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Antonio Lazcano  President of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life  Web  Amazon  GBS

Like Sisyphus, those trying to discover the origins of life and study the earliest stages of biological evolution have an uphill quest: Over and over it happens that a theory or explanation believed to be well established has to be abandoned or rethought in the light of new findings.    The Never-Ending Story  American Scientist  September 2003

Most rocks that are more than three billion years old have so thoroughly metamorphosed that life's precursor molecules are no longer detectable. There is no direct evidence of Earth's environmental conditions at the time of life's origin, either. No one knows the temperature of the early Earth, its ocean acidity, the composition of its atmosphere, or any other factors that may have substantially affected early life. Nor is there any fossil record of entities predating the first cells.    The Origins of Life  Natural History  Feb 2006  p.39-40

The exact pathway for life's origin may never be known. Many gaps on understanding persist.    The Origins of Life  Natural History  Feb 2006  p.41

 

L.S.B. Leakey  (1903 – 1972)  Fellow of St. John's College Cambridge  Web  Amazon  GBS

In 1933 I was fortunate enough to be able to lay before the scientific world the evidence which showed that we had found at Kanam in East Africa the oldest fragment of a real ancestor yet discovered, a real Homo, who was the approximate contemporary of the various side-branches of the human stem represented by Piltdown man, Pekin man and the Java ape-man.     Adam's Ancestors  (1934)  p.2

Many people will wonder why I should do so here, instead of in the preceding chapter which was entitled 'Our Stone Age Cousins'. My reason for doing so is that I believe that the Piltdown remains represent a human type much more closely allied to Homo sapiens than to any of the human types discussed in that chapter.     Adam's Ancestors  (1934)  p.219

No part of the face was found, so that we do not know at all whether there was a canine fossa or not, but on the other hand we have a very large piece of the right side of the lower jaw. When we examine this, and the teeth, we get a great surprise, for in many characters it is very much more like the jaw of an anthropoid than of a man. Not a few scientists have held that the jaw is in no way related to the skull, and that it represents an anthropoid ape, but on the whole it seems more than likely that the skull and mandible do represent a single individual.     Adam's Ancestors  (1934)  p.220

 

Richard Leakey  (b. 1944)  High School Drop-Out  Web  Amazon  GBS

As a schoolboy I adopted a kind of personal atheism, and was much ridiculed because my uncle was archbishop of East Africa at the time. There developed a campaign to "save me", to which I reacted by being even more adamantly atheistic.    Origins Reconsidered  (1992)  p.350

Isolated teeth, single bones, fragments of skulls: for the most part, these are the clues from which the story of human prehistory must be reconstructed.     The Origin of Humankind (1994)   p. ix

Needless to say, language and consciousness, which are among the most prized features of Homo Sapiens, leave no trace in the prehistoric record.     The Origin of Humankind (1994)   p. xiv

As a species, we are blessed with a curiosity about the world of nature and our place in it. We want to know – need to know – how we came to be as we are, and what our future is.     The Origin of Humankind (1994)   p. xv

The task of inferring an evolutionary link based on extremely fragmentary evidence is more difficult than most people realize, and there are many traps for the unwary. Simons and Pilbeam had been ensnared in one of these traps: anatomical similarity does not unequivocally imply evolutionary relatedness.     The Origin of Humankind (1994)   p. 8

Every human society has an origin myth, the most fundamental story of all. These origin myths well up from the fountainhead of reflective consciousness, the inner voice that seeks explanations for everything. Ever since reflective consciousness burned brightly it the human mind, mythology and religion have been a part of human history. Even in this age of science, they probably will remain so.     The Origin of Humankind (1994)   p. 156

 

John Lennox   Reader in Mathematics at the University of Oxford  Web  Amazon  GBS  AV

The fact that there are scientists who appear to be at war with God is not quite the same as science itself being at war with God. For example, some musicians are militant atheists. But does that mean music itself is at war with God? Hardly. The point here may be expressed as follows: Statements by scientists are not necessarily statements of science. Nor, we might add, are such statements necessarily true; although the prestige of science is such that they are often taken to be so.    God's Undertaker  (2007)  p.18

Before we leave Aunt Matilda we should note that her simple story helps to sort out another common confusion. We have seen how unaided scientific reasoning cannot find out why she made the cake; she must reveal it to us. But that does not mean reason is from that point on either irrelevant or inactive. The contrary is the case. For, understanding what she says when she tells us for whom the cake was made requires the use of our reason. We further need our reason to assess the credibility of her explanation. If she says she made the cake for her nephew Jimmy and we know that she has no nephew of that name, we will doubt her explanation; if we know she has a nephew of that name then her explanation will make sense. In other words, reason is not opposed to revelation -- it is simply that her revelation of the purpose for which she made the cake supplies to reason information that unaided reason cannot access. But reason is absolutely essential to process that information. The point is that in cases where science is not our source of information, we cannot automatically assume that reason has ceased to function and evidence has ceased to be relevant.    God's Undertaker  (2007)  p.43

The sheer vehemence of the protest fascinates me. Why is it so strong? Furthermore, why is it only in connection with this area of intellectual endeavour that I have ever heard an eminent scientist (with a Nobel Prize to his name, no less) say in a public lecture in Oxford: 'You must not question evolution'? After all, scientists have dared to question even Newton and Einstein. Indeed, most of us were (rightly -- dare I say?) brought up to believe that questioning standard wisdom was one of the most important ways in which science grows. All science, however well established, benefits from being periodically questioned. So why is there such a taboo on questioning evolution? Why is this, and only this, particular area of science a no-go area, fenced off from being questioned?    God's Undertaker  (2007)  p.93

If we are prepared to look for scientific evidence of intelligent activity beyond our planet, why are we so hesitant about applying exactly the same thinking to what is on our planet? There seems here to be a glaring inconsistency which brings us to the nub of the question we referred to in the introduction: Is the attribution of intelligent design to the universe science? Scientists, we emphasize, seem quite happy to include forensic medicine and SETI in the realm of science. Why, then, the furore when some scientists claim that there is scientific evidence of intelligent causation in physics (small furore) or biology (large furore)? There is surely no difference in principle. Is the scientific method not applicable everywhere?    God's Undertaker  (2007)  p.165-6

Of particular interest for our discussion is the statement, 'By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God's word, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.' This quotation from ancient biblical literature is remarkable in that it draws attention to a basic characteristic of information, namely, that information is invisible. The carriers of information may well be visible -- like paper and writing, smoke-signals, television screens or DNA -- but the information itself is invisible. 

Yet information is not only invisible: it is immaterial, is it not? You are reading this book; photons bounce off the book and are received by your eye, converted into electrical impulses and transmitted to your brain. Suppose you pass on some information from this book to a friend by word of mouth. The sound waves carry the information from your mouth to your friend's ear. from where they are converted into electrical impulses and transmitted into his brain. Your friend now has the information that originated in your mind, but nothing material has passed from you to your friend. The carriers of the information have been material, but the information itself is not material.    God's Undertaker  (2007)  p.168

Incidentally, is it not to be wondered at that our archaeologist immediately infers intelligent origin when faced with a few simple scratches whereas some scientists, when faced with the 3.5 billion letter sequence of the human genome, inform us that it is to be explained solely in terms of chance and necessity?    God's Undertaker  (2007)  p.172

If you have two distinguished scientists, and, in fact, you can arrange many more on each side (as you know) say exactly opposite things, that's telling me that the conflict is not between 'Science' and 'belief in God' -- otherwise you'd expect all scientists to be atheists. But it's a worldview conflict and it's between scientists who have different worldviews.     Expelled  April 18 2008  56.44

What is being presented to the public is 'First, comes the science, and then comes the worldview'. I would want to argue that that may not be the case. That it may actually be the other way around -- that the worldview comes first and is influencing the interpretation of science.     Expelled  April 18 2008  57.37

Admitting our biases is the best way towards rational discussion which I would welcome.     Expelled  April 18 2008  58.46

Dawkins: We only need to use the word ‘faith’ when there isn’t any evidence. 
Lennox: No, not at all. I presume you’ve got faith in your wife — is there any evidence for that? 
Dawkins: Yes. Yes, plenty of evidence. 
Lennox: Hmmm    
The God Delusion Debate  October 3 2007  Part I 36.20

 

Roger Lewin  PhD Biochemistry  News Editor of Science Magazine  Amazon  GBS

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.    Science  November 21 1980  p. 883

How is it that trained men, the greatest experts of their day, could look at a set of modern human bones the cranial fragments and "see" a clear simian signature in them; and see in an apes jaw the unmistakable signs of humanity. The answers, inevitably, have to do with the scientist's' expectations and their effects on the interpretation of the data.    Bones of Contention  (1987)  p.61

It is, in fact, a common fantasy, promulgated mostly by the scientific profession itself, that in the search for objective truth, data dictate conclusions. If this were the case, then each scientist faced with the same data would necessarily reach the same conclusion. But as we've seen earlier and will see again and again, frequently this does not happen. Data are just as often molded to fit preferred conclusions.    Bones of Contention  (1987)  p.68

The key issue is the ability correctly to infer a genetic relationship between two species on the basis of a similarity in appearance, at gross and detailed levels of anatomy. Sometimes this approach...can be deceptive, partly because similarity does not necessarily imply an identical genetic heritage: a shark (which is a fish) and a porpoise (which is a mammal) look similar.    Bones of Contention  (1987)  p.123

Racism, as we would characterize it today, was explicit in the writings of virtually all the major anthropologists of the first decades of this century, simply because it was the generally accepted world view. The language of the epic tale so often employed by Arthur Keith, Grafton Elliot Smith, Henry Fairfield Osborn, and their contemporaries fitted perfectly an imperialistic view of the world, in which Caucasians were the most revered product of a grand evolutionary march to nobility.    Bones of Contention  (1987)  p.307

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