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The following are unclassified quotes posted by me to creation/evolution discussion groups in July - December 2000. The date format is dd/mm/yy. See copyright conditions at end.
[Index: July, August, September, October, November , December ] [January-June]
July 1/07/2000 "Let us notice what would be involved in the conversion of a land quadruped into, first a seal-like creature and then into a whale. The land animal would, while on land, have to cease using its hind legs for locomotion and to keep than permanently stretched out backwards on either side of the tail and to drag itself about by using its fore-legs. During its excursions in the water, it must have retained the hind legs in their rigid position and swum by moving them and the tail from side to side. As a result of this act of self denial we must assume that the hind legs eventually be came pinned to the tail by the growth of membrane. Thus the hind part of the body would have become likes that of a seal. Having reached this stage, the creature in anticipation of a time when it will give birth to its young under water, gradually develops apparatus by means of which the milk is forced into the mouth of the young one, and, meanwhile a cap has to be formed round the nipple into which the snout of the young one fits tightly, the epiglottis and laryngeal cartilage become prolonged upwards to form a cone-shaped tube, and the soft palate becomes prolonged downwards so as tightly to embrace this tube, in order that the adult will be able to breathe while taking water into the mouth and the young while taking in milk. These changes must be effected completely before the calf can be born under water. Be it noted that there is no stage intermediate between being born and suckled under water and being born and suckled in the air. At the same time various other anatomical changes have to take place, the most important of which is the complete transformation of the tail region. The hind part of the body must have begun to twist on the fore part, and this twisting must nave continued until the sideways movement of the tail developed into an up-and-down movement. While this twisting went on the hind limbs and pelvis must have diminished in size, until the latter ceased to exist as external limbs in all, and completely disappeared in most, whales." (Dewar, D.*, "More Difficulties of the Evolution Theory: and a reply to "Evolution and Its Modern Critics", Thynne & Co: London, 1938, pp.23-24) 2/07/2000 "...'creation,' in the ordinary sense of the word is perfectly conceivable. I find no difficulty in conceiving that, at some former period, this universe was not in existence and that it made its appearance in six days (or instantaneously, if that is preferred), in consequence of the volition of some pre-existing Being. Then, as now, the so-called a priori arguments against Theism, and, given a Deity, against the possibility of creative acts, appeared to me to be devoid of reasonable foundation." (Huxley, T.H., in Huxley L., ed., "Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley," Macmillan: London, Vol. II, 1903, p. 429, in Morris, H.M.*, "The Troubled Waters of Evolution," , Creation-Life Publishers: San Diego CA, Second Edition, 1982, p.105) 3/07/2000 "Thus all Darwin's premises are defective: there is no unlimited population growth in natural populations, no competition between individuals, and no new species producible by selecting for varietal differences. And if Darwin's premises are faulty, then his conclusion does not follow. This, of itself, does not mean that natural selection is false. It simply means that we cannot use Darwin's argument brilliant though it was, to establish natural selection as a means of explaining the origin of species." (Augros, Robert [philosopher] & Stanciu, George [physicist], "The New Biology: Discovering the Wisdom in Nature", New Science Library, Shambhala: Boston, MA, 1987, p.160). 4/07/2000 "Finally, the evolutionary vision is enabling us to discern, however incompletely, the lineaments of the new religion that we can be sure will arise to serve the needs of the coming era. Just as stomachs are bodily organs concerned with digestion, and involving the biochemical activity of special juices, so are religions psychosocial organs concerned with the problems of human destiny, and involving the emotion of sacredness and the sense of right and wrong. Religion of some sort is probably necessary." (Huxley, J.S., "The Humanist Frame," in "Essays of a Humanist," , Penguin Books: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1969, reprint, p.91) 4/07/2000 "The museum [British Museum of Natural History] is the primary source or authority for the general theory of evolution by natural selection, the theory that is taught in schools and universities the world over. Like millions of people in Britain, I have visited the museum many times to stare in wonder at its contents. But I have been unable to see with my own eyes the decisive evidence for the synthetic theory of evolution. I have been able to see many marvels and to study mountains of evidence: the Geological Column that reconstructs the geological and biological history of the Earth; the dinosaur skeletons and myriad other fossils; marvels like the skeleton of Archaeopteryx, seemingly half bird, half reptile; the reconstructed evolution of the horse family. But unlike its counterpart at Teddington [National Physical Laboratory], the museum is unable to exhibit the unchallengeable authority that conclusively demonstrates that evolution by natural selection has taken place and is established as fact. This is very far from saying that scientists have failed to make the case for neo-Darwinist evolution. On the contrary, no rational person can visit the Natural History Museum and not be deeply impressed by the evidence that has been painstakingly assembled. Evidence of historical development over geological time; of similarity of anatomical structure in many different species; of change and adaptation to changing environments. But, frustratingly, even with all this evidence, it is impossible for the genuinely objective person to say, 'Here is the conclusive scientific proof that I have been looking for.'" (Milton, R., "The Facts of Life: Shattering the Myth of Darwinism", Fourth Estate, London, 1992, p.2) 5/07/2000 "It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter." (Haldane, J.B.S., "When I Am Dead," in "Possible Worlds: And Other Essays," , Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209) 6/07/2000 "Synthetically reproduced protolife and artificial evolution in computers have already unearthed a growing body of nontrivial surprises. Yet artificial life suffers from the same malaise that afflicts its cousin, artificial intelligence. No artificial intelligence that I am aware of-be it autonomous robot, learning machine, or massive cognition program-has run more than 24 hours in succession. After a day, artificial intelligence stalls. Likewise, artificial life. Most runs of computational life fizzle out of novelty quickly. While the programs sometimes keep running, churning out minor variation, they ascend to no new levels of complexity or surprise after the first spurt (and that includes Tom Ray's world of Tierra). Perhaps given more time to run, they would. Yet, for whatever reason, computational life based on unadorned natural selection has not seen the miracle of open-ended evolution that its creators, and I, would love to see. As the French evolutionist Pierre Grasse said, "Variation is one thing, evolution quite another; this cannot be emphasized strongly enough... Mutations provide change, but not progress." So while natural selection may be responsible for microchange-a trend in variations-no one can say indisputably that it is responsible for macrochange-the open-ended creation of an unexpected novel form and progress toward increasing complexity." (Kelly, K., "Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines", , Fourth Estate: London, 1995, reprint, p.476) 7/07/2000 "Darwin's contrast of the explanatory powers of his theory with the Creationist, especially in the areas of geographical distribution, morphology embryology, and rudimentary organs, represents, I think, the strongest line of arguments in the Origin. ... Yet even here, where Darwin's arguments are strongest, nagging questions remain. For example, a reader of the Origin might be justified in wondering what Creationist view Darwin is referring to. Perhaps this is a problem more for the present-day reader. Darwin's contemporaries may have known exactly what he meant, though I doubt it. Often the Creationist position seems merely a straw man-set up only to be knocked down. The constraints on space in the Origin, which led Darwin to abandon his original intention of arguing on both sides of the mutability issue, add to this feeling. The result is that the Creationist position is never clearly defined in the Origin." (Gale, B.G., "Evolution Without Evidence: Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species," University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque NM, 1982, p.139) 8/07/2000 "HUMAN EARS are not much to look at. Some seashells, which they vaguely resemble, are more delicately shaped and more appealingly colored. Most animals can swivel their outer ears to locate the source of a sound the few humans who can move their outer ears at all use their skill mainly to amuse children. Yet behind these unprepossessing flaps of skin and cartilage lie structures of such delicacy that they shame the most skillful craftsman, of such reliable automatic operation that they inspire awe in the most ingenious engineer. The outer ear extends only as far as the eardrum, a pressure-sensitive membrane. Beyond this point lies the middle ear, in which three tiny bones transmit and amplify the vibrations of the eardrum. And beyond the middle ear lies the inner ear, filled with liquid and containing the most intricate structures of all: the spiral-shaped cochlea, where sound is converted to nerve impulses, and the semicircular canals, the organs of our sense of balance. Working together the structures of the outer, middle and inner ears perform acts of amazing range and virtuosity. A sound so weak that it causes the eardrum to vibrate less than the diameter of a hydrogen molecule can be heard; a sound 10 million million times stronger will not damage the hearing mechanism." (Stevens, S.S. & Warshofsky, F., "Sound and Hearing," Life Science Library, Time-Life Books: Alexandria VA, Revised Edition, 1980, p.31) 9/07/2000 "Masterpiece of Engineering. Of all the organs of the body, few accomplish as much in so little space as the ear. If an engineer were to duplicate its function, he would have to compress into approximately one cubic inch (16 cm^3) a sound system that included an impedance matcher, a wide-range mechanical analyzer, a mobile relay-and amplification unit, a multichannel transducer to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy, a system to maintain a delicate hydraulic balance and an internal two-way communications system. Even if he could perform this miracle of miniaturization, he probably could not hope to match the ear's performance. It can set itself to hear the low throb of a foghorn at one end of its range and the piercing wail of a jet engine at the other end. It can make the fine distinction between the music played by the violin and the viola sections of a symphony orchestra. It can reject the hubbub of a cocktail party while picking out a single familiar voice. Even during sleep the ear functions with incredible efficiency. Because the brain can interpret and select signals passed to it by the ear, a man can sleep soundly through noisy traffic and the blaring of a neighbor's television setand then awaken promptly at the gentle urging of a chime alarm clock." (Stevens, S.S. & Warshofsky, F., "Sound and Hearing," Life Science Library, Time-Life Books: Alexandria VA, Revised Edition, 1980, p.38) 11/07/2000 "Yet Teggart [Teggart, F.J., "Theory of History," Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1925] once again points out the truly interesting lesson of Darwin's confrontation with the fossil record. Darwin's early scientific experience was primarily as a geologist, and much of what he had to say about the nature of the fossil record (summarized in the passage quoted above) was an accurate and insightful early contribution to our understanding of the vagaries of deposition and the preservation of fossils. But his Chapter 9 (first edition) on the imperfections of the geological record is one long ad hoc, special-pleading argument designed to rationalize, to flat-out explain away, the differences between what he saw as logical predictions derived from his theory and the facts of the fossil record." (Eldredge, N., "Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1985, pp.27-28) 11/07/2000 "Purpose pervades Hoyle's universe. He has long felt that natural selection alone could not account for the appearance and rapid evolution of life on the earth. Some supernatural intelligence must be directing the evolution of life and indeed of the entire cosmos-although to what end Hoyle does not know. The universe is an "obvious fix," he remarks. "There are too many things that look accidental that are not." Sensible scientists will dismiss such talk as preposterous. But every now and then, in their inevitable moments of doubt, they may wonder: Could Sir Fred be right?" (Horgan, J., "The Return Of The Maverick," Scientific American, Vol. 272, No. 324, March 1995, pp.24-25, p.25) 13/07/2000 "The problem of the origin of life is clearly basically equivalent to the problem of the origin of biological information. In accordance with this, the idea of biological information emerges as the fundamental concept in the physicochemical theory of the origin of life." (Kuppers, B-O., "Information and the Origin of Life," , MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1990, p.170. Emphasis in original.) 14/07/2000 "We argue that the basic neo-Darwinian framework-the natural selection of random mutations-is insufficient to account for evolution. The role of natural selection is itself limited: it cannot adequately explain the diversity of populations or of species; nor can it account for the origin of new species or for major evolutionary change. The evidence suggests on the one hand that most genetic changes are irrelevant to evolution; and on the other, that a relative lack of natural selection may be the prerequisite for major evolutionary advance." (Ho, M.W. & Saunders, P.T., "Beyond neo-Darwinism - An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution," Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 78, pp.573-591, 1979, p.573) 16/07/2000 "Evolution by natural selection is, as stressed above, in essence merely a special case of problem solving by trial and error. This implies that every evolutionary route followed during the course of evolution to every adaptive end must have been initially discovered and traced out as the result of a process which is in the end nothing more nor less than a gigantic random search. While it is easy to accept that a random search might hit on mutational routes leading to relatively trivial sorts of adaptive ends, such as the best coloration for a stoat or ptarmigan or the most efficient beak forms for each of the different species of Galapagos finch. But as to whether the same blind undirected search mechanism could have discovered the mutational routes to very complex and ingenious adaptations such as the vertebrate camera eye, the feather, the organ of corti or the mammalian kidney is altogether another question. To common sense it seems incredible to attribute such ends to random search mechanisms, known by experience to be incapable, at least in finite time, of achieving even the simplest of ends." (Denton, M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books: London, 1985, p.61) 16/07/2000 "It was a parable for students of scientific objectivity. Wherever the chart disagreed with his observations he rejected the observation and followed the chart. Because of what his mind thought it knew, it had built up a static filter, an immune system, that was shutting out all information that did not fit. Seeing is not believing. Believing is seeing. If this were just an individual phenomenon it would not be so serious. But it is a huge cultural phenomenon too and it is very serious. We build up whole cultural intellectual patterns based on past 'facts' which are extremely selective. When a new fact comes in that does not fit the pattern we don't throw out the pattern. We throw out the fact. A contradictory fact has to keep hammering and hammering and hammering, sometimes for centuries, before maybe one or two people will see it. And then these one or two have to start hammering on others for a long time before they see it too." (Pirsig, R.M., "Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals," Bantam: London, 1991, pp.343-344. Emphasis in original.) 17/07/2000 "Those who rejected natural selection on religious or philosophical grounds or simply because it seemed too random a process to explain evolution continued for many years to put forward alternative schemes with such names as orthogenesis, nomogenesis, aristogenesis or the "omega principle" of Teilhard de Chardin, each scheme relying on some built-in tendency or drive toward perfection or progress. All these theories were finalistic: they postulated some form of cosmic teleology, of purpose or program. The proponents of teleological theories, for all their efforts, have been unable to find any mechanisms (except supernatural ones) that can account for their postulated finalism." (Mayr, E.W., "Evolution," Scientific American, Vol. 239, No. 3, pp.39-47, September 1978, p.42) 21/07/2000 "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." (Ho, M.W. & Saunders, P.T., "Beyond neo-Darwinism - An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution," Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 78, pp.573-591, 1979, p.589) 21/07/2000 "The second possibility is curiously reminiscent of the special creation theory advocated in the second half of the eighteenth century by William Paley. After emphasizing that plants and animals are remarkably well adapted to the environments in which they live, Paley likened the precision of the living world to a beautifully made watch. He then argued that, just as a watch owes its origin to a watchmaker, the world of Nature must owe its origin to a Creator, God. ... What Darwin ... did ... was to assert that natural selection would indeed get the adaptation there in the first place ... The assertion was without proof, although the scientific world has been persuaded into thinking that exhaustive proofs were given in The Origin of Species (1859)... The key issue, namely that origins from scratch cannot be explained in the same way, is not dealt with at all. The speculations of The Origin of Species turned out to be wrong, as we have seen .... It is ironic that the scientific facts throw Darwin out, but leave William Paley, a figure of fun to the scientific world for more than a century, still in the tournament with a chance of being the ultimate winner." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "The evolutionary record leaks like a sieve," in "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, 1983, reprint, pp.100-102) 24/07/2000 "This last consideration was, and still is, a decisive point with me. When I started in this debate in 1994, I was inclined to the view that evolution might be true and just God's way of creating. But it was the sheer nastiness of the evolution side which convinced me that they knew in their hearts that their position was shaky. I reasoned then, as I do now, that people who know in their hearts that their position is sound have no need to use ridicule and abuse, and would welcome rival theories to compare theirs against, rather than try to prevent them from even being heard." (Stephen E. Jones, Email to Phillip E. Johnson'sdiscussion group, 24 July, 2000) 24/07/2000 "It is important to notice that it was not necessary for a scientist to renounce religion in order to be a member in good standing of the new order. Simple theism, such as Darwin possessed in 1859, interfered little with the practice of science because it had no doctrines that prescribed beliefs about the world. The more complex the theology, the greater was the potential for interference. The problem, then, was not theism, but positive theological content. Scientists who were theists could also be positivists. Those who were orthodox usually became more liberal in their theological views as they drew closer to positive science. The shift from one episteme to another required not the surrender of religion as such, but rather its replacement by positivism as the epistemological standard in science. And this eventually took God out of nature (if not out of reality) as effectively as atheism. That religion could continue under such terms often concealed from participants what had actually occurred. Nor were they the only ones deceived. In the new episteme reality was always an inference. Men would never be able to claim certainty for their beliefs while they continued within its boundaries. Popularizers of the new science who spread a gospel of metaphysical materialism based on science's supposed certain authority appreciated the real significance of what had happened as little as did the theologians who thought successful accommodation of a divinely revealed religion to the new science was a simple matter of shedding a few antiquated superstitions." (Gillespie, N.C., "Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation," University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL., 1979, p.153) 25/07/2000 "In science's pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history's inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike "harder" scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture. The latest deadweight dragging us closer to phrenology is "evolutionary psychology," or the science formerly known as sociobiology, which studies the evolutionary roots of human behavior. There is nothing inherently wrong with this enterprise, and it has proposed some intriguing theories, particularly about the evolution of language. The problem is that evolutionary psychology suffers from the scientific equivalent of megalomania. Most of its adherents are convinced that virtually every human action or feeling, including depression, homosexuality, religion, and consciousness, was put directly into our brains by natural selection. In this view, evolution becomes the key--the only key--that can unlock our humanity." (Coyne, J.A., "The fairy tales of evolutionary psychology." Review of "A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion," by Randy Thornhill & Craig T. Palmer, MIT Press, 2000. The New Republic, March 4, 2000) 27/07/2000 "But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" (Darwin, C.R., Letter to W. Graham, July 3rd, 1881, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. I., 1959, reprint, p.285). 27/07/2000 The Duke of Argyll ('Good Words,' Ap. 1885, p. 244) has recorded a few words on this subject, spoken by my father in the last year of his life. "...in the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own remarkable works on the ' Fertilization of Orchids,' and upon 'The Earthworms,' and various other observations he made of the wonderful contrivances for certain purposes in nature-I said it was impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and the expression of mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He looked at me very hard and said, 'Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,' and he shook his head vaguely, adding, 'it seems to go away.'" (Darwin, C.R., Letter to W. Graham, July 3rd, 1881, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. I., 1959, reprint, p.285) 28/07/2000 "At first sight the biological sector seems full of purpose. Organisms are built as if purposefully designed, and work as if in purposeful pursuit of a conscious aim. But the truth lies in those two words 'as if'. As the genius of Darwin showed, the purpose is only an apparent one." (Huxley, J.S., "Evolution in Action," , Penguin: Harmondsworth, Middlesex UK, 1963, reprint, p.16) 30/07/2000 "Another possible model assumes that a population develops in a relatively isolated part of the available area, undergoes a demographic explosion, and invades the rest of the area, mixing with the local inhabitants or supplanting them. This may have happened repeatedly, at different times and places... People who like to think that man originated at a single place (the garden of Eden") would find their viewpoint expressed by [this] the second model... It seems more plausible to assume, however, that the concentration of finds in East Africa is the result of the area's having conditions favorable to early human life or to preservation of fossil specimens, rather than evidence of the location of Eden. In any case, the statistically very small sample of fossil specimens makes it impossible to choose between these models at the present time." (Cavalli-Sforza, L.L. & Bodmer, W.F., "The Genetics of human Populations," , Dover: Mineola NY, 1999, reprint, p.694-695). 30/07/2000 "Much of the problem is that neoDarwinism 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." (Ho, M.W. & Saunders, P.T., "Beyond neo-Darwinism - An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution," Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 78, pp.573-591, 1979, p.574)[top] August 1/08/2000 "But many biologists, looking at evolution over longer time intervals, have noted that species are rarely modified consistently in one direction long enough for significant evolutionary change to accumulate. Even the Galapagos finches seem to oscillate, not really "going any where" in an evolutionary sense. The reason is that short-term environmental change tends to be cyclical, so natural selection is not likely to keep pushing a species in any one particular direction long enough for new species or major new adaptations to evolve. Furthermore, evecies is broken up into local populations, each of which belongs to a different local ecosystem-making it even less likely that natural selection will modify the entire species in any particular way as time rolls on." (Eldredge, N., "Evolution and Environment: The two faces of biodiversity," Natural History, June 1998, pp.54-55) 2/08/2000 "To the question, "What happens to species when environments change?", the standard post-Darwinian answer became, "They evolve." Species become transformed to meet the new conditions-provided, of course, they are well stocked with the necessary genetic variation on which natural selection may act to effect suitable evolutionary change. Failing that, the fate is extinction. Here we have imagination colliding with common sense- and, worse, with empirical reality. Given the benefit of some 130 years of post-Darwinian scrutiny of the natural world, it has become abundantly clear that by far the most common response of species to environmental change is that they move -they change their locus of existence." (Eldredge, N., "Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate," Phoenix: London, 1996, p.64) 3/08/2000 "That Darwin's question is universal, wherever there is life, is surely undeniable. The feature of living matter that most demands explanation is that it is almost unimaginably complicated in directions that convey a powerful illusion of deliberate design. Darwin's question, or rather the most fundamental and important of Darwin's many questions, is the question of how such complicated "design" could come into being. All living creatures, everywhere in the universe and at any time in history, provoke this question. It is less obvious that Darwin's answer to the riddle-cumulative evolution by nonrandom survival of random hereditary changes-is universal." (Dawkins, R., "Darwin Triumphant: Darwinism as a Universal Truth," in Robinson, M.H. & Tiger, L., eds., "Man & Beast Revisited," Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington DC, 1991, p.24) 4/08/2000 "In the early days of evolutionary paleontology it was assumed that the major gaps would be filled in by further discoveries, and even, falsely, that some discoveries had already filled them. As it became more and more evident that the great gaps remained, despite wonderful progress in finding the members of lesser transitional groups and progressive lines, it was no longer satisfactory to impute this absence of objective data entirely to chance. The failure of paleontology to produce such evidence was so keenly felt that a few disillusioned naturalists even decided that the theory of organic evolution, or of general organic continuity of descent, was wrong, after all." (Simpson, G.G., "Tempo and Mode in Evolution," , Columbia University Press: New York NY, 1949, Third Printing, p.115) 5/08/2000 "Darwin's own bulldog, Huxley, as Eldredge reminds us yet again, warned him against his insistent gradualism, but Darwin had good reason. His theory was largely aimed at replacing creationism as an explanation of how living complexity could arise out of simplicity. Complexity cannot spring up in a single stroke-of chance: that would be like hitting upon the combination number that opens a bank vault. But a whole series of tiny chance steps, if non-randomly selected, can build up almost limitless complexity of adaptation. It is as though the vault's door were to open another chink every time the number on the dials moved a little closer to the winning number. Gradualness is of the essence. In the context of the fight against creationism, gradualism is more or less synonymous with evolution itself. If you throw out gradualness you throw out the very thing that makes evolution more plausible than creation. Creation is a special case of saltation-the saltus is the large jump from nothing to fully formed modern life. When you think of what Darwin was fighting against, is it any wonder that he continually returned to the theme of slow, gradual, step-by-step change?" (Dawkins, R., "What was all the fuss about?" Review of Eldredge, N., "Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria," Simon & Schuster, 1985, Nature, Vol. 316, August 1985, pp.683-684) 6/08/2000 "Today, five of the twenty amino acids common to us all still resist attempts to create them artificially under anything like plausible conditions, and critics have pointed to the 'oxygen-ultraviolet conundrum' that is still not resolved ... It was a Russian biochemist, A. I. Oparin, who in 1936 first suggested how inert chemicals might link together into an organic chain. Although it was impossible to create life from non-life in our present oxygen- heavy environment, he said (oxygen literally eats up any primitive organic chemical such as an amino acid), this might not have been the case in conditions billions of years ago. He suggested that there was a 'reducing' atmosphere - free of oxygen, and consisting of such gases as methane, ammonia, water and hydrogen. All experiments, including Stanley Miller's, have been based on this hypothesis. Without oxygen, there is no ozone canopy to protect Earth from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Nowadays, as established by NASA's early space probes, this canopy blankets us between fifteen and thirty miles above Earth's surface, effectively shielding us from certain death. So with oxygen in the air, the first amino acid would never have got started; without oxygen, it would have been wiped out by cosmic rays. Imaginative and elaborate solutions have been written to this conundrum. Perhaps the amino acid was formed at the edge of a volcano, and then sank into a lake where it dropped the few metres below the surface necessary to protect it from radiation; perhaps the Earth's waters were covered by a layer of tar-like chemicals which stopped ultraviolet light; perhaps the amino acid was protectively dehydrated or 'frozen' in some way on dry rock or clay, waiting for an improvement in the atmosphere. For every suggestion, there is a seemingly insuperable objection: beneath the surface of the water there would not be enough energy to activate further chemical reactions; water in any case inhibits the growth of more complex molecules; unlike conditions in laboratory experiments, the amino acids and their constituents could not be kept pure and isolated. In other words, the theoretical chances of getting through even this first and relatively easy stage in the evolution of life are forbidding." (Hitching, F., "The Neck of the Giraffe: Or Where Darwin Went Wrong," Pan: London, 1982, pp.63-65) 6/08/2000 "They survived by swiftness and cunning. And then, only a moment ago, some small arboreal animals scampered down from the trees. They became upright and taught themselves the use of tools, domesticated other animals, plants and fire, and devised language. The ash of stellar alchemy was now emerging into consciousness. At an ever-accelerating pace, it in vented writing, cities, art and science, and sent spaceships to the planets and the stars. These are some of the things that hydrogen atoms do, given fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution. It has the sound of epic myth, and rightly. But it is simply a description of cosmic evolution as revealed by the science of our time. We are difficult to come by and a danger to ourselves. But any account of cosmic evolution makes it clear that all the creatures of our Earth, the latest manufactures of the galactic hydrogen industry, are beings to be cherished." (Sagan, C.E., "Cosmos," , Macdonald: London, 1981, reprint, pp.337-339) 6/08/2000 "In suggesting an explanation for adaptation, the theory of natural selection provides at most a partial explanation for evolution. It is not enough to say that those traits which are favourable will be selected. We have also to explain how they arise, that is, to account for the set of alternatives from which the selection is made. Otherwise we have, in Samuel Butler's (1911) words, 'an Origin of the Species with the "Origin" cut out'." (Saunders, P.T., "Development and Evolution," in Ho, M-W. & Saunders, P.T., eds., "Beyond Neo-Darwinism: An Introduction to the New Evolutionary Paradigm," Academic Press: London, 1984, p.243) 7/08/2000 "Molecular biology has been built upon the assumptions of physics, chemistry and the other so-called 'hard' sciences: laws of great generality and perfect stability do exist in nature; living things are governed by these laws. Yet the study of natural selection stands outside this framework, even though many students of the process begin as scientists and use the tools of various scientific disciplines. Students of natural selection can have no hope and no wish for eternal laws. Physicists can predict the next solar eclipse, but no one can predict the next species. Trained as scientists but thinking like historians, students of natural selection are pleased to accept the contingent aspects of current and past life, the certainty that we will not come this way again." (Pollack, Robert [professor of biological sciences, Columbia University, New York], "Genes and history," New Scientist, Vol 127, 8 September 1990, pp.44-45, p.44) 8/08/2000 "MODERN CRITICS have often asked themselves how it is that a hypothesis like Darwin's, based on such weak foundations, could all at once win over to its side the greater part of contemporary scientific opinion. If the defenders of the theory refer with this end in view to its intrinsic value, it may be answered that the theory has long ago been rejected in its most vital points by subsequent research." (Nordenskiold, E., "The History of Biology: A Survey," [1920-24], transl. Eyre L.B., Tudor Publishing Co: New York NY, 1928, p.477) 13/08/2000 The failure of neo-Darwinian theory is therefore one of misplaced emphasis. Evolution is seen to take place by the natural selection of random genetic mutations; inherent in this assumption is that the phenotypic variations corresponding to the genetic variations are equally random. On account of this, one has no recourse but to assign to natural selection the "creative" role in evolution." (Ho, M.W. & Saunders, P.T., "Beyond neo-Darwinism - An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution," Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 78, pp.573-591, 1979, p.589) 13/08/2000 "The drawback for scientists is that nature's shrewd economy conceals enormous complexity. Researchers are finding evidence that the Hox genes and the non-Hox homeobox genes are not independent agents but members of vast genetic networks that connect hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other genes. Change one component, and myriad others will change as well--and not necessarily for the better. Thus dreams of tinkering with nature's toolbox to bring to life what scientists call a "hopeful monster"-such as a fish with feet--are likely to remain elusive." (Nash, J.M., "Where Do Toes Come From?," Time, Vol. 146, No. 5, July 31, 1995) 13/08/2000 "The known fossil record is not, and never has been, in accord with gradualism. What is remarkable is that, through a variety of historical circumstances, even the history of opposition has been obscured. Few modern paleontologists seem to have recognized that in the past century, as the biological historian William Coleman has recently written, `The majority of paleontologists felt their evidence simply contradicted Darwin's stress on minute, slow, and cumulative changes leading to species transformation.' [Coleman, W., "Biology in the Nineteenth Century: Problems of Form, Function, and Transformation," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1977, p.80]" (Stanley, Steven M. [Professor of Paleobiology, The Johns Hopkins University, USA], "The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species," Basic Books: New York NY, 1981, p.71) 14/08/2000 "The firm step toward explaining the appearance of living things had been taken. The elementary organic constituents required for the construction of the big molecules, from which life subsequently developed, may be formed spontaneously and easily. It seemed that once the first steps had been taken, the others would have followed easily. Research scientists threw themselves unhesitatingly into the frenetic race to be the first to synthesize living matter in the laboratory; but so far no one has succeeded. There are, in fact, many thresholds to be crossed. Life is based upon two mutually interactive systems, one of which makes provision for growth and the other for reproduction. The systems are also interdependent, and neither may exist without the other. Which was formed first? The answer that they were formed simultaneously is too simple to be acceptable. The problem of how the first living organism was formed has still to be solved." (Minelli, G., "The Evolution of Life: The History of Life on Earth," , Facts on File: New York NY, 1986, p.5) 16/08/2000 "The changes within a population have been termed microevolution, and they can indeed be accepted as a consequence of shifting gene frequencies. Changes above the species level-involving the origin of new species and the establishment of higher taxonomic patterns- are known as macroevolution. The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear, No." (Lewin, R., "Evolutionary-Theory Under Fire: An historic conference in Chicago challenges the four-decade long dominance of the Modern Synthesis," Science, Vol. 210, pp.883-887, 21 November 1980, p.883). 18/08/2000 "In fact, the belief in Natural Selection must at present be grounded entirely on general considerations. (1) On its being a vera causa, from the struggle for existence; and the certain geological fact that species do somehow change. (2) From the analogy of change under domestication by man's selection. (3) And chiefly from this view connecting under an intelligible point of view a host of facts. When we descend to details, we can prove that no one species has changed [i.e. we cannot prove that a single species has changed]; nor can we prove that the supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory. Nor can we explain why some species have changed and others have not." (Darwin, C.R., Letter to G. Bentham, May 22 1863, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, p.210. Parentheses in original). 20/08/2000 "SEEKING a case of extreme competition between individual plants, I thought I had found it in the desert. When, on rare occasions, a heavy rain awakens the seeds which have been lying dormant in the desert sands during the dry years, a thousand or more seedlings may sprout on every square foot of this usually barren soil. They may be so dense that the seedling leaves cover the surface with a carpet of green. Everything I had ever read about evolution prepared me to find at such a time a jockeying for supremacy a struggle for space and an ultimate victory of a few plants which managed to outgrow the others. And what actually happened? All these seedlings grew. They grew slowly, to be sure, but more than half of them got far enough in that arid habitat to form a few leaves, at least one flower and ultimately a few seeds. It was not a case of a few outgrowing the others and monopolizing the light, moisture and nutrients-they grew up evenly, equally sharing available space. It was clear that if a seed of a desert annual plant once manages to germinate, it has a better than even chance to grow up into a mature plant and to fulfil its function or mission of producing at least one but usually more seeds. There is no violent struggle between plants, no warlike mutual killing, but a harmonious development on a share-and- share-alike basis. The co-operative principle is stronger than the competitive one: the controlling factor in the desert's carpet of flowers is the germination of the seed, and it is differential germination which regulates the plant population in the world. In other words, not war, but birth control is nature's answer." (Went, F.W., "The Plants", , Time/Life Books: Netherlands, 1965, reprint, p.168) 20/08/2000 "When evolution is said to be a fact, not a theory, what is actually meant? That now-living things have descended from ancestors, with modification, over time? Or that the modifications came by chance, not by design? Or, in addition, that all living things ultimately had the same ancestor? Or, still further, that the "first living thing" had as its ancestor a nonliving thing? Context indicates that when evolution is asserted to be a fact, not a theory, the view actually being pushed includes that of common origin, ultimate inorganic ancestry, and modification through nonpurposive mechanisms: a set of beliefs that goes far beyond the mountain of fact that is actually there, which consists largely of fossils that demonstrate some sort of relationship and some sort of change over time." (Bauer, H.H., "Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method," , University of Illinois Press: Urbana and Chicago IL., 1994, p.65. Emphasis Bauer's) 21/08/2000 "It seems as though simple chemical reactions among the compounds that scientists envisage were available on the early Earth were sufficient to drive the process that led inexorably to life. ... There is, however, one problem with this assumption: scientists still have no firm idea of what the mechanics of this kind of 'prebiotic' chemistry were or how the whole ascent to life actually happened. Recently, new experimental methods have shed some light on the possible processes, but have also served to add to the general uncertainty." (Evans, J., "It's alive - isn't it?," Chemistry in Britain, Vol. 36, No. 5, May 2000, pp.44-47, p.44) 22/08/2000 "This generalized proposition-that processes of chance and natural law led to living organisms emerging on Earth from the relatively simple organic molecules in 'primordial soups'-is valid only if there is a finite probability of the correct assembly of molecules occurring within the time-scale envisaged. Here there is another great problem. In the above example for a relatively small protein of 100 amino acids, selection of this correct sequence had to be made by chance from 10^130 alternative choices. The operation of pure chance would mean that within a maximum of about 500 million years (or somewhat less), the organic molecules in the 'primordial soup' might have to undergo 10^130 trial assemblies to hit on the correct sequence. The probability of such a chance occurrence leading to the formation of one of the smallest protein molecules is unimaginably small. Within the boundary conditions of time and space which we are considering, it is effectively zero." (Brooks, J., "Origins of Life," Lion: Tring, Hertfordshire UK, 1985, pp.84-85) 23/08/2000 "It is still to be demonstrated how these essential molecules, such as haemoglobin, chlorophyll and other proteins and nucleic acids were formed. But even if we were to allow a primeval soup to have existed for the full history of the Earth (4,000-4,500 million years), complex proteins and nucleic-acid molecules could never have been produced by random, chance interactions. However, here are you and I on Earth today. And the evidence of the fossil record shows that some sequence of events of almost zero probability did take place over 3,500 million years ago. Before the event, the chances that it would occur were exceedingly small. What is more, from out understanding of the possible processes leading to the origin of life and the critical part played by living organisms in the development processes, the transition from non-living to living matter probably occurred only once and could have occurred only once. The origin of life was an almost utterly improbable event with almost impossible odds against a chance happening But life did originate. So was it by chance? Or was it by design and control?" (Brooks, J., "Origins of Life," Lion: Tring, Hertfordshire UK, 1985, p.87) 25/08/2000 "Where is the Evidence for Chemical Evolution? The Chemical Evolution Theory requires that an oxygen-free atmosphere existed for a considerable period of time on the early Earth. Geological evidence from the early PreCambrian, however, suggests that such primitive and secondary atmospheres did not exist for any appreciable length of time. Supporting evidence for this comes from studies of the ultraviolet photolysis of methane to give polymeric materials. These studies suggest that under primitive-Earth conditions the temperature around the Earth might have been so high that methane would have disappeared. It would have broken down into high- molecular-mass carbon polymer-deposited on the Earth's surface, and hydrogen-escaping instantaneously into space. So an oxygen- free atmosphere on primitive Earth, if it existed, would probably have broken down in too short a time for a living system or chemicals of life to have formed in it." (Brooks, J., "Origins of Life," Lion: Tring, Hertfordshire UK, 1985, pp.117-118) 25/08/2000 "And then what of the 'primitive soup' required for Chemical Evolution? If such an environment ever existed on Planet Earth for any appreciable time, it would require relatively large quantities of nitrogen-containing organic compounds (amino-acids, nucleic acid bases and so on). It is likely that such nitrogen-rich soups would have given significant quantities of 'nitrogenous cokes', trapped in various PreCambrian sediments. (The formation of such 'cokes' is the normal result obtained by heating organic matter rich in nitrogenous substances.) No such nitrogen-rich materials have yet been found in early Pre-Cambrian rocks on this planet. In fact the opposite seems to be true: the nitrogen content of early PreCambrian organic matter is relatively low (less than 0.15%). From this we can be reasonably certain that: there never was any substantial amount of 'primitive soup' on Earth when ancient PreCambrian sediments were formed; if such a 'soup' ever existed it was only for a brief period of time. Subtract from the basic concept of the Chemical Evolution Theory the ideas of substantial amounts of 'primitive soup' and a long period of time, and there is very little left." (Brooks, J., "Origins of Life," Lion: Tring, Hertfordshire UK, 1985, p.118) 26/08/2000 "Hoyle considers the carbon-oxygen synthesis coincidence so remarkable that it seems like a `put-up job'. Regarding the delicate positioning of the nuclear resonances, he comments: 'If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just about where these levels are actually found to be .... A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature'." (Hoyle, F., 'The Universe: Some Past and Present Reflections," University of Cardiff, 1982, p16, in Davies, P.C.W., "The Accidental Universe," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1983, reprint, p.118) 26/08/2000 "It is thus hardly surprising that the vast majority of biologists have accepted it [the theory of natural selection] as the theory of evolution. Yet there have always been those who are dissatisfied with the theory. The issue is not whether natural selection does occur; the question is whether the basic framework of neo-Darwinism- the natural selection of random mutations-is sufficient to account for most, if not all evolutionary change; for such is the claim of the modern "synthetic" theory.." (Ho, M.W. & Saunders, P.T., "Beyond neo-Darwinism - An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution," Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 78, pp.573-591, 1979, p.574. Emphasis in original) 27/08/2000 "It is hard to resist the impression of something - some influence capable of transcending spacetime and the confinements of relativistic causality - possessing an overview of the entire cosmos at the instant of its creation, and manipulating all the causally disconnected parts to go bang with almost exactly the same vigour at the same time, and yet not so exactly Coordinated as to preclude the small scale, slight irregularities that eventually formed the galaxies, and us." (Davies, P.C.W., "The Accidental Universe," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1983, reprint, p.95) 29/08/2000 "But in our own culture, where many people officially have no religion at all, and those who have can chop and change, new faiths have much more scope and can become more distinctive. They are hungrily seized on by people whose lives lack meaning. When this happens, there arise at once, unofficially and spontaneously, many elements which we think of as characteristically religious. We begin, for instance, to find priesthoods, prophecies devotion, bigotry, exaltation, heresy-hunting and sectarianism, ritual sacrifice, fanaticism, notions of sin, absolution and salvation, and the confident promise of a heaven in the future. ...Marxism and evolutionism, the two great secular faiths of our day, display all these religious-looking features. They have also, like the great religions and unlike more casual local faiths, large-scale, ambitious systems of thought, designed to articulate, defend and justify heir ideas - in short, ideologies." (Midgley, M., "Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears," , Methuen: London, 1986, reprint, p.15) 31/08/2000 "Here, then, is Darwin's dangerous idea: the algorithmic level is the level that best accounts for the speed of the antelope, the wing of the eagle, the shape of the orchid, the diversity of species, and all the other occasions for wonder in the world of nature. It is hard to believe that something as mindless and mechanical as an algorithm could produce such wonderful things. No matter how impressive the products of an algorithm, the underlying process always consists of nothing but a set of individually mindless steps succeeding each other without the help of any intelligent supervision; they are "automatic" by definition: the workings of an automaton. They feed on each other, or on blind chance-coin-flips, if you like-and on nothing else. ... Can it really be the outcome of nothing but a cascade of algorithmic processes feeding on chance? And if so, who designed that cascade? Nobody. It is itself the product of a blind, algorithmic process. As Darwin himself put it, in a letter to the geologist Charles Lyell shortly after publication of Origin, "I would give absolutely nothing for the theory of Natural Selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent...if I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish..." (F. Darwin 1911, vol. 2, pp. 6-7) According to Darwin, then, evolution is an algorithmic process." (Dennett, D.C., "Darwin 's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and The Meanings of Life," , Penguin: London, 1996, reprint, pp.59-60. Emphasis Dennett's)[top] September 1/09/2000 "In point of fact, the number of modifications in reptilian structure which the birds have managed to effect in order to adapt themselves for flight is so large as to constitute a real problem and deserves our further attention. To begin with, many modifications serve to reduce its weight. The bones are hollow, the skull very thin. It has abandoned the heavy tooth-studded jaw for the light but rigid beak. The body is condensed into a compact shape, the reptilian tail being abandoned, as also the reptilian snout. The centre of gravity has been lowered by placing the chief muscles beneath the main structure. Where organs are paired, like the kidney, and the ovary, one has been sacrificed. the pelvis has been strengthened to absorb (allow me the teleology) the shock of landing. The legs and feet have been reduced to minimum the muscles operating them have vanished to be replaced by muscles within the body. The brain has been modified: a larger cerebellum to handle problems of balance and co-ordination, a larger visual cortex now that vision has become more important than smell. Less obvious but even more remarkable is the change in bodily metabolism. To produce the energy for flight the bird must consume a lot of fuel and maintain a high temperature. Not only do birds eat a lot, as anyone who grows fruit or has seen the bullfinches systematically remove every bud from a treasured shrub knows, but they have a crop in which they can store reserve fuel. So that it can handle more blood, the partitions in the heart have been completed. The lungs too have not only been enlarged but are supplemented by air-spaces within the body. In land creatures like ourselves, much of the air in the lungs remains static; we exchange only a very small proportion of it in a normal breath. The bird, by passing the inspired air right through the lung into the air-sacs, contrives to exchange the lot with each breath. This system also serves to dissipate the heat generated by the muscles during flight. It strains the imagination to visualise so many beautifully apt changes occurring by chance, even when one considers that 150 million years elapsed between the emergence of life from the sea and the appearance of the first birds. For my part I can imagine that each change might have occurred by chance during that time, what I find hard to swallow is the accumulation of different changes integrated into a single functional pattern." (Taylor, G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery", Abacus: London, 1983, pp.70-71) 2/09/2000 "CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN stands among the giants of Western thought because he convinced a majority of his peers that all of life shares a single, if complex, history. He taught us that we can understand life's history in purely naturalistic terms, without recourse to the supernatural or divine." (Eldredge, N., "Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1985, p.13) 3/09/2000 "If the creationists want to impress the Darwinian establishment, it will be no use prating on about what the fossils say. No good Darwinian's belief in evolution stands on the fossil evidence for gradual evolution, so nor will his belief fall by it." (Ridley, Mark, "Who doubts evolution?" New Scientist, Vol. 90, 25 June 1981, pp.830-832, p.832) 4/09/2000 "Gradualists and saltationists alike are completely incapable of giving a convincing explanation of the quasi- simultaneous emergence of a number of biological systems that distinguish human beings from the higher primates: bipedalism, with the concomitant modification of the pelvis, and, without a doubt, the cerebellum, a much more dexterous hand, with fingerprints conferring an especially fine tactile sense; the modifications of the pharynx which permits phonation; the modification of the central nervous system, notably at the level of the temporal lobes, permitting the specific recognition of speech. From the point of view of embryogenesis, these anatomical systems are completely different from one another. Each modification constitutes a gift, a bequest from a primate family to its descendants. It is astonishing that these gifts should have developed simultaneously. Some biologists speak of a predisposition of the genome. Can anyone actually recover the predisposition, supposing that it actually existed? Was it present in the first of the fish? The reality is that we are confronted with total conceptual bankruptcy." (Schutzenberger, M-P., in "The Miracles of Darwinism: Interview with Marcel-Paul Schutzenberger," Origins & Design, Vol. 17, No. 2, Spring 1996, pp.10-15) 4/09/2000 "Finally, there is the question of natural selection. In one sense, the influence of the theory of natural selection on sociology was enormous. It created for a while, in fact, a branch of sociology. It seems now to be felt that the influence on sociology of the doctrine of 'survival of the fittest' was theoretically speaking, unfortunate, chiefly because it seemed to offer an explanatory short cut, and encouraged social theorists to aspire to be Darwin's when probably they should have been trying to be Linnaeuses or Cuviers. As Professor MacRae points out, in sociology the principle explains too much. Any state of affairs known to exist or to have existed can be explained by the operation of natural selection. Like Hegel's dialectic and Dr Chasuble's sermon on The Meaning of Manna in the Wilderness, it can be made to suit any situation. However, 'Social Darwinism ' was only a subspecies of the intellectual movement we are considering. Neither Maine, nor Tylor, nor McLennan made much use of the theory of natural selection and Spencer used it only as a garnish for a theory he had already developed." (Burrow, J.W., "Evolution and Society: A Study in Victorian Social Theory," , Cambridge University Press: London, 1968, reprint, p.115) 8/09/2000 "Mivart gathered, and illustrated `with admirable art and force' (Darwin's words), all objections to the theory of natural selection-`a formidable array' (Darwin's words again). Yet one particular theme, urged with special attention by Mivart, stood out as the centerpiece of his criticism. This argument continues to rank as the primary stumbling block among thoughtful and friendly scrutinizers of Darwinism today. No other criticism seems so troubling, so obviously and evidently `right' (against a Darwinian claim that seems intuitively paradoxical and improbable). Mivart awarded this argument a separate chapter in his book right after the introduction. He also gave it a name, remembered ever since. He called his objection `The Incompetency of Natural Selection to Account for the Incipient Stages of Useful Structures.' If this phrase sounds like a mouthful, consider the easy translation: We can readily understand how complex and fully developed structures work and how their maintenance and preservation may rely upon natural selection-a wing, an eye, the resemblance of a bittern to a branch or of an insect to a stick or dead leaf. But how do you get from nothing to such an elaborate something if evolution must proceed through a long sequence of intermediate stages, each favored by natural selection? You can't fly with 2 percent of a wing or gain much protection from an iota's similarity with a potentially concealing piece of vegetation. How, in other words, can natural selection explain the incipient stages of structures that can only be used in much more elaborated form?" (Gould, S.J., "Not Necessarily a Wing," in "Bully for Brontosaurus: Further Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, 1992, pp.140-141) 9/09/2000 "I, for one, in spite of all the benefits drawn from genetics and the mathematical theory of selection, am still at a loss to understand why it is of selective advantage for the eels of Comacchio to travel perilously to the Sargasso sea, or why Ascaris has to migrate all around the host's body instead of comfortably settling in the intestine where it belongs; or what was the survival value of a multiple stomach for a cow when a horse, also vegetarian and of comparable size, does very well with a simple stomach; or why certain insects had to develop those admirable mimicries and protective colorations when the common cabbage butterfly is far more abundant with its conspicuous white wings. One cannot reject these and innumerable similar questions as incompetent; if the selectionist explanation works well in some cases, a selectionist explanation cannot be refused in others." (von Bertalanffy, L., "Chance or Law," in Koestler, A. & Smythies J.R., ed., "Beyond Reductionism: New Perspectives in the Life Sciences," , Hutchinson: London, 1972, reprint, p.65) 11/09/2000 "A matter of unfinished business for biologists is the identification of evolution's smoking gun. As long as there have been theories of evolution (and certainly before Darwin), critics have complained that "the hypothesis remains destitute of satisfactory evidence" (Rev. William Paley 1802; quoted in Thomson 1997). ... Perhaps the most obvious challenge is to demonstrate evolution empirically. There are, arguably, some 2 to 10 million species on earth. The fossil record shows that most species survive somewhere between 3 and 5 million years. In that case, we ought to be seeing small but significant numbers of originations and extinctions every decade. .... The problem of the smoking gun of causality applied severely to Charles Darwin as he articulated his theory of evolution by natural selection. He had identified a powerful mechanism of change in living systems. He had summarized incontrovertible evidence that evolution had taken place in the fundamental sense of change in life over time (species, genera, whole phyla). He had demonstrated the equally fundamental weakness of "multiple creations" as a cause of the different faunas and floras existing in similar climatic regimes (Europe versus North America, for example). His problem was the demonstration of a direct and causal linkage between the evidence of change and the postulated mechanism." (Thomson, K.S., "Natural Selection and Evolution's Smoking Gun", American Scientist, Vol. 85, No. 6, November-December 1997, p.516) 14/09/2000 "Perhaps we should not be surprised that vertebrate paleontologists did not support the prevailing view of slow, progressive evolution but tended to elaborate theories involving saltation, orthogenesis, or other vitalistic hypotheses. Most of the evidence provided by the fossil record does not support a strictly gradualistic interpretation, as pointed out by Eldredge and Gould (1972), Gould and Eldredge (1977), Gould (1985), and Stanley (1979, 1982)." (Carroll, R.L., "Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution," W.H. Freeman & Co: New York NY, 1988, p.4. Emphasis in original) 14/09/2000 "His inability to read a book by an author he disagreed with, insulating him from new and possibly disturbing influences, and the subjection of all his major works after Social Statics to a single grand design meant that, whatever inconsistencies there may be, Spencer's intellectual career followed a singularity rigid and predictable course. The ideas which had influenced him as a young man remained the major influence in his life, because he admitted no others. Having found a set of ideas congenial to him, and organized them in such a way as to make them universally applicable, he could not make any significant shift of his intellectual ground without shattering his life's work. As Beatrice Webb put it, having invented a universal system, he was compelled to spend the rest of his life practising casuistry." (Burrow, J.W., "Evolution and Society: A Study in Victorian Social Theory," , Cambridge University Press: London, 1968, reprint, p.180) 14/09/2000 "A peculiarity of Darwinism, both in biology and in other fields, is that it explains too much. It is very hard to imagine a condition of things which could not be explained in terms of natural selection. If the state of various elements at a given moment is such and such then these elements have displayed their survival value under the existing circumstances, and that is that. Natural selection explains why things are as they are: It does not enable us, in general, to say how they will change and vary. It is in a sense rather a historical than a predictive principle and, as is well known, it is rather a necessary than a sufficient principle for modern biology. In consequence its results when applied to social affairs were often rather odd." (MacRae, D.G., "Darwinism and the Social Sciences," in Barnett, S.A., ed., "A Century of Darwin," , Mercury Books: London, 1962, reprint, p.304) 15/09/2000 "`It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present. But if (and oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. present, that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.' [Darwin, C.R., Letter to J.D. Hooker, 1 February, 1871, in Darwin, F., ed., `The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,' (1898), Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II, Reprinted, 1959, pp.202-203]. This quote is often reproduced in texts and articles on the origin of life. Many workers would prefer to replace the word `protein' with `nucleic acid,' as we have seen. Otherwise, it is remarkably current today, which is a tribute either to his foresight or to our lack of progress." (Shapiro, R., "Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit: New York NY, 1986, p.185) 16/09/2000 "Paley was not only right in asserting the existence of an analogy between life and machines, but was also remarkably prophetic in guessing that the technological ingenuity realized in living systems is vastly in excess of anything yet accomplished by man. ... The almost irresistible force of the analogy has completely undermined the complacent assumption, prevalent in biological circles over most of the past century, that the design hypothesis can be excluded on the grounds that the notion is fundamentally a metaphysical a priori concept and therefore scientifically unsound. On the contrary, the inference to design is a purely a posteriori induction based on a ruthlessly consistent application of the logic of analogy. The conclusion may have religious implications, but it does not depend on religious presuppositions." (Denton, M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books: London, 1985, p.341) 18/09/2000 "Here, I assume without proof that natural selection was the key evolutionary mechanism and that, consequently, the organic world is to be understood as highly adapted." (Ruse, M.E., "Homosexuality: A Philosophical Inquiry," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1988, p.131) 18/09/2000 "Putting the matter bluntly, those of our possible ancestors who had the sorts of features that have been passed down to us-bipedalism, large brains, manual dexterity, sociality, and so forth-tended to survive and reproduce. And those of our possible ancestors who did not have these sorts of features did not." (Ruse, M.E., "Homosexuality: A Philosophical Inquiry," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1988, p.131) 18/09/2000 "New concepts and information from molecular, developmental biology, systematics, geology and the fossil record of all groups of organisms, need to be integrated into an expanded evolutionary synthesis. These fields of study show that large-scale evolutionary phenomena cannot be understood solely on the basis of extrapolation from processes observed at the level of modern populations and species. Patterns and rates of evolution are much more varied than had been conceived by Darwin or the evolutionary synthesis, and physical factors of the earth's history have had a significant, but extremely varied, impact on the evolution of life." (Carroll, R.L., "Towards a new evolutionary synthesis," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 2000, Vol. 15, pp.27-32, p.27) 18/09/2000 "The most obvious contrasts between the darwinian view of the patterns and the rates of evolution, and the evidence that has since been documented by the fossil record, are illustrated in Fig. 1. Darwin used the only illustration in the first edition of The Origin of Species to explain his hypothesis that the patterns of evolution over hundreds of millions of generations were the same as those at the level of populations and species. In fact, they are clearly distinct in all taxonomic groups. Evolution at the level of populations and species might, in some cases, appear as nearly continuous change accompanied by divergence to occupy much of the available morphospace. However, this is certainly not true for long-term, large-scale evolution, such as that of the metazoan phyla, which include most of the taxa that formed the basis for the evolutionary synthesis. The most striking features of large-scale evolution are the extremely rapid divergence of lineages near the time of their origin, followed by long periods in which basic body plans and ways of life are retained. What is missing are the many intermediate forms hypothesized by Darwin, and the continual divergence of major lineages into the morphospace between distinct adaptive types." (Carroll, R.L., "Towards a new evolutionary synthesis," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 2000, Vol. 15, pp.27-32) 19/09/2000 "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" (1985:785), 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..." (Mayr, E.W., "One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought," Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1991, p.99) 21/09/2000 "The truth of the matter is that unless a person is still an adherent of creationism and believes in the literal truth of every word in the Bible, every modern thinker-any modern person who has a worldview-is in the last analysis a Darwinian. The rejection of special creation, the inclusion of man into the realm of the living world (the elimination of the special position of man versus the animals), and various other beliefs of every enlightened modern person are ultimately all based on the consequences of the theories contained in the Origin of Species." (Mayr, E.W., "One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought," Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1991, p.104) 21/09/2000 "Darwin's theory of evolution was based on the primarily uniformitarian concept that the processes of genetic variation and natural selection, studied in modern populations, are sufficient to explain the large-scale patterns of diversification that have occurred throughout the billions of years of life on earth. .... Large-scale phenomena continue to be treated in a primarily historical manner, with little consideration for the forces that are responsible for the origin and long-term perpetuation of basic body plans, major changes in structures and ways of life, or the influence of abiological factors on critical events in the history of life. The focus of these textbooks, and the majority of papers published in the journal Evolution, on modern species belies the great advances in other areas of science that contribute to the understanding of large-scale, long-term evolutionary phenomena." (Carroll, R.L., "Towards a new evolutionary synthesis," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 2000, Vol. 15, pp.27-32) 21/09/2000 "Research in many disciplines over the past 40 years has demonstrated that the patterns, processes and forces of evolution are far more diverse than hypothesized by Darwin and the framers of the evolutionary synthesis: ... Increasing knowledge of the fossil record and the capacity for accurate geological dating demonstrate that large- scale patterns and rates of evolution are not comparable with those hypothesized by Darwin on the basis of extrapolation from modern populations and species." (Carroll, R.L., "Towards a new evolutionary synthesis," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 2000, Vol. 15, pp.27-32) 23/09/2000 "The most obvious contrasts between the darwinian view of the patterns and the rates of evolution, and the evidence that has since been documented by the fossil record.... Darwin used the only illustration in the first edition of The Origin of Species to explain his hypothesis that the patterns of evolution over hundreds of millions of generations were the same as those at the level of populations and species. In fact, they are clearly distinct in all taxonomic groups. Evolution at the level of populations and species might, in some cases, appear as nearly continuous change accompanied by divergence to occupy much of the available morphospace. However, this is certainly not true for long-term, largescale evolution, such as that of the metazoan phyla, which include most of the taxa that formed the basis for the evolutionary synthesis. The most striking features of large-scale evolution are the extremely rapid divergence of lineages near the time of their origin, followed by long periods in which basic body plans and ways of life are retained. What is missing are the many intermediate forms hypothesized by Darwin, and the continual divergence of major lineages into the morphospace between distinct adaptive types." (Carroll, R.L., "Towards a new evolutionary synthesis," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 2000, Vol. 15, pp.27-32) 25/09/2000 "The hazards of preservation and subsequent exposure impose another bias-against groups of animals that were rare or geographically restricted. This bias is particularly unfortunate, since most major evolutionary changes probably occurred in small, isolated populations that were subject to stringent selection pressure (Dobzhansky et al., 1977; Mayr, 1963; Simpson, 1953). Where information regarding transitional forms is most eagerly sought, it is least likely to be available. We have no intermediate fossils between rhipidistian fish and early amphibians or between primitive insectivores and bats; only a single species, Archaeopteryx lithographica represents the transition between dinosaurs and birds. (Carroll, R.L., "Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution," W.H. Freeman & Co: New York NY, 1988, p.4) 25/09/2000 "Few contemporary paleontologists would deny that natural selection controls the direction of evolution, but many would seek additional factors to account for the rapid evolution that characterizes the early diversification and radiation of groups and the early stages in the elaboration of major new structures. The great longevity of many groups and the minor evolutionary changes they exhibited pose another problem." (Carroll, R.L., "Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution," W.H. Freeman & Co: New York NY, 1988, pp.4-5) 26/09/2000 "Spencer's belief in the universality of natural causation was, together with his laissez-faire political creed, the bedrock of his thinking. It was this belief, more than anything else, that led him to reject Christianity, long before the great conflict of the eighteen-sixties Moreover, it was his belief in natural causation that led him to embrace the theory of evolution, not vice versa. `The doctrine of the universality of natural causation, has for its inevitable corollary the doctrine that the universe and all things in it have reached their present forms through successive stages physically necessitated.' [Spencer, H., "Autobiography," Williams & Norgate, London, 1904, Vol. II, p.6.]" (Burrow, J.W., "Evolution and Society: A Study in Victorian Social Theory," , Cambridge University Press: London, 1968, reprint, pp.205-206) 26/09/2000 "His faith was so strong that it did not wait on scientific proof. Spencer became an ardent evolutionist at a time when a cautious scientist would have been justified at least in suspending judgement. ... for him the belief in natural causation was primary, the theory of evolution derivative." (Burrow, J.W., "Evolution and Society: A Study in Victorian Social Theory," , Cambridge University Press: London, 1968, reprint, p.205) 26/09/2000 "The reader may well ask whether, irrespective of the eventual fate of Darwin's predictions, his teachings have had any direct effect on the later development of classificatory practice. The answer appears to be, very little before the end of the nineteenth century, a certain amount in the earlier part of the present century (at least as far as species are concerned), but very little again today. ... Curiously enough, one section of the contents of a recent volume is likely to preserve a recognizable similarity to the corresponding parts of a century ago- the purely systematic papers. ... the systematists, alone among mid-Victorian zoologists, would probably find the works of their present-day successors intelligible. The context suggests that Darwin expected the revolution to show itself particularly in systematics, whereas it is precisely this field which has not undergone any drastic change in the last century. ... In a sense it could be said that the revolution in systematics had taken place in the century which ended in 1858, that its initiator was Linnaeus (the bicentenary of whose first employment of the "binomial system" we also celebrate in 1958) and that Darwin himself was a product rather than a cause of it. Well before the appearance of the Origin, systematists were seeking for what they already called a natural system (one that corresponded to the "Plan of Creation") which Darwin himself equated with his genealogical one, and in their discussions they used phrases like "closely related to" and "referable to the same basic type as" which needed only to be taken literally instead of more or less metaphorically to give them a Darwinian content. So it is understandable that the acceptance of the theory of evolution made no great difference to the practice of systematics, and in the decade or two after 1858 no evident disparity showed itself between the practice of those systematists who accepted Darwin's doctrine and those who did not." (Crowson, R.A., "Darwin and Classification," in Barnett, S.A., ed., "A Century of Darwin," , Mercury Books: London, 1962, pp.119,121- 122). 28/09/2000 "It is no easy matter to deal with so deeply ingrained and common-sense a belief as that in spontaneous generation. One can ask for nothing better in such a pass than a noisy and stubborn opponent, and this Pasteur had in the naturalist Felix Pouchet, whose arguments before the French Academy of Sciences drove Pasteur to more and more rigorous experiments. When he had finished, nothing remained of the belief in spontaneous generation. We tell this story to beginning students of biology as though it represents a triumph of reason over mysticism. In fact it is very nearly the opposite. The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation; the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position. For this reason many scientists a century ago chose to regard the belief in spontaneous generation as a "philosophical necessity." It is a symptom of the philosophical poverty of our time that this necessity is no longer appreciated. Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing." (Wald, G., "The origin of life," Scientific American, Vol. 191, No. 2, August 1954, pp.45-53, pp.45-46) 28/09/2000 "After Watson and Crick, we know that genes themselves, within their minute internal structure, are long strings of pure digital information. What is more, they are truly digital, in the full and strong sense of computers and compact disks, not in the weak sense of the nervous system. The genetic code is not a binary code as in computers, nor an eight-level code as in some telephone systems, but a quaternary code, with four symbols. The machine code of the genes is uncannily computerlike. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular- biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer-engineering journal." (Dawkins, R., "River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life," Phoenix: London, 1996, pp.19-20)[top] October 1/10/2000 "But that wasn't to say there was no Eve. And while Africa was still the strongest candidate (in most people's minds), there was the chance-always subject to sudden and drastic change - that Eve had been where many people always thought she had been: in the Middle East, land of the Bible and that chapter called Genesis." (Brown, M.H., "The Search for Eve," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1990, p.299) 1/10/2000 "The origin of life has been explained by many theories which have become progressively incompatible with the progress of scientific knowledge: spontaneous generation; cosmic fertilization, according to which the Earth was sown with germ-cells brought by meteorites or by interstellar cosmic dust; creation by pure chance. None of these suggestions stand up to serious critical examination." (Tetry, A., "The Cell," in Rostand, J. & Tetry, A., "Larousse Science of Life: A Study of Biology Sex, Genetics, Heredity and Evolution," , Hamlyn: London, 1971, p.56) 1/10/2000 "A general theory of biological evolution should include within its domain a number of problems that have hitherto resisted solution within the broad confines of the Darwinian, or indeed any other, research tradition. These problems include how life evolved from nonlife; how developmental programs evolve; what impact, if any, developmental dynamics have on the evolution of species; the relation between ecological dynamics and species diversification; and what is the best way of conceiving the mix between pattern and contingency in phylogeny. ... Our list of questions is not entirely haphazard. The origins of life, development, ecology, phylogenesis-these are the big questions that people think of when they hear the word evolution. It is answers to these questions that people want from evolutionists. That is why they so often feel put off when Darwinians confine themselves to talking about changing gene frequencies in populations and to throwing cold water on ideas about evolutionary direction, meaning, and progress." (Depew, D.J. & Weber, B.H., "Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection," , MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1997, Second printing, p.393. Emphasis in original) 4/10/2000 "However, there is a real danger that in explaining so much the theory actually explains nothing. This is the core of the philosophical doubt facing Darwinism. An example of the perils of 'explaining too much' can be seen in the notion of adaptation. When a biologist finds a creature with an intricate and useful adaptation-such as the chameleon's ability to change colour to match its background-he immediately explains it in terms of natural selection and evolution. In fact the existence of such adaptations is frequently taken as proof of the power of selection. But what will the biologist say when he finds a similar lizard without this camouflage adaptation? The chances are he will conclude that such an adaptation is unnecessary for the survival of the second lizard, or that selection has not been strong enough to 'create' it. Both of these conclusions may be valid- they seem reasonable enough-but we are tempted now to ask him what sort of evidence would contradict the idea of selection? If the presence of adaptations is evidence for selection, but the absence of adaptations is not evidence against selection, then is it possible to deny the existence of selection at all? In other words if selection can explain everything then it really explains nothing. Good scientific theories should be testable and even falsifiable." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.21. Emphasis in original) 5/10/2000 "In this way Darwinism is unique among scientific theories. Because it attempts to explain not only events in the outside world but also man's origins and his place in those events, Darwinism straddles the gap between philosophy and science, between faith and reason, in a way no other scientific theory does. If we were to discover tomorrow that Copernicus was wrong, that the sun actually does go round the earth rather than the reverse, what would happen? Obviously the physicists and astronomers would have headaches trying to reconcile the discovery with their other observations, but would it change your life or mine? Would we think of ourselves, or the purpose in our lives, in a different way? Probably not. Not so with Darwinism." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.9. Emphasis original) 6/10/2000 "It is therefore of immediate concern to both biologist and layman that Darwinism is under attack. The theory of life that undermined nineteenth-century religion has virtually become a religion itself and in its turn is being threatened by fresh ideas. The attacks are certainly not limited to those of the creationists and religious fundamentalists who deny Darwinism for political and moral reasons. The main thrust of the criticism comes from within science itself. The doubts about Darwinism represent a potential revolt from within rather than a siege from without. What is even more surprising is that these doubts are arising simultaneously from several independent branches of science. With a growth in the appreciation of the philosophy of science-largely due to the influence of the philosopher Karl Popper-has come a doubt about whether Darwinism is, strictly speaking, scientific. Is the theory actually testable-as good theories must be? Is the idea of natural selection based on a tautology, a simple restatement of some initial assumptions? From within biology the doubts have come from scientists in half a dozen separate fields." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.10) 8/10/2000 "This is typical of the way in which neo-Darwinism can 'explain' many of the observations of nature (I say 'explain' in quotes because, convincing as the bear story is, such explanations are really post-hoc rationalizations rather than true, known, reasons for what is observed)." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.16) 8/10/2000 "Of course, neo-Darwinism admits that there are other means by which new species may arise. In many plants new mutants which are both physically and genetically 'new species' may appear in a single step, over one generation rather than thousands. In such cases the origin of species has nothing to do with the gradual accumulation of beneficial variants in response to the environment, it is rather an abrupt ll-or-nothing event in which natural selection is reduced to a crude life-or-death role. Such dramatic events are the exception in neo- Darwinian theory; the bulk of new adaptations and new species are thought to arise gradually-the result of many changes over many generations." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.17) 8/10/2000 "Ironically it is this apparent strength of the theory-that it can explain so much-which may be its Achilles' heel. Neo-Darwinism is incredibly ambitious; it attempts to explain a vast part of reality, all the subtlety and complexity of nature, in one breath. But do all the individual pieces of this cosmic jigsaw puzzle actually fit together? It is all very well to half close your eyes and imagine you see a coherent picture, but what is it like in close-up?" (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.20) 8/10/2000 "It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, `mad cow' disease, and many others, but I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate." (Dawkins, R., "Is Science a Religion?," The Humanist, Vol. 57, No. 1., January/February 1997) 8/10/2000 "Another philosophical question regards the very definition of the word 'selection'. One of the original formulations of selection was 'the survival of the fittest'. If you open a standard textbook of genetics 'fitness' will probably be defined as 'the ability to survive' or something similar. But if the 'fittest' are defined as 'the best survivors' then the idea of natural selection becomes 'the survival of those best at surviving'. So what else is new? If there is no more to Darwinism than a truism then the whole theory rests on very shaky ground." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.21) 9/10/2000 "Among the biologists-as opposed to philosophers-there are doubts of different origin. What has caused concern scientifically is that when you look closely at the 'joins' in the jigsaw puzzle of evolutionary theory the individual pieces don't seem to interlock as neatly as it appeared they did from a distance." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.22) 9/10/2000 "Is selection really so strong? If the philosophers are satisfied that the idea of selection is not tautologous, that it really is a useful scientific theory, our next task is to measure it in the wild and find out how powerful a force it is. This has posed some difficulties. Not only is natural selection extremely difficult to pin down and measure, but many of the observations of variation among plants and animals in different environments also appear to contradict the expectations of selection. Why is there so much variability in creatures in the first place? Why doesn't that variability respond to environmental stresses in any predictable way? The vast amount of genetic variation that is now known to exist in most species does not confer any obvious benefits. In addition, the variation doesn't occur as one would expect-species found in stable environments seem to show as much variability as species in changing, unstable environments contrary to what Darwinian principles would lead one to expect." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.22) 19/10/2000 "How do new species arise? Darwin's original idea, that new species arise gradually from the action of natural selection over time, is now seriously in doubt. In fact Darwin was disappointingly vague and inexplicit about the actual mechanics of speciation (despite the title of his magnum opus). The events which lead to the 'creation' of new species are still largely a puzzle. Is selection alone strong enough to bring about new, distinct sexually isolated species in the wild? Is this process necessarily a gradual one, or may new species arise quite abruptly? The results of thousands of experiments and observations from nature are ambiguous natural selection may be strong enough to create adaptations, but some recent experiments suggest that selection may actually be irrelevant in the origin of species. There is also a wrangle over the speed at which new species are formed-the latest results implying that this may be sudden rather than gradual." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, pp.22-23) 19/10/2000 "Why don't we see gradual transition in the sequences of fossils? According to Darwin, and the current neo- Darwinists, the fossil record has gaps in it because of the haphazard way in which fossilization occurs-it is bound to be an imperfect record of the history of life. But is it? Is the jerky and abrupt nature of the record really just due to 'gaps', or does it reflect the way evolution actually happened? There is a strong feeling among leading palaeontologists that the punctuated history shown by fossils reflects the way life has evolved-in leaps and bounds rather than in gradual transition. There is also a growing sense that there is much more to understanding 'macroevolution'-the large-scale picture one gets from the fossils-than the simple idea of natural selection can alone explain." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.23) 20/10/2000 "Can we separate 'pattern' from 'process'? Every taxonomist since Darwin has interpreted life as a vast tree in which all living creatures are the tips of the branches, and fossils are the remains of ancestral branches. So the pattern of nature-the forms that exist now and in the past-has been interpreted in terms of the process of nature, the theory of branching evolution through time. But has this assumption clouded our vision of nature? Can we be certain that a particular fossil, which may appear to be intermediate between other creatures, is really an ancestor? With the growing sophistication of taxonomy there is a feeling that many of the neo-Darwinian assumptions about fossils and ancestry may be scientifically unfounded, and should be dropped. This realization, that the theory may be incapable of helping taxonomy, and may even be a hindrance to it, has led to a rejection of Darwinian ideas among some taxonomists who feel that we should be finding out more about the pattern before we become dogmatic about the process which is supposed to explain it." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.23) 21/10/2000 "The theory of natural selection can describe and explain phenomena with considerable precision, but it cannot make reliable predictions, except through such trivial and meaningless circular statements as, for instance: "The fitter individuals will on the average leave more offspring." (Mayr, E.W., "Cause and effect in biology," Science, Vol. 134, 1961, pp.1501-1506, in Mayr, E.W., "Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist,", Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, pp.31-32) 21/10/2000 "Although prediction is not an inseparable concomitant of causality, every scientist is nevertheless happy if his causal explanations simultaneously have high predictive value. We can distinguish many categories of prediction in biological explanation. Indeed, it is even doubtful how to define prediction in biology." (Mayr, E.W., "Cause and effect in biology," Science, Vol. 134, 1961, pp.1501-1506, in Mayr, E.W., "Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist,", Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, p.32) 21/10/2000 "Thinkers from Aristotle to the present have been challenged by the apparent contradiction between a mechanistic interpretation of natural processes and the seemingly purposive sequence of events in organic growth, reproduction, and animal behavior. Such a rational thinker as Bernard (1885) has stated the paradox in these words: `There is, so to speak, a preestablished design of each being and of each organ of such a kind that each phenomenon by itself depends upon the general forces of nature, but when taken in connection with the others it seems directed by some invisible guide on the road it follows and led to the place it occupies.'" (Mayr, E.W., "Cause and effect in biology," Science, Vol. 134, 1961, pp.1501-1506, in Mayr, E.W., "Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist,", Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, pp.29- 30) 21/10/2000 "In the final analysis, it is not any specific scientific evidence that convinces me that Darwinism is a pseudoscience that will collapse once it becomes possible for critics to get a fair hearing. It is the way the Darwinists argue their case that makes it apparent that they are afraid to encounter the best arguments against their theory. A real science does not employ propaganda and legal barriers to prevent relevant questions from being asked, nor does it rely on enforcing rules of reasoning that allow no alternative to the official story. If the Darwinists had a good case to make, they would welcome the critics to an academic forum for open debate, and they would want to confront the best critical arguments rather than to caricature them as straw men. Instead they have chosen to rely on the dishonorable methods of power politics." (Johnson, P.E.*, "The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism," Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, p.141) 21/10/2000 "I doubt that there is a scientist who would question the ultimate causality of all biological phenomena-that is, that a causal explanation can be given for past biological events. Yet such an explanation will often have to be so unspecific and so purely formal that its explanatory value can certainly be challenged. In dealing with a complex system, an explanation can hardly be considered very illuminating that states: `Phenomenon A is caused by a complex set of interacting factors, one of which is b.' Yet often this is about all one can say." (Mayr, E.W., "Cause and effect in biology," Science, Vol. 134, 1961, pp.1501-1506, in Mayr, E.W., "Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist,", Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, p.29) 21/10/2000 "The theory of species selection, growing out of that of punctuated equilibria, is a stimulating idea which may well explain some single dimensions of quantitative change in macroevolution. I would be very surprised if it could be used to explain the sort of complex multidimensional adaptation that I find interesting, the 'Paley's watch', or 'Organs of extreme Perfection and complication', kind of adaptation that seems to demand a shaping agent at least as powerful as a deity." (Dawkins, R., "The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene", , Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1983, p.108) 22/10/2000 "Finally, can genes build bodies? One of the truly gaping holes in evolutionary theory is the void in our understanding of how genes actually construct bodies. This is important for neo-Darwinism because selection is usually thought to act on individuals, in terms of survival or fitness, and yet the central mathematical theory of natural selection is expounded in terms of genes (a distinction which, as we shall see, is crucial). Is there the implied simple one-to-one correspondence between genes and bodies? It would appear that there is not. The processes which cause a bag of genes to 'become' a multi-million-celled complex organism are still a huge mystery, but the most recent theories of development appear hard to reconcile with the mechanistic and 'reductionist' neoDarwinism." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.24. Emphasis Leith's) 23/10/2000 "Wolfgang Pauli was once asked whether he thought that a particularly ill-conceived physics paper was wrong. He replied that such a description would be too kind-the paper was not even wrong. I happen to think that the religious conservatives are wrong in what they believe, but at least they have not forgotten what it means really to believe something. The religious liberals seem to me to be not even wrong." (Weinberg S., "Dreams of a Final Theory," Pantheon: New York NY, 1992, pp.257-258) 25/10/2000 "Unfortunately, the fact that scientists have devoted their lives to the study of Darwinism does not automatically mean that the theory is necessarily scientific. The alchemists in the Middle Ages spent their time and energy trying to convert base metals into gold and, of course, failed. We can now see that the theories underlying the alchemists' efforts were fundamentally mistaken, and although they would undoubtedly have considered themselves 'scientists', we would hesitate today to call their experiments scientific." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, pp.26-27) 26/10/2000 "Another part of Lovejoy's argument is that, because so drastic an anatomical rebuilding is required to transform a quadruped into a biped, an animal in which the evolutionary change is still incomplete would be an inefficient biped. `During this period, a reproductive advantage must have fallen to those in each generation that walked more frequently in bipedal posture despite their lack of efficiency,' he reasoned." (Leakey, R. & Lewin, R., "Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human," , Abacus: London, 1993, reprint, p.87) 28/10/2000 "The beginning of the evolutionary process raises a question which is as yet unanswerable. What was the origin of life on this planet? Until fairly recent times there was a pretty general belief in the occurrence of 'spontaneous generation.' It was supposed that lowly forms of life developed spontaneously from, for example, putrefying meat. But careful experiments, notably those of Pasteur, showed that this conclusion was due to imperfect observation, and it became an accepted doctrine that life never arises except from life. So far as actual evidence goes this is still the only possible conclusion. But since it is a conclusion that seems to lead back to some supernatural creative act, it is a conclusion that scientific men find very difficult of acceptance. It carries with it what are felt to be, in the present mental climate, undesirable philosophic implications, and it is opposed to the scientific desire for continuity. It introduces an unaccountable break in the chain of causation, and therefore cannot be admitted as part of science unless it is quite impossible to reject it. For that reason most scientific men prefer to believe that life arose, in some way not yet understood, from inorganic matter in accordance with the laws of physics and chemistry." (Sullivan, J.W.N., "Limitations of Science," , Pelican: Harmondsworth, Middlesex UK, 1938, pp.122-123) 29/10/2000 "TAKE SOME matter, heat while stirring and wait...That is the modern version of Genesis. The `fundamental forces' of gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces are presumed to have dodone the rest. They made the elements form and then react to produce the chemical building blocks of life: nucleic acids made of sugars and bases, proteins made of amino acids lipids and carbohydrates. Specific nucleic acids then began to direct the production of specific proteins. Nucleic acids and proteins that acted together to enhance their own multiplication thrived and continued to adapt. They became surrounded by membranes and evolved into complex cells and eventually into us. But how much of this neat tale is firmly established, and how much remains hopeful speculation? In truth, the mechanism of almost every major step. from chemical precursors up to the first recognisable cells, is the subject of either controversy or complete bewilderment." (Scott, A., "Update on Genesis," New Scientist, Vol. 106, 2 May 1985, pp.30-33, p.30. Ellipses original) 29/10/2000 "NATURAL SELECTION is a very grim natural reaper. Darwin made the bold claim that, at the very heart of evolution, many small deletions in bulk-many small wanton deaths-feeding on the throwaway optimism of minor variation, could, in a counter-intuitive way, add up to something truly new and meaningful. In the drama of traditional selection theory, death plays the star role. It works single-mindedly by attrition. It is an editor that knows only one word: "No." Variation counterbalances the one-note song of death by giving birth to the new in cheap abundance. It too knows only one word: "Maybe." Variation cranks out disposable "maybes" in bulk, which are immediately mowed down by death. Bulk mediocrity is dismissed by wanton death. Occasionally, the theory goes, this duet produces a "Yes!"-a starfish, kidney cells, or Mozart. On the face of it, evolution by natural selection is still a startling hypothesis. Death gives room for the new, it eliminates the ineffective. But to say that death causes wings to be formed, or eyeballs to work, is essentially wrong. Natural selection merely selects away the deformed wing, the unseeing eye. "Natural selection is the editor, not the author," says Lynn Margulis. What, then, authors innovation in flight and sight?" (Kelly, K., "Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines," , Fourth Estate: London, 1995, reprint, pp.479-480. Emphasis Kelly's) 29/10/2000 "These simulations of prebiotic chemistry began with the efforts of Stanley Miller in Chicago. In the early 1920s, Miller found that many of the amino acids used by modern life are formed in unexpected abundance when mixtures of gases such as, methane, ammonia and water vapour, probably present in the primordial atmosphere, are exposed to "lightning storms" in the form of electric sparks. Further simulations by Miller himself and many other researchers such as Carl Sagan at Cornell and Juan Oro in Houston, have yielded most of the other building blocks of life. Although some problems remain (nucleotides, for example, have proved difficult to produce, and the conditions required to make different important products sometimes appear incompatible), even critics of the established theories accept that life's simple building blocks were probably available on the early Earth. This view is strengthened by the discovery of a wide range of amino acids, purines, pyrimidines (components of nucleic acids) and other organic compounds in the meteorites that reach us from space. Difficulties arise when we try to take the simulation process any farther, by leaving the amino acids, nucleic acids, fats and carbohydrates lying around in the conditions expected to have prevailed on primitive Earth. Genes, enzymes, molecules of transfer RNA and living cells do not, of course, arise with as much ease as their basic components. The ultimate proof of the modern theory of genesis-the emergence of life from the "test tube"cannot be made to work. At least not yet." (Scott, A., "Update on Genesis," New Scientist, Vol. 106, 2 May 1985, pp.30-33, p.30) 29/10/2000 "A record of pre-Cambrian animal life, it appears, simply does not exist. Why this lamentable blank? Various theories have been proposed; none is too satisfactory. It has been suggested, for example, that all the Pre- Cambrian sediments were deposited on continental areas, and the absence of fossils in them is due to the fact that all the older animals were sea-dwellers. But that all these older sediments were continental is a theory which opposes, without proof, everything we know of deposition in later times. Again, it is suggested that the Pre- Cambrian seas were poor in calcium carbonate, necessary for the production of preservable skeletons; but this is not supported by geochemical evidence. Yet again, it is argued that even though conditions were amenable to the formation of fossilizable skeletal parts, the various phyla only began to use these possibilities at the dawn of the Cambrian. But it is, a priori, hard to believe that the varied types present in the early Cambrian would all have, so to speak, decided to put on armour simultaneously. And, once again, it has been argued that the whole evolution of multicellular animals took place with great rapidity in late Pre-Cambrian times, so that a relatively short gap in rock deposition would account for the absence of any record of their rise. Perhaps; but the known evolutionary rate in most groups from the Cambrian on is a relatively leisurely one, and it is hard to convince oneself that a sudden major burst of evolutionary advance would be so promptly followed by a marked 'slowdown'. All in all, there is no satisfactory answer to the Pre-Cambrian riddle." (Romer, A.S., "The Procession of Life," The World Publishing Co: Cleveland OH, 1968, pp.19-20)[top] November4/11/2000 "I remember perfectly well the intense satisfaction and delight with which I had listened, by the hour, to Bach's fugues ... and it has often occurred to me that the pleasure derived from musical compositions of this kind...is exactly the same as in most of my problems of morphology-that you have the theme in one of the old masters' works followed out in all its endless variations, always reappearing and always reminding you of the unity in variety." (Huxley, T.H., (1895), in Gilbert, S.F., "Developmental Biology," Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, Fourth Edition, 1994, p.3. Ellipses Gilbert's) 5/11/2000 "The argument is about the actual historical pattern of evolution; but outsiders, seeing a controversy unfolding, have imagi truth of evolution-whether evolution occurred at all. This is a terrible mistake; and it springs, I believe, from the false idea that the fossil record provides an important part of the evidence that evolution took place. In fact, evolution is proven by a totally separate set of arguments-and the present debate within palaeontology does not impinge at all on the evidence that supports evolution." (Ridley, Mark [Zoologist, Oxford University], "Who doubts evolution?," New Scientist, Vol. 90, 25 June 1981, pp.830-832, p.830) 7/11/2000 "Multiple hypotheses should be proposed whenever possible. Proposing alternative explanations that can answer a question is good science. If we operate with a single hypothesis, especially one we favor, we may direct our investigation toward a hunt for evidence in support of this hypothesis." (Campbell, N.A., Reece, J.B. & Mitchell, L.G., "Biology," , Benjamin/Cummings: Menlo Park CA, Fifth Edition, 1999, p.14) 8/11/2000 "In the face of the universal tendency for order to be lost, the complex organization of the living organism can be maintained only if work-involving the expenditure of energy- is performed to conserve the order. The organism is constantly adjusting, repairing, replacing, and this requires energy. But the preservation of the complex, improbable organization of the living creature needs more than energy for the work. It calls for information or instructions on how the energy should be expended to maintain the improbable organization. The idea of information necessary for the maintenance and, as we shall see, creation of living systems is of great utility in approaching the biological problems of reproduction." (Simpson, G.G. & Beck, W.S., "Life: An Introduction to Biology," , Routledge & Kegan Paul: London, Second Edition, 1965, p.145) 9/11/2000 "Indeed, all the biologists I have queried on this point have agreed with me that there are no sure marks of natural, as opposed to artificial, selection. In chapter 5, we traded in the concept of strict biological possibility and impossibility for a graded notion of biological probability, but even in its terms, it is not clear how one could grade organisms as "probably" or "very probably" or "extremely probably" the products of artificial selection. Should this conclusion be viewed as a terrible embarrassment to the evolutionists in their struggle against creationists? One can imagine the headlines: "Scientists Concede: Darwinian Theory Cannot Disprove Intelligent Design!" It would be foolhardy, however, for any defender of neo-Darwinism to claim that contemporary evolution theory gives one the power to read history so finely from present data as to rule out the earlier historical presence of rational designers-a wildly implausible fantasy, but a possibility after all." (Dennett, D.C., "Darwin 's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and The Meanings of Life," , Penguin: London, 1996, reprint, pp.317- 318) 10/11/2000 "And some false hypotheses make accurate predictions. Consider this hypothesis: "Night and day are caused by the sun orbiting around Earth in an east-west direction." This hypothesis predicts that the sun will rise each morning in the east, move across the sky, and set in the west, which is exactly what we observe. However, the "geocentric universe" hypothesis makes many other predictions that enable us to falsify the hypothesis. Of the many hypotheses proposed to answer a particular question, the correct explanation may not even be included. Even the most thoroughly tested hypotheses are accepted only conditionally, pending further investigation." (Campbell, N.A., Reece, J.B. & Mitchell, L.G., "Biology," , Benjamin/Cummings: Menlo Park CA, Fifth Edition, 1999, p.15) 10/11/2000 "The problem was, as so often, that adaptive explanations were just too powerful. They could explain anything. If they are, in Daniel Dennett's phrase, 'a universal acid', capable of eating through everything, they will eventually consume even the subjects we want them to illuminate. It's not much use having a magic substance that will unblock your intellectual drains if it eats out the bottom of the sink as well." (Brown, A., "The Darwin Wars: How Stupid Genes Became Selfish Gods," Simon & Schuster: London, 1999, p.119) 13/11/2000 "To me, the greatest problem regarding the origin of life lies at another level. In the first place, it seems necessary to face the difficulty of deciding what was the first organism. The origin of life represents a transition from the nonliving to the living, which I have great difficulty in imagining as a sharp one. I do not see, for example, how proteins could have leapt suddenly into being. Yet both heterotrophic and autotrophic metabolism are, in modern organisms, strictly dependent upon the existence of proteins in the form of catalysts. The riddle seems to be: How, when no life existed, did substances come into being which today are absolutely essential to living systems yet which can only be formed by those systems? It seems begging the question to suggest that the first protein molecules were formed by some more primitive "nonprotein living system," for it still remains to define and account for the origin of that system." (Blum, H.F., "Time's Arrow and Evolution," , Harper Torchbooks: New York NY, 1962, p.170. Emphasis in original) 24/11/2000 "So Darwin's assumption that the tree of life is a consequence of the gradual accumulation of small hereditary differences appears to be without significant support. Some other process is responsible for the emergent properties of life, those distinctive features that separate one group of organisms from another, such as fishes and amphibians, worms and insects, horsetails and grasses." (Goodwin, B., "How The Leopard Changed Its Spots: The Evolution of Complexity," , Phoenix: London, 1995, reprint, p.x) [top] December 3/12/2000 "Paleontologists had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin's postulate of gradualism, confirmed by the work of population genetics, and the actual findings of paleontology. Following phyletic lines through time seemed to reveal only minimal gradual changes but no clear evidence for any change of a species into a different genus or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary novelty. Anything truly novel always seemed to appear quite abruptly in the fossil record." (Mayr, E.W., "Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, pp.529-530) 3/12/2000 "Clearly something is missing from biology. It appears that Darwin's theory works for the small-scale aspects of evolution: it can explain the variations and the adaptations within species that produce fine-tuning of varieties to different habitats. The large-scale differences of form between types of organism that are the foundation of biological classification systems seem to require a principle other than natural selection operating on small variations, some process that gives rise to distinctly different forms of organism. This is the problem of emergent order in evolution, the origins of novel structures in organisms that has always been a primary interest in biology." (Goodwin, B., "How The Leopard Changed Its Spots: The Evolution of Complexity," , Phoenix: London, 1995, reprint, pp.xxi) 3/12/2000 "THE LAND EGG or reptilian egg, as it is also called has a very special place in the story of life as it lived on earth. The land egg is one of nature's greatest innovations. It made possible the conquest of the land, first by reptiles and then by birds and mammals. If the land egg had not developed, the land would have remained largely empty except for plants, invertebrate life and amphibians. As we have seen, amphibians are not strictly land animals; they cannot venture far from water, and most must return to the water to lay their soft, jelly-coated eggs. Some time after the first amphibians developed, evolution took a decisive leap forward. The first reptiles invaded the land. (The word `reptile' is derived from the Latin root repere, to creep or crawl.) These first reptiles, which had evolved from the amphibians, were able to do so because they had acquired an egg that could be laid and incubated on land. This land or reptilian egg was much more complicated than the simple amphibian egg. The water cradled and protected the amphibian egg against mechanical injury and desiccation. The developing amphibian got its oxygen and most of its food from the water, and its waste matter was discharged into the water. A land egg if it was to be successful had to provide everything the water had." (Stivens, D., "The Incredible Egg: A Billion Year Journey," Weybright & Talley: New York NY, 1974, pp.168-169. Emphasis original) 4/12/2000 "The bony-finned coelacanth, thought to be long extinct but rediscovered in 1938, has been approximately static some 450 million years (Avers 1989, 317). ... The nearly timeless species are not exempt from the changes of proteins that go on in all living beings, and they could surely vary in many ways without loss of adaptiveness, but their patterns have become somehow frozen. ... From the point of view of conventional evolutionary theory long-term stasis is hard to explain. Rapid evolution is comprehensive as species adapt to new conditions or opportunities but it is incongruous that species remain unchanged through changing conditions over many million years (Sheldon 1990, 114)." (Wesson, R.G., "Beyond Natural Selection," , MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1994, reprint, pp.207-208) 5/12/2000 "So, we have stasis. What are we to make of it? How do we explain it? Some of us would say that the lineage leading to Latimeria [Coelacanth] stood still because natural selection did not move it. In a sense it had no 'need' to evolve because these animals had found a successful way of life deep in the sea where conditions did not change much. Perhaps they never participated in any arms races. Their cousins that emerged onto the land did evolve because natural selection, under a variety of hostile conditions including arms races, forced them to. Other biologists, including some of those that call themselves punctuationists, might say that the lineage leading to modern Latimeria actively resisted change, in spite of what natural selection pressures there might have been. Who is right? In the particular case of Latimeria it is hard to know . ... Let us, to be fair, stop thinking in terms of Latimeria in particular. It is a striking example but a very extreme one ... It is conceivable that coelacanths stopped evolving because they stopped mutating perhaps because they were protected from cosmic rays at the bottom of the sea! - but nobody, as far as I know, has seriously suggested this ... " (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmake: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, pp.246,247) 7/12/2000 "But the roulette analogy hides rather than indicates the fantastic improbability of any major evolutionary advance produced by chance mutations. For such an event to occur, it is not enough that a certain required number, say the 17, should come up on the roulette table - but that it should come up simultaneously on a dozen or so tables in the same establishment, followed by the 18, 19 and 20 simultaneously on all tables. Let me illustrate this by a few examples. The first is very simple and trivial, involving only four roulette wheels. The giant panda has on its front limbs an added, sixth finger. This could be a typical case of a deformation caused by a deleterious chance mutation; it happens to be quite useful to the panda in manipulating bamboo shoots, but it would of course be a useless hindrance if it were not equipped with the requisite muscles, nerves and blood- supply. The chances that among all possible genetic mutations just those which produced the added bones, nerves, muscles and arteries occurred simultaneously and independently from each other are infinitesimally small. And yet in this case we have only four main factors four roulette wheel at work. When it comes to such composite marvels as the vertebrate eye - that classic stumbling block of the Darwinian theory with its retina, rods and cones, lens, iris, pupil and what have you, the odds against the harmonious evolution of its components by independent random mutations, i.e., by 'blind chance', becomes, pace Huxley, absurd. Darwin himself clearly realized this when, in 1860, he wrote to Asa Gray: 'I remember well the time when the thought of the eye made me cold all over.' It still has that effect on the upholders of the doctrine, so they avoid discussing it, or resort to elaborate evasions." (Koestler, A., "Janus: A Summing Up," , Picador: London, 1983, reprint, p.174. Emphasis original) 8/12/2000 "A spaceship approaches the Earth, but not close enough for its imaginary inhabitants to distinguish individual terrestrial animals. They see growing crops, roads, bridges, and a debate ensues. Are these chance formations or are they the products of an intelligence?' It is not at all difficult to formulate examples of events with exceedingly low probabilities. A roulette wheel operates in a casino. A bystander notes the sequence of numbers thrown by the wheel over the course of a whole year. What is the chance that this particular sequence should have turned up ? Well, not as small as 1 in 10^40000, but extremely small nonetheless. So there is nothing especially remarkable in a tiny probability. Yet it surely would be exceedingly remarkable if the sequence thrown by the roulette wheel in the course of a year should have an explicit mathematical significance, as for instance if the numbers turned out to form the digits of pi to an enormous number of decimal places. This is just the situation with a living cell which is not any old random jumble of chemicals." (Hoyle, F., "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections," Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 20, 1982, pp.1-35, p.15) 8/12/2000 "From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 Mev energy level in the nucleus of 12C to the 7.12 Mev level in 16O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put- up job? Following the above argument, I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature." (Hoyle, F., "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections," Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 20, 1982, pp.1-35, p.16) 9/12/2000 "Taking the view, palatable to most ordinary folk but exceedingly unpalatable to scientists, that there is an enormous intelligence abroad in the Universe, it becomes necessary to write blind forces out of astronomy." (Hoyle, F., "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections," Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 20, 1982, pp.1-35, p.15) 9/12/2000 "Could the vast store of information necessary for the development of biology have been accumulated in only ten billion years? If you are inclined to think that it could, take a look at what we know of the most recent four billion years, and what many people believe to be the beginning of the Universe in a big-bang cosmology. Such a beginning occurs in a holocaust of radiation little suited to harboring the delicate organization of biology, while the past three to four billion years on the Earth have yielded no change in the intricate biochemical complexity of life. The enzymes go essentially unchanged from the cells of a human to the most primitive single cells, which are thought to be typical of life as it existed in the early days of the Earth. Hence we have a situation without a promising beginning and with no change of the crucial aspects of the life system over the last one third to one half of the ten billion year time interval. Where then did the miracle of information contained in biological systems arise?" (Hoyle, F., "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections," Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 20, 1982, pp.1-35, p.5) 9/12/2000 "I have always thought it curious that, while most scientists claim to eschew religion, it actually dominates their thoughts more than it does the clergy." (Hoyle, F., "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections," Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 20, 1982, pp.1-35, p.23) 14/12/2000 "Nabokov's science gave him a sense of the endless elusiveness of reality that should not be confused with modern (or "postmodern") epistemological nihilism. Dissecting and deciphering the genitalic structure of lycaenids, or counting scale rows on their wings, he realized that the further we inquire, the more we can discover, yet the more we find that we do not know, not because truth is an illusion or a matter of mere convention but because the world is infinitely detailed, complex, and deceptive, "an infinite succession of steps, levels of perception, false bottoms" (SO II). He found this not frustrating but challenging, not niggardly of nature, in hoarding its secrets, but fantastically generous, in burying such an endless series of treasures for the human mind to unearth. This sense of design deeply embedded in nature's detail, of a playful deceptiveness behind things, of some kind of conscious cosmic hide-andseek, is fundamental to Nabokov, though hardly unique to him. Almost three thousand years ago the Bible declared, "it is the glory of God to hide a thing, but the glory of kings to search things out" (Proverbs 5:2)." (Boyd, B. & Pyle, R.M., ed., "Nabokov's Butterflies," Nabokov D., Transl., Allen Lane / Penguin Press: London, 2000, p.19) 14/12/2000 "Darwin wrote to Asa Gray in 1860. - `The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder, but when I think of the fine known gradation my reason tells me I ought to conquer the odd shudder.'" (Darwin, C.R., Letter to Asa Gray, February 1860, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life of Charles Darwin," , Senate: London, 1995, reprint, p.208) 17/12/2000 "The philosophical problem with Darwinism is that it actually explains too much, that it is difficult to falsify by experimentation. Once again this seems a nonsense: how can the ability to explain too much be a problem for a theory? Surely a good theory should be able to explain all the observations of nature? Nevertheless it is a real problem, and one that is appreciated not only by the philosophers of science but also by some of the biologists actively engaged in evolutionary research. The difficulty is that if a theory explains all observations it is in danger of being unfalsifiable in the same way that the existence of God is unfalsifiable ... And ... the leading twentieth-century philosopher of science, Karl Popper, is also worried about the scientific status of Darwinism. ... `it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience'. Popper, 1959" (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.27) 17/12/2000 "Darwin was spared a confrontation with the extraordinarily rapid origins of modern groups of mammals. He knew that the history of mammals extended back to the early part of the Mesozoic, but the record was not well enough studied in his day for him to recognize that the adaptive radiation of modern mammals did not commence until the start of the Cenozoic. Today, our more detailed knowledge of fossil mammals lays another knotty problem at the feet of gradualism. Given a simple little rondentlike animal as a starting point, what does it mean to form a bat in less than ten million years, or a whale in little more time? We can approach this question by measuring how long species of mammals have persisted in geological time. The results are striking; we can now show that fossil mammal populations assigned to a particular Cenozoic lineage typically span the better part of a million years without displaying sufficient net change to be recognized as a new species. The preceding observations permit us to engage in another thought experiment. Let us suppose that we wish, hypothetically, to form a bat or a whale without invoking change by rapid branching. In other words, we want to see what happens when we restrict evolution to the process of gradual transformation of established species. If an average chronospecies lasts nearly a million years, or even longer, and we have at our disposal only ten million years, then we have only ten or fifteen chronospecies to align, end-to-end, to form a continuous lineage connecting our primitive little mammal with a bat or a whale. This is clearly preposterous. Chronospecies, by definition, grade into each other, and each one encompasses very little change. A chain of ten or fifteen of these might move us from one small rodentlike form to a slightly different one, perhaps representing a new genus, but not to a bat or a whale!" (Stanley, S.M., "The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species," Basic Books: New York NY, 1981, pp.93-94) 18/12/2000 "Ridicule is a popular and political tool but not a scientific tool. If you want to challenge a thesis, you do it with facts and science." (Douglas K., "Taking the plunge," New Scientist, Vol. 168, 25 November, 2000, pp28- 33, p.33) 19/12/2000 "Equally chilling is the idea that some ancestral reptiles became transformed into birds by the small, step-by-step changes caused by random mutations affecting different organs. In fact one gets goose-pimples at the mere thought of the number of Monod's roulette wheels which must be kept spinning to produce the simultaneous transformation of scales into feathers, solid bones into hollow tubes, the outgrowth of air sacs into various parts of the body, the development of the shoulder muscles and bones to athletic proportions, and so forth. And this rewasting of bodily structure is accompanied by basic changes in the internal systems, including excretion. Birds never spend a penny. Instead of diluting their nitrogenous waste in water, which is a heavy ballast, they excrete it from the kidneys in a semi-solid state through the cloaca. Then there is also the little matter of the transition, by 'blind chance', from the cold-blooded to the warm-blooded condition. There is no end to the specifications which have to be met to make our reptile airborne or to construct a camera eye out of living software." (Koestler, A., "Janus: A Summing Up," , Picador: London, 1983, reprint, p.175) 20/12/2000 "The scientific materialists are bending all their efforts to demonstrate that, if a reaction leading up to life can take place now, in laboratory reaction vessels, without supernatural aid, then proof positive has been effectively delivered that no supernatural agency was needed to produce life at the beginning, at archebiopoesis. Thus any synthetic, laboratory production of life in the laboratory, under what are presumed to be conditions resembling those on the earth when life arose for the first time, is heralded in many circles as driving the last nail in God's and the supernaturalist's coffins. Who needs God and the supernaturalist position if life on the earth can be effectively accounted for without either? Before accepting this commonly assumed position let us consider the following: Is it not remarkable that this view is not generally recognized for what it is-an absolute contradiction? For all the efforts of the scientific naturalists to prove their point by the above mentioned method only serve, in fact, to verify the correctness of the supernaturalist position. For, is it not true that the scientific materialists are, in their experiment, applying intelligence and thought to the ordering of matter? Under the influence of intelligence they are hoping to produce living matter from its nonliving base. This is precisely the supernaturalist point of view." (Wilder-Smith, A.E.*, "The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution," T.W.F.T. Publishers: Costa Mesa CA, 1988, pp.xix-xx) 21/12/2000 "But what if the vast majority of scientists all have faith in the one unverified idea? The modern 'standard' scientific version of the origin of life on earth is one such idea, and we would be wise to check its real merit with great care. Has the cold blade of reason been applied with sufficient vigour in this case? Most scientists want to believe that life could have emerged spontaneously from the primeval waters, because it would confirm their belief in the explicability of Nature - the belief that all could be explained in terms of particles and energy and forces if only we had the time and the necessary intellect. They also want to believe because their arch opponents - religious fundamentalists such as creationists - do not believe in life's spontaneous origin. It is this combative atmosphere which sometimes encourages scientists writing and speaking about the origin of life to become as dogmatic and bigoted as the creationist opponents they so despise." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.111-112. Emphasis original) 23/12/2000 "Nabokov had a problem with natural selection. He stated repeatedly in Speak, Memory and elsewhere that he found natural selection inadequate to the task of explaining protective devices when developed to a degree of "mimetic subtlety, exuberance, and luxury far in excess of a predator's power of appreciation." Not that he was a creationist by any stretch: in his science as in his literature he often and explicitly celebrated the exuberance and wonder of organic evolution. Nabokov, like Darwin, was fascinated by mimicry in nature and by the astonishing array of protective adaptations in the survival repertoire of butterflies. But he doubted that Darwinian selection could tell the whole story." (Boyd, B. & Pyle, R.M., ed., "Nabokov's Butterflies," Nabokov D., Transl., Allen Lane / Penguin Press: London, 2000, pp.64-65) 31/12/2000 "Evolutionary biologists have a habit of ignoring the most pertinent criticisms of their theory until they can decently call them out-of-date." (Berlinski, D.*, "Denying Darwin: David Berlinski and Critics," Commentary, September 1996, p.26) 31/12/2000 "The problem of tautology in Darwinism is a subtle one. It hinges on the definitions of a few crucial words: 'the survival of the fittest.' This is the central claim that Darwin make that only the 'fittest' succeed in a struggle for 'survival'. If this basic statement does not tell us anything new about the outside world then the whole of Darwinism is in deep trouble. Unfortunately the senses in which these words are often used by biologists do turn the statement into a nonsense. If you turn to a textbook of genetics in search of a definition of 'fitness' you will find something like this: `The genotype with the largest survival rate is defined as the fittest ... ' Goodenough and Levine, 1975 So the central statement of Darwinism, 'the survival of the fittest', becomes: 'the survival of those creatures having the largest survival rate'! Immediately the problem is clear if you define fitness as 'the ability to survive' then the 'survival of the fittest' becomes a tautology, a self-evident bit of trivia. In this form the statement doesn't tell us anything about the outside world that we didn't know already. It doesn't, for example, enable us to predict which members of a population will survive and reproduce, since we cannot measure survival until afterwards. In this sense the neoDarwinists must avoid a sloppy attitude to their theory or it will turn out to say nothing." (Leith, B., "The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinism," Collins: London, 1982, p.30. Emphasis in original)
* Authors with an asterisk against their name are believed not to be evolutionists. However, lack of
an asterisk does not necessarily mean that an author is an evolutionist.
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Created: 18 July, 2004. Updated: 6 May, 2010.