing world and not at all as if they were moving toward a set goal.~ George Gaylord Simpson (1902-06-16 1984-10-06 age:82)
The battle over the validity of evolution has been publicly posed as a scientific one. However, you will find little sign of it in scientific journals, where such quarrels as exist are over details, not the basic concept… Evolution has proved so useful as a paradigm for the origin and structure of life that it constitutes the foundation of the sciences of biology and medicine.~ Victor J. Stenger (1935-01-29 2014-08-27 age:79)
No Sign of Intelligent Design
Intelligent design in biology has been thoroughly refuted in recent years, so I need not say much. Everywhere biologists look they find evidence of randomness and haphazard arrangements that would be called incompetent if they were designed. No matter where scientists cast their eyes, the universe they see looks just like it should look if there was no divine design.~ Victor J. Stenger (1935-01-29 2014-08-27 age:79)
Honk if you understand punctuated equilibrium.~ Bumper Sticker
Modern Formulation of Evolution
An organism is an integrated collection of problem-solving devices — adaptations — that were shaped by natural selection over evolutionary time, to promote, in some specific way, the survival of the genes that directed their construction.~ Donald Symons (1942 age:74)
Hostile To Life
Most of the places in the universe will kill life instantly.~ Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958-10-05 age:58)
Not So Intelligent Design
No engineer would design an entertainment complex in the middle of a sewer system.~ Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958-10-05 age:58)
Science Removes Delusion
Science’s capacity, without equal, is to remove, as far as possible, our own urges to delude ourselves.~ Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958-10-05 age:58)
Brain is Unsuited For Survival
I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it’s a very poor scheme for survival.~ Kurt Vonnegut (1922-11-11 2007-04-11 age:84)
God of the Clap
I do feel that evolution is being controlled by some sort of divine engineer. I can’t help thinking that. And this engineer knows exactly what he or she is doing and why and where evolution is headed. That’s why we’ve got giraffes and hippopotami and the clap.~ Kurt Vonnegut (1922-11-11 2007-04-11 age:84)
Adapt or Perish
Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.~ H. G. Wells (1866-09-21 1946-08-13 age:79)
An individual cannot adapt. It perishes anyway. Only a species can adapt and persist.
The major advances in civilisation all but wreck the civilisations in which they occur.~ Alfred North Whitehead (1861-02-15 1947-12-30 age:86)
Evolutionary Catch Up
Species usually adapt to different climatic conditions at a rate of only by about 1.00°C (1.80°F) per million years. But if global temperatures are going to rise by about 4.0°C (7.2°F) over the next hundred years as predicted by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), that is where you get a huge difference in rates.~ Dr. John J. Wiens source
To survive climate change, a species would either have to evolve 10,000 times faster or migrate to new habitats.
Homo sapiens, the first truly free species, is about to decommission natural selection, the force that made us… Soon we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become.~ Edward Osborne Wilson (1929-06-10 age:88)
Intelligent Design is Not a Theory
Intelligent Design isn’t a theory, it’s the absence of a theory.~ Steve Zara
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