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Charles Darwin  Erasmus Darwin  Leonard Darwin  Richard Dawkins  William Dembski  Daniel Dennett  Michael Denton  Alan Dershowitz 

 

Erasmus Darwin  (1731–1802)  Grandfather of Charles  Web  GBS

"Ere Time began, from flaming Chaos hurl'd 
Rose the bright spheres, which form the circling world; 
Earths from each sun11 with quick explosions burst, 
And second planets issued from the first. 
Then, whilst the sea at their coeval birth, 
Surge over surge, involv'd the shoreless earth; 
Nurs'd by warm sun-beams in primeval caves 
Organic Life began beneath the waves.

"First HEAT from chemic dissolution springs, 
And gives to matter its eccentric wings: 
With strong REPULSION parts the exploding mass, 
Melts into lymph, or kindles into gas. 
ATTRACTION next, as earth or air subsides, 
The ponderous atoms from the light divides, 
Approaching parts with quick embrace combines, 
Swells into spheres, and lengthens into lines. 
Last, as fine goads the gluten-threads excite, 
Cords grapple cords, and webs with webs unite; 
And quick CONTRACTION with ethereal flame 
Lights into life the fibre-woven frame. -- 
Hence without parent by spontaneous birth 
Rise the first specks of animated earth; 
From Nature's womb the plant or insect swims, 
And buds or breathes, with microscopic limbs. 

The Temple of Nature  (1802)  Canto I.IV  lines 227-250

ORGANIC LIFE beneath the shoreless waves 
Was born and nurs'd in ocean's pearly caves; 
First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass, 
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass; 
These, as successive generations bloom, 
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume; 
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring, 
And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing.
The Temple of Nature  (1802)  Canto I.V  lines  295-302

 

Erasmus Darwin  (1804–81)  Brother of Charles

In fact the a priori reasoning is so entirely satisfactory to me that if the facts won’t fit in, why so much the worse for the facts is my feeling.    Letter to Charles  November 23, 1859

 

Leonard Darwin  (1850–1943)  Son of Charles   President of the First International Congress of Eugenics 1912   Web  GBS

It is quite certain that no existing democratic government would go so far as we Eugenicists think right in the direction of limiting the liberty of the subject for the sake of the racial qualities of future generations.     Eugenics Review  February 1912

Dedicated to the memory of MY FATHER. For if I had not believed that he would have wished me to give such help as I could toward making his life's work of service to mankind, I should never have been led to write this book.    The Need for Eugenic Reform  (1926)  Dedication

In considering whether any method of selecting the better types for multiplication, or the worse types for elimination, can from a practical basis for eugenic reform, those eugenicists who, like myself, are hoping to be able to utilize the methods which have been effective in organic evolution, are inevitably led to consider what guidance can be obtained from a study of the action of natural selection.    The Need for Eugenic Reform  (1926)  p.112

Of all the problems which will have to be faced in the future, in my opinion, the most difficult will be those concerning the treatment of the inferior races of mankind.    Birth Control Review  April 1930  p.112 

It is true that I am generally opposed to anything in the nature of a controversy in any papers on scientific subjects. My Father always used to rejoice that Lyell had given him the advice to avoid such controversies and that he had always followed it.    Letter to R.A. Fisher  October 21, 1930

My firm conviction is that if wide-spread Eugenic reforms are not adopted during the next hundred years or so, our Western Civilization is inevitably destined to such a slow and gradual decay as that which has been experienced in the past by every great ancient civilization. The size and the importance of the United States throws on you a special responsibility in your endeavours to safeguard the future of our race. Those who are attending your Congress will be aiding in this endeavour, and though you will gain no thanks from your own generation, posterity will, I believe, learn to realize the great dept it owes to all the workers in this field.     Third International Congress of Eugenics  1934  p.24

 

Paul Davies  (b. 1946)  Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science  Web  Amazon  GBS  AV

Many investigators feel uneasy stating in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they admit they are baffled.    The Fifth Miracle  (1999)  p.17-8

The German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz, himself one of the founders of the science of thermodynamics, was one of the first to suggest that life somehow circumvents the second law. Eddington likewise perceived a clash between Darwinian evolution and thermodynamics, and suggested either that the former be abandoned or that an "anti-evolution principle" be set alongside it. Even Schrodinger had his doubts. In his book What is Life? he examined the relationship between order and disorder in conventional thermodynamics and contrasted it with life's hereditary principle of more order from order. Observing that an organism avoids decay and maintains order by "drinking orderliness" from its environment, he surmised that the second law of thermodynamics may not apply to living matter. "We must be prepared to find a new type of physical law prevailing on it," he wrote.    The Fifth Miracle  (1999)  p.52

Important though this demonstration was Pasteur's conclusion came into direct conflict with Darwin's theory of evolution. Darwin's celebrated tome On the Origin of Species, which had been published just three years before Pasteur's experiments, sought to discredit the need for God to create the species by showing how one species can transmute into another. But Darwin's account left open the problem of how the first living thing came to exist. Unless life had always existed, at least one species -- the first -- cannot have come to exist by transmutation from another species, only by transmutation from nonliving matter. Darwin himself wrote, some years later: "I have met with no evidence that seems in the least trustworthy, in favour of so-called Spontaneous Generation." Yet, in the absence of a miracle, life could have originated only by some sort of spontaneous generation. Darwins's theory of evolution and Pasteur's theory that only life begets life cannot both have been completely right.    The Fifth Miracle  (1999)  p.83

Life is  a phenomenon associated with a whole society of specialized molecules, millions of them, cooperation in surprising and novel ways. No single molecule carries the spark of life, no chain of atoms alone constitutes an organism. Even DNA, the biological supermolecule, is not alive. Pluck the DNA form a living cell and it would be stranded, unable to carry out its familiar role. Only within the context of a highly specific molecular milieu will a given molecule play its role in life. To function properly, DNA must be part of a large team, with each molecule executing its assigned task alongside the others in a cooperative manner. 

Acknowledging the interdependability of the component molecules within a living organism immediately presents with a stark philosophical puzzle. If everything needs everything else, how did the community of molecules ever arise in the first place?    The Fifth Miracle  (1999)  p.92

There are indeed a lot of stars -- at least ten billion billion in the observable universe. But this number, gigantic as it may appear to us, is nevertheless trivially small compared with the gigantic odds against the random assembly of even a single protein molecule.    The Fifth Miracle  (1999)  p.95

Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth -- the universe looks suspiciously like a fix. The issue concerns the very laws of nature themselves. For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient "coincidences" and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary in order for life, and hence conscious beings, to exist. Change any one of them and the consequences would be lethal. Fred Hoyle, the distinguished cosmologist, once said it was as if "a super- intellect has monkeyed with physics".

To see the problem, imagine playing God with the cosmos. Before you is a designer machine that lets you tinker with the basics of physics. Twiddle this knob and you make all electrons a bit lighter, twiddle that one and you make gravity a bit stronger, and so on. It happens that you need to set thirtysomething knobs to fully describe the world about us. The crucial point is that some of those metaphorical knobs must be tuned very precisely, or the universe would be sterile.

Example: neutrons are just a tad heavier than protons. If it were the other way around, atoms couldn't exist, because all the protons in the universe would have decayed into neutrons shortly after the big bang. No protons, then no atomic nucleuses and no atoms. No atoms, no chemistry, no life. Like Baby Bear's porridge in the story of Goldilocks, the universe seems to be just right for life.    "Yes, the universe looks like a fix"  June 26  2007

The origin of life is one of the great unsolved problems of science. Nobody knows how, where or when life originated. About all that is known for certain is that microbial life had established itself on Earth by about three and a half billion years ago. In the absence of hard evidence of what came before, there is plenty of scope for disagreement.    "Are Aliens Among Us?"  November 19  2007 

SCIENCE, we are repeatedly told, is the most reliable form of knowledge about the world because it is based on testable hypotheses. Religion, by contrast, is based on faith. The term “doubting Thomas” well illustrates the difference. In science, a healthy skepticism is a professional necessity, whereas in religion, having belief without evidence is regarded as a virtue.

The problem with this neat separation into “non-overlapping magisteria,” as Stephen Jay Gould described science and religion, is that science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed. When physicists probe to a deeper level of subatomic structure, or astronomers extend the reach of their instruments, they expect to encounter additional elegant mathematical order. And so far this faith has been justified.    "Taking Science on FaithNovember 24  2007

Over the years I have often asked my physicist colleagues why the laws of physics are what they are. The answers vary from “that’s not a scientific question” to “nobody knows.” The favorite reply is, “There is no reason they are what they are -- they just are.” The idea that the laws exist reasonlessly is deeply anti-rational. After all, the very essence of a scientific explanation of some phenomenon is that the world is ordered logically and that there are reasons things are as they are. If one traces these reasons all the way down to the bedrock of reality -- the laws of physics -- only to find that reason then deserts us, it makes a mockery of science.    

Can the mighty edifice of physical order we perceive in the world about us ultimately be rooted in reasonless absurdity? If so, then nature is a fiendishly clever bit of trickery: meaninglessness and absurdity somehow masquerading as ingenious order and rationality.    "Taking Science on Faith"  November 24  2007

The very notion of physical law is a theological one in the first place, a fact that makes many scientists squirm. Isaac Newton first got the idea of absolute, universal, perfect, immutable laws from the Christian doctrine that God created the world and ordered it in a rational way. Christians envisage God as upholding the natural order from beyond the universe, while physicists think of their laws as inhabiting an abstract transcendent realm of perfect mathematical relationships.    "Taking Science on Faith"  November 24  2007

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