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DMS Watson EO Wilson Kurt Wise
George Wald (1906 - 1997) Professor of Biology at Harvard University Nobel Laureate Web Amazon GBS AV
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. "The origin of life" Scientific American August 1954 p.46
One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation. "The origin of life" Scientific American August 1954 p.46
The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at least once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at-least-once. And for life as we know it, with its capacity for growth and reproduction, once may be enough.
Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the "impossible" becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles. "The origin of life" Scientific American August 1954 p.48
Wherever life is possible, given time, it should arise. It should then ramify into a wide array of forms, differing in detail from those we now observe (as did earlier organisms on the earth) yet including many which should look familiar to us -- perhaps even men.
We are not alone in the universe, and do not bear alone the whole burden of life and what comes of it. Life is a cosmic event -- so far as we know the most complex state of organization that matter has achieved in our cosmos. It has come many times, in many places -- places closed off from us by impenetrable distances, probably never to be crossed even with a signal. "The origin of life" Scientific American August 1954 p.53
D.M.S. Watson (1886 - 1973) Jodrell Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University of London
The only great generalisation which has so far come from the zoological studies is that of evolution -- the conception that the whole variety of animal life, and the system of inter-relationships which exists between animals and their environment, both living and non-living, have arisen by gradual change from simpler of, at any rate, different conditions.
Evolution itself is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or is supported by logically coherent arguments, but because it does fit all the facts of taxonomy, of paleontology, and of geographical distribution, and because no alternative explanation is credible.
Whilst the fact of evolution is accepted by every biologist, the mode in which it has occurred and the mechanism by which it has been brought about are still disputable. Nature August 10, 1929 p.231
That these structural differences are adaptive even in the sense that, no matter in what circumstances they arose, they do now in fact fit each form especially to its circumstances, is for the most part pure assumption. I do not know a single case in which it has been shown that the difference which separate two races of a mammalian species from one another have the slightest adaptive significance.
There is no branch of zoology in which assumption has played a greater, or evidence a less, part than in the study of such presumed adaptations. The implication which lies behind any statement that such and such a structure is an adaptation is that under the existing environmental conditions an individual possessing it has a greater chance of survival than one which has not.
The extraordinary lack of evidence to show that the incidence of death under natural conditions is controlled by small difference of the kind which separate species from one another or, what is the same thing from an observational point of view, structural features, renders it difficult to appeal to natural selection as the main or indeed an important factor in bringing about the evolutionary changes which we know to have occurred. It may be important, it may indeed be the principle which overrides all others; but at present its real existence as a phenomenon rests on an extremely slender basis.
The extreme difficulty of obtaining the necessary data for any quantitative estimation of the efficiency of natural selection makes it seem probable that this theory will be re-established, it it be so, by the collapse of alternative explanations which are more easily attacked by observation and experiment. If so, it will present a parallel to the theory of evolution itself, a theory universally accepted not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible. Nature August 10, 1929 pp.232-233
We know as surely as we ever shall that evolution has occurred; but we do no know how this evolution has been brought about. The data which we have accumulated are inadequate, not in quantity but in their character, to allow us to determine which, if any, of the proposed explanations is a vera causa. Nature August 10, 1929 p.234
James Watson (b. 1928) Nobel Laureate Web Amazon GBS AV
If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice that only a few are given under the present system. The doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so chose and save a lot of misery and suffering. Endorsing Infanticide? Time May 28 1973
Copernicus, Galileo and Newton had removed the Earth from its central position in the universe, although there was yet a grandeur in the ways the planets swept through space, and the regularities of their revealed the hand of the Creator. But the position of Man, as the image of God on Earth, was left unchanged by their revisions of the received cosmology. Darwin changed this. Although he made only the cryptic remark in Origin -- "Much light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history" -- his readers were under no illusion of the consequences of accepting evolutionary arguments for the origin of man. Darwin: The Indelible Stamp (2005) p.xiii
Our growing ability to unscramble
human genetic destinies will increasingly have an impact on how humans
view themselves and justify their behaviour toward others. Our children
will more be seen not as expressions of God's will, but as the results
of the uncontrollable throw of genetic dice that do not always give us
the results we want. At the same time, we will increasingly have the
power, through prenatal diagnosis to spot the good throws and to
consider discarding through abortion the bad ones. But to so proceed
flies in the face of the long-cherished idea that all human life is
sacred and intrinsically worthwhile. So there is bound to be deep
conflict between those persons who want to maintain revered values of
the past and those individuals who wish to have their moral values
reflect the world as now revealed by observations and experiments of
modern science. In particular, we are increasingly going to be accused
of unwisely "playing God" when we use genetics to improve the quality
of either current of future human life. Partly these accusations
reflect the objections of individuals who don't think we have the right
to do "God's" work. But I also sense that sometimes the uneasiness
comes from the fear that we might someday use genetic procedures in
Hitler-like ways, using our scientific powers to further discriminate
against unpopular political and racial groups.
But diabolical as Hitler was, and I don't want to minimize the evil he perpetuated using false genetic arguments, we should not be held hostage to his awful past. For the genetic dice will continue to inflict cruel fates on all too many individuals and their families who do not deserve this damnation. Decency demands that someone must rescue them from genetic hells. If we don't play God, who will? DNA: The Double Helix 1995 p.197
Richard Weikart (b.1958?) Professor and Head of Department of History at California State University Web Amazon GBS AV
Many leading Darwinists today also claim that Darwinism undermines the Judeo-Christian conception of the sanctity of human life. Dawkins wrote in 2001 that we should try to genetically engineer an evolutionary ancestor to the human species to demolish the "speciesist" illusion that humans are special or sacred. In the same article he expressed support for involuntary euthanasia. Another critic of "speciesism," Peter Singer, one of the leading bioethicists in the world, argues that Darwinism destroyed the Judeo-Christian sanctity-of-life ethic, so infanticide and euthanasia are permissible. James Watson, one of the world's most famous geneticists and a staunch Darwinist, has railed at the idea that humans are sacred and special.
Today's Darwinists are not Nazis and not all Darwinists agree with Dawkins, Wilson, Ruse, Singer, or Watson. However, some of the ideas being promoted today by prominent Darwinists in the name of Darwinism have an eerily similar ring to the ideologies that eroded respect for human life in the pre-Nazi era. Darwin and the Nazis American Spectator April 16 2008
Hitler and many of the physicians that carried out this program were very fanatical Darwinists and particularly wanted to apply Darwinism to society. Expelled April 18 2008 1.11.05
Darwin implied in The Descent of Man and Michael Ruse and E. O. Wilson have stated explicitly in an essay on “The Evolution of Ethics” that “Ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to co-operate.” Perhaps Ruse and Wilson find the pursuit of illusory morality liberating, but how can they then morally condemn Hitler (or Stalin or Mao) for pursuing their own illusions? The Impact of Darwinism The Stanford Review April 22 2008
Jonathan Wells PhD Molecular Biology PhD Cell Biology Web Amazon GBS AV
Biologists have known for over a century that Haeckel faked his drawings. Icons of Evolution (2002) p.82
More surprising is the fact that Collins is here citing experimental evidence against a theory he maintains is unscientific because it is not open to experimental testing. In claiming that evidence from gene duplication disproves ID, Collins is demonstrating that ID can be tested with scientific evidence. Either ID is unscientific, in which case evidence is irrelevant; or evidence can be cited against it, in which case ID is scientific. Collins can’t have it both ways. Darwin of the Gaps March 26 2008
How ironic. Collins claims he’s basing his case for Darwinism on new knowledge from genome sequencing, but he’s actually basing it on gaps in that knowledge. Collins himself argues that such an approach has “a dismal history.” Advances in science ultimately fill in those gaps, to the dismay of those who had attached their faith to them. Ultimately a “Darwin of the gaps” approach runs a huge risk of simply discrediting science. We must not repeat this mistake in the current era. Darwinism fits into this discouraging tradition, and faces the same ultimate demise. Darwin of the Gaps March 26 2008
'Evolution' is a slippery word. I would say 'Minor changes within species happen', but Darwin didn't write a book called 'How Existing Species Change Over Time'. He wrote a book called 'The Origin of Species'. He purported to show how the same process leads to new species, in fact, every species. And the evidence for that grand claim is, in my opinion, almost totally lacking. Expelled April 18 2008 31.29
Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947) Professor of Philosophy at Harvard Web Amazon GBS
In the first place, there can be no living science unless there is a widespread instinctive conviction in the existence of an Order Of Things. And, in particular, of an Order Of Nature . . . The inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner . . . must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God . . . My explanation is that the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology. Science and the Modern World (1925) pp. 3-4, 12-13
E.O. Wilson (b. 1929) Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard Web Amazon GBS AV
The biologist, who is concerned with questions of physiology and evolutionary history, realize that self-knowledge is constrained and shaped by the emotional control centers in the hypothalamus and limbic system of the brain. These centers flood our consciousness with all the emotions -- hate, love, guilt, fear, and others -- that are consulted by ethical philosophers who wish to intuit the standards of good and evil. What, we are then compelled to ask, made the hypothalamus and limbic system? They evolved by natural selection. That simple biological statement must be pursued to explain ethics and ethical philosophers, if not epistemology and epistemologists, at all depths. Sociobiology (1975) p.3
Human beings are absurdly easy to indoctrinate -- they seek it. Sociobiology (1975) p.562
It seems that our autocatalytic social evolution has locked us onto a particular course which the early hominids still witan us may not welcome. To maintain the species indefinitely we are compelled to drive toward total knowledge, right down to the levels of the neuron and gene. When we have progressed enough to explain ourselves in these mechanistic terms, and the social sciences come to full flower, the result might be hard to accept. It seems appropriate therefore to close this book as it began, with the foreboding insight of Albert Camus:
A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land.
This, unfortunately, is true. But we still have another hundred years. Sociobiology (1975) p.575
Every part of existence is considered to be obedient to physical law requiring no external control. The scientist's devotion to parsimony in explanation excludes the divine spirit and other extraneous agents. Most importantly, we have come to the crucial state in the history of biology when religion itself is subject to the explanations of the natural sciences. As I have tried to show, sociobiology can account for the very origin of mythology by the principle of natural selection acting on the genetically evolving material structure of the human brain.
If this interpretation is correct, the final decisive edge enjoyed by the scientific naturalism will come from its capacity to explain traditional religion, its chief competition, as a wholly material phenomenon. Theology is not likely to survive as an independent intellectual discipline. The Diversity of Life (1978) p.192
As were many persons from Alabama, I was a born-again Christian. When I was fifteen, I entered the Southern Baptist Church with great fervor and interest in the fundamentalist religion; I left at seventeen when I got to the University of Alabama and heard about evolutionary theory. The Humanist September 1982 p.40
The still faithful might say I never knew grace, never had it; but they would be wrong. The truth is that I found it and abandoned it. In the years following I drifted away from the church, and, my attendance became desultory. My heart continued to believe in the light and the way, but increasingly in the abstract, and I looked for grace in some other setting. By the time I entered college at the age of seventeen, I was absorbed in natural history almost to the exclusion of everything else. Naturalist (1995) p.43
Nothing in science -- nothing in life, for that matter -- makes sense without theory. It is our nature to put all knowledge into context in order to tell a story, and to re-create the world by this means. Consilience (1998) p.56
I grant that scientists often fall in love with their own constructions. I know; I have. They may spend a lifetime vainly trying to shore them up. A few squander their prestige and academic political capital in the effort. In that case -- as the economist Paul Samuelson once quipped -- funeral by funeral, theory advances. Consilience (1998) p.57
DMS Watson EO Wilson Kurt Wise
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