Evolution Quotes

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  • The antagonism between science and religion, about which we hear so much, appears to me to be purely factitious–fabricated, on the one hand, by short-sighted religious people who confound a certain branch of science, theology, with religion; and, on the other, by equally short-sighted scientific people who forget that science takes for its province only that which is susceptible of clear intellectual comprehension; and that, outside the boundaries of that province, they must be content with imagination, with hope, and with ignorance.
    o Thomas Huxley, The interpreters of Genesis and the interpreters of Nature (1885)

  • Anthropological, biological, and genetic evidence all put the origin of modern humans at between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago, probably in Africa. There is also much data that show an outburst of cultural behavior occurring around 50,000-40,000 years ago in Europe. That’s when archaeologists date the oldest evidence of burial ceremonies, body ornaments, and cave paintings.
    o -William J. Cromie, Facing up to Modern Man; Harvard Gazette

  • Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual. When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled.
    o Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859)

  • If I did not think you a good tempered and truth-loving man I should not tell you that … 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 and grievously mischievous. You have deserted – after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth – the true method of induction …
    o Adam Sedgwick, Letter to Charles Darwin from Adam Sedgwick (his mentor), November 24th, 1859, in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin vol. 7, pg. 396, after reading The Origin of Species.

  • In the American vernacular, ‘theory’ often means “imperfect fact”–part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus the power of the creationist argument: evolution is ‘only a theory and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is worse than a fact, and scientists can’t even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): ‘Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science–that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was.’

    Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don’t go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s in this century, but apples didn’t suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.

    Moreover, ‘fact’ doesn’t mean ‘absolute certainty’; there ain’t no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent.’ I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

    Evolutionists have been very clear about this distinction of fact and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory–natural selection–to explain the mechanism of evolution.
    o Stephen J. Gould, Evolution as Fact and Theory; Discover, May 1981

  • The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
    o Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love (1973)

  • [A] curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it.
    o Jacques Monod (1910-1979) On the Molecular Theory of Evolution (1974) (French Biochemist, Nobel Prize Medicine 1965)

  • Orgel’s Second Rule: Evolution is cleverer than you are.
    o Francis Crick (British molecular biologist, 1916- ) quoted by Daniel C. Dennett in Elbow Room (1984)

  • “Evolution is a tinkerer.
    o Francois Jacob (French biochemist 1920- )”Evolution and Tinkering” (1977). See “w:bricolage”

  • A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.
    o Samuel Butler Life and Habit (1877)

  • [Natural Selection] has not vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to be play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the
  • blind
  • watchmaker.
    o Richard Dawkins (English biologist,1941-) in The Blind Watchmaker (1986)

  • Evolution is a change from an indefinite, incoherent, homogeneity to a definite, coherent, heterogeneity, through continuous differentiations and integrations.
    o Herbert Spencer, First Principles (1862)

  • Evolution is a change from a no-howish untalkaboutable all-alikeness by continous sticktogetheration and somethingelsification.
    o A parody of the above quote, often attributed to William James, 1880 (Lecture Notes 1880-1897), but see [1].

  • Survival of the fittest
    o Herbert Spencer, Principles of Biology 1864

  • Nature, red in tooth and claw
    o Alfred Lord Tennyson, in 56th stanza of poem w:In Memoriam A.H.H. 1849

  • Darwinian man though well behaved, is really but a monkey shaved!
    o Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, w:Princess Ida, 1884.

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  • To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
    o Isaac Asimov

  • When non-biologists talk about biological evolution they often confuse two different aspects of the definition. On the one hand there is the question of whether or not modern organisms have evolved from older ancestral organisms or whether modern species are continuing to change over time. On the other hand there are questions about the mechanism of the observed changes… how did evolution occur? Biologists consider the existence of biological evolution to be a fact. It can be demonstrated today and the historical evidence for its occurrence in the past is overwhelming. However, biologists readily admit that they are less certain of the exact mechanism of evolution; there are several theories of the mechanism of evolution.
    o Laurence Moran

  • The 3 1/2″ floppy drive came first, and then evolution kicked in, thus creating a chicken who laid an egg.
    o Louise Barros

  • Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
    o Francis Bacon

  • Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.
    o Ashley Montagu

  • People are DNA’s way of making more DNA.
    o Edward O. Wilson, 1975

  • Q :Why did the chicken cross the road? Evolutionist: Pure chance. Evolutionist: Only the fittest chickens survive crossing the road. Creationist: God created the chicken on the other side of the road. There is no proof it ever was on this side.
    o Anonymous

  • Q: Why did the dinosaur cross the road? A: Chickens hadn’t evolved yet.
    o Anonymous

  • Some creationists suggest that Noah took not dogs, wolves, and foxes on the ark with him, but only one animal which after the flood generated all the species of canines. This is actually stupider than simply saying “God just did it; don’t ask questions.” It seems to come from a worry that, after all, canines do seem to be genetically related; but then it sweeps away the genetic relationship to felines, primates, birds, chordates, etc.
    o Mark Rosenfelder

  • You are proof evolution goes backwards.
    o Anonymous

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