The cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever will be.  ~ Carl Sagan  

Origin of man now proved. --Metaphysics must flourish. --He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke. ~ Charles Darwin 

There is grandeur in this view of life  ~ Charles Darwin

The question of questions for mankind -- the problem which underlies all others, and is more deeply interesting than any other -- is the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies in nature and of his relations to the universe of things.  Thomas Huxley

Darwin matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matters. Science matters because it is the preeminent story of our age, an epic saga about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. ~ Michael Shermer 

We are reluctant to acknowledge our relatives. They are strangers to us still. We feel ashamed: After imagining our Antecedent as King of the Universe, we are now asked to accept that we come from the lowest of the low -- mud, and slime, and mindless beings too small to be seen with the naked eye. ... The study of the history of life, the evolutionary process, and the nature of the other beings who ride this planet with us has begun to cast a little light on those past links in the chain. We have not met our forgotten ancestors, but we begin to sense their presence in the dark. We recognize their shadows here and there. They were once as real as we are. we should not be here if not for them. Our natures and theirs are indissolubly linked despite the aeons that may separate us. The key to who we are is waiting in those shadows.  ~ Carl Sagan  

I now wish to give some reasons why I regard Darwinism as metaphysical, and as a research programme. It is metaphysical because it is not testable.  ~ Karl Popper

All too often, there is a slide from science to something more, and this slide goes unmentioned -- unrealized even. For pointing this out we should be grateful for the opponents of evolution.  ~ Michael Ruse

Now I think that many people in this room would acknowledge that during the last few years, if you had thought about it at all, you’ve experienced a shift from evolution as knowledge to evolution as faith. I know that’s true of me, and I think it’s true of a good many of you in here. ~ Colin Patterson

I am very seriously interested in the sorts of questions which 500 years ago would have been given religious answers. What are we here for? Where did it all come from? In a way, I think religion is to be admired for asking the right questions.Richard Dawkins

The full implications of Darwin's revolution have yet to be widely realized. Zoology is still a minority subject in universities, and even those who choose to study it often make their decision without appreciating its profound philosophical significance. Philosophy and the subjects known as ‘humanities’ are still taught almost as if Darwin had never lived. No doubt this will change in time.  ~  Richard Dawkins

Universal acid is a liquid so corrosive that it will eat through anything! The problem is: what do you keep it in? It dissolves glass bottles and stainless-steel canisters as readily as paper bags. What would happen if you some how came upon or created a dollop of universal acid? Would the whole planet eventually be destroyed? What would it leave in its wake? After everything had been transformed by its encounter with universal acid, what would the world look like? Little did I realize that in a few years I would encounter an idea -- Darwin's idea -- bearing an unmistakable likeness to universal acid: it eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view, with most of the old landmarks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways. ~ Daniel Dennett 

Whenever Darwinism is the topic, the temperature rises, because more is at stake than just the empirical facts about how life on Earth evolved, or the correct logic of the theory that accounts for those facts. One of the precious things that is at stake is a vision of what it means to ask, and answer, the question "Why?" Darwin's new perspective turns several traditional assumptions upside down, undermining our standard ideas about what ought to count as satisfying answers to this ancient and in inescapable question. Here science and philosophy get completely intertwined. Scientists sometimes deceive themselves into thinking that philosophical ideas are only, at best, decorations or parasitic commentaries on the hard, objective triumphs of science, and that they themselves are immune to the confusions that philosophers devote their lives to dissolving. But there is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination. ~ Daniel Dennett 

Finally, the concept of evolutionary humanism has helped me to see how, in principle at least, science and religion can be reconciled. It has show me outlets for ideas and sentiments which can legitimately be called religious, but which otherwise would have remained frustrated or untapped.   Julian Huxley

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion — a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint — and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it — the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today. ~ Michael Ruse

Then, sometimes from the same person, you have evolution as secular religion, generally working from an explicitly materialist background and solving all of the world's major problems, from racism to education to conservation. Consider Edward O. Wilson, rightfully regarded as one of the most outstanding professional evolutionary biologists of our time, and the author of major works of straight science. In his On Human Nature, he calmly assures us that evolution is a myth that is now ready to take over Christianity.  ~ Michael Ruse

The importance of the Scientific Revolution for philosophy is beyond question. Modern philosophy – the work of both rationalists and empiricists would have been impossible without great advances in physics. Analogously, therefore, we could anticipate that the Darwinian Revolution will have important implications for philosophy. Indeed, I would go further and say that we might expect Darwin's work to have even greater implications for philosophy than those of physics. The theory of evolution through natural selection impinges so directly on our own species. It is not just that we are on a speck of dust whirling around in the void but that we ourselves are no more than transformed apes. If such a realization is not to affect our views of epistemology and ethics, I do not know what is. As I said in the Preface, I find it inconceivable that it is irrelevant to the foundations of philosophy whether we are the end result of a slow natural evolutionary process, or made miraculously in God’s own image on a Friday, some 6,000 years ago.  ~ Michael Ruse

Evolution destroyed the final foundations of traditional belief. To many people, it was evolution that would provide the foundations of a new belief-system. Evolution would lead to a deeper and truer understanding of the problems of knowledge. Evolution would lead to a deeper and true understanding of the nature of morality. Thus were born (what are known now as) 'evolutionary epistemology' and 'evolutionary ethics'.  ~ Michael Ruse

Almost no one is indifferent to Darwin, and no one should be. The Darwinian theory is a scientific theory, and a great one, but that is not all it is. The creationists who oppose it so bitterly are right about one thing: Darwin's dangerous idea cuts much deeper into the fabric of our most fundamental beliefs than many of its sophisticated apologists have yet admitted, even to themselves. ~ Daniel Dennett 

It is probably because I do have an intensely religious nature – using this term in a secular sense, as one might apply it to other nonbelievers like Thomas Henry Huxley -- that I was attracted toward evolution. Speaking in an entirely secular manner, I do not believe that people come to evolution by chance. From Herbert Spencer (1892) to Edward O. Wilson (1978), it has functioned as a kind of Weltanschauung, a world picture which gives meaning to life. It is something that acts as a foundation for the big questions which we humans face. Yet, in those early years, this was not apparent to me -- at least, it was not a matter of great interest to me.  ~ Michael Ruse

These new-style evolutionists--the mathematicians and empiricists--wanted to professionalize evolution because they wanted to study it full time in universities, with students and research grants, and so forth. However, like everyone else, they had been initially attracted to evolution precisely because of its quasi-religious aspects, regardless of whether these formed the basis of an agnostic/atheistic humanism or something to revitalize an old religion that had lost its spirit and vigor. Hence, they wanted to keep a value-impregnated evolutionism that delivered moral messages even as it strived for greater progressive triumphs. ~ Michael Ruse

Hence, Huxley saw the need to found his own church, and evolution was the ideal cornerstone. It offered a story of origins, one that (thanks to progress) puts humans at the center and top and that could even provide moral messages. The philosopher Herbert Spencer was a great help here. He was ever ready to urge his fellow Victorians that the way to true virtue lies through progress, which comes from promoting a struggle in society as well as in biology--a laissez-faire socioeconomic philosophy. Thus, evolution had its commandments no less than did Christianity. And so Huxley preached evolution-as-world-view at working men's clubs, from the podia during presidential addresses, and in debates with clerics--notably Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. He even aided the founding of new cathedrals of evolution, stuffed with displays of dinosaurs newly discovered in the American West. Except, of course, these halls of worship were better known as natural history museums.  ~ Michael Ruse

I am not only a materialist myself, but I do what I can to make other people materialists. ~  J.B.S. Haldane 

It seemed that all problems of heaven and earth were solved simply and convincingly; there was an answer to every question which troubled the young mind. Evolution was the key to everything and could replace all the beliefs and creeds which one was discarding. There were no creation no God, no heaven and hell, only evolution and the wonderful law of recapitulation which demonstrated the fact of evolution to the most stubborn believer in creation. I was so fascinated and shaken up that I had to communicate to others my new knowledge, and this was done in the schoolyard, on school picnics, and among friends. I remember vividly a scene during a school picnic when I stood surrounded by a group of schoolboys to whom I expounded the gospel of Darwinism as Haeckel saw it. ~ Richard Goldschmidt  

May your shadow never be less, and may all your enemies, unbelieving dogs who resist the Prophet of Evolution, be defiled by the sitting of jackasses upon their grandmother’s graves!   Thomas Huxley

When smashing monuments, save the pedestals -- they always come in handy.  ~ Stanislaw Lec

 

See also: Darwin Day  2  3  4

See also: The Darwin Legend

See also: Atheism as Nature Worship  2

See also: Darwin's God

See also: Down House

See also: A Creation Story for Young Materialists  2

See also: History  2

See also: Secular Humanism

 

 

 

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