"Darwin was the first to use data from nature to convince people that evolution is true, and his idea of natural selection was truly novel. It testifies to his genius that the concept of natural theology, accepted by most educated Westerners before 1859, was vanquished within only a few years by a single five-hundred-page book. On the Origin of Species turned the mysteries of life's diversity from mythology into genuine science." -- Jerry Coyne
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
This post is a collection of some of my favorite quotes.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it." -- Upton Sinclair
I can't believe the special stories that have been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be too simple, too local, too provincial. The earth, he came to the earth, one of the aspects of godcame to the earth mind you, and look at what's out there. It isn't in proportion.-- Richard Feyman
To accept evolution isn't just to acknowledge the obvious, that the evidence behind it is overwhelming. It is to open one's eyes to the endless beauty that life has generated and continues to produce. It is to become a knowing participant in the truest sense, in the living world of which we are all a part. -- Ken Miller
There is probably no other notion in any field of science that has been as extensively tested and as thoroughly corroborated as the evolutionary origin of living organisms. -- Encyclopedia Britannica
From the movie: You killed god sir. You have killed god.
THEORY: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses. The contention that evolution should be taught as a "theory, not as a fact" confuses the common use of these words with the scientific use. In science, theories do not turn into facts through the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the end points of science. They are understandings that develop from extensive observation, experimentation, and creative reflection. They incorporate a large body of scientific facts, laws, tested hypotheses, and logical inferences. In this sense, evolution is one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have. -- National Academy of Sciences
For all of those who do see the overwhelming evidence of natural selection and life's descent from ancestors, and the immense span of time over which the story of life unfolded, it is, to put it mildly, baffling how so many still do not. It is absolutely astonishing and often infuriating that some take it so far as to deny the immense foundation of evidence and to slander all the human achievement that foundation represents. -- The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Evolution by Sean B. Carroll
Even without fossils, we have evidence of human evolution from comparative anatomy, embryology, our vestigial traits, and even biogeography. We've learned of our fishlike embryos, our dead genes, our transitory fetal coat of hair, and our poor design, all testifying to our origins. The fossil record is really the icing on the cake. -- Jerry Coyne
Religion is a cruel hoax sustained by miracles, fear, superstition and ignorance. Evolution is a science sustained by proven facts. Take your pick. -- Dean Carson
The first thing to notice is that Mooney and Kirshenbaum are confused about the nature of the problem. The goal is not to get more Americans to merely accept the truth of evolution (or any other scientific theory); the goal is to get them to value the principles of reasoning and educated discourse that now make a belief in evolution obligatory. Doubt about evolution is merely a symptom of an underlying problem; the problem is faith itself—conviction without sufficient reason, hope mistaken for knowledge, bad ideas protected from good ones, good ideas occluded by bad ones, wishful thinking elevated to a principle of salvation, etc. Mooney and Kirshenbaum seem to imagine that we can get people to value intellectual honesty by lying to them.
-- Sam Harris
Scientific education and religious education are incompatible. The clergy have ceased to interfere with education at the advanced state, with which I am directly concerned, but they have still got control of that of children. This means that the children have to learn about Adam and Noah instead of about Evolution; about David who killed Goliath, instead of Koch who killed cholera; about Christ's ascent into heaven instead of Montgolfier's and Wright's. Worse than that, they are taught that it is a virtue to accept statements without adequate evidence, which leaves them a prey to quacks of every kind in later life, and makes it very difficult for them to accept the methods of thought which are successful in science.
-- J.B.S. Haldane
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
-- Isaac Asimov
Should Creationism be taught in public schools?
Oh God, no. Oh, Jesus. We thought we had made a big advance with the Scopes monkey trial….My God, evolution is a fact, and if these people are disturbed by being the descendants of monkeys and fishes, they’ve got a mental problem. We can’t afford the psychiatric bill for them. That ends the story as far as I’m concerned. -- Mike Gravel, former Democratic United States Senator from Alaska, who served two terms from 1969 to 1981, and a former candidate in the 2008 presidential election.
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
-- Charles Darwin
If the history of science teaches us anything, it is that what conquers our ignorance is research, not giving up and attributing our ignorance to the miraculous work of a creator.
-- Jerry Coyne
Science is a philosophy of discovery, intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance.
-- Neil deGrasse Tyson
Darwin knew a lot of biology: more than any of his contemporaries, more than a surprising number of his successors. From prolonged thought and study, he was able to intuit how evolution worked without having access to all the subsequent scientific knowledge that others required to be convinced of natural selection. He had the objectivity to put aside criteria with powerful emotional resonance, like the conviction that evolution should be purposeful. As a result, he saw deep into the strange workings of the evolutionary mechanism, an insight not really exceeded until a century after his great work of synthesis.
Darwin’s theory of evolution has become the bedrock of modern biology. But for most of the theory’s existence since 1859, even biologists have ignored or vigorously opposed it, in whole or in part. It is a testament to Darwin’s extraordinary insight that it took almost a century for biologists to understand the essential correctness of his views. -- New York Times
If the history-deniers who doubt the fact of evolution are ignorant of biology, those who think the world began less than ten thousand years ago are worse than ignorant, they are deluded to the point of perversity. They are denying not only the facts of biology but those of physics, geology, cosmology, archaeology, history and chemistry as well. This chapter is about how we know the ages of rocks and the fossils embedded in them. It presents evidence that the timescale on which life has operated on this planet is measured not in thousands of years but in thousands of millions of years.
-- From page 85 of "The Greatest Show on Earth, The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins
ID creationism adherents believe in ID creationism because they haven't considered, or don't want to consider, the possibility that they're just retarded. Well, it's time for them to consider it.
-- Mike Toreno
It takes nothing more than a child of a few years to understand the incompatibility of understanding how the world works as opposed to essentially Santa Claus type thinking. It is a matter of honesty to admit that someone being raised from the dead is not a belief compatible with what we know of in science or that the myriad of religious beliefs from around the world are simply not square with the scientific knowledge of the day. It is rank dishonesty to pretend that science and religion are compatible while trying to backdoor tons of material as 'outside' the realm of science. -- KevinB
To accept evolution isn't just to acknowledge the obvious, that the evidence behind it is overwhelming. It is to open one's eyes to the endless beauty that life has generated and continues to produce. It is to become a knowing participant in the truest sense, in the living world of which we are all a part.
Religion is the antithesis of science, an anesthetic for the mind that disables critical thought and encourages the acceptance of inanity as fact, and wishful thinking as evidence. -- PZ Myers
Your Discovery Institute is a horrific mistake, an epic intellectual tragedy that is degrading the minds of those who consume its products and bringing dishonor to you and to the church. It is for good reason that Casey Luskin is held in such extreme contempt by your movement's critics, and there's something truly sick about the pattern of attacks that your operatives launched in the weeks after the Biola event. It's clear that you have a cadre of attack dogs that do this work for you, and some of them seem unconstrained by standards of integrity. I can't state this strongly enough: the Discovery Institute is a dangerous cancer on the Christian intellect, both because of its unyielding commitment to dishonesty and because of its creepy mission to undermine science itself. I'd like to see you do better, but I have no such hope for your institute. It needs to be destroyed, and I will do what I can to bring that about.
There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.
-- Stephen Hawking
http://tinyurl.com/yclezr6 But, as Lovan noted in his piece, “83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children ‘religious or moral instruction.’” I weep for those children. For many of them are simply being brainwashed by their parents. Yes, that’s what it is—brainwashing. For a parent to ignore 150 years of solid science, feeding their children lies based on theology, is to deprive those children of the wonder of the universe—a wonder based on truth rather than medieval superstition. It kills off the part of a child that most needs nurturing: her sense of wonder, and all the possibilities of life that are opened up by that wonder. How many budding biologists have been stifled by their parents’ willful ignorance of science, and on their insistence that the Bible is the real source of biological information? Generation after generation of ignorance and religious dogmatism, all perpetuated by religously based home-schooling.-- Jerry Coyne
Humans aren't high on the evolutionary scale…there is no evolutionary scale. We aren't the pinnacle of anything.
You know, there’s this pervasive idea in biology that I think is wrong. It goes: we humans are at the pinnacle of the evolutionary tree, and as you get up that tree, brain size must get bigger. But a fly is just as evolved as a human. It’s just evolved to a different niche. -- Jeremy Niven
It would be so nice if those who oppose evolution would take a tiny bit of trouble to learn the merest rudiments of what it is they are opposing. -- Richard Dawkins
The field of molecular biology provides the most detailed and convincing evidence available for biological evolution. In its unveiling of the nature of DNA and the workings of organisms at the level of enzymes and other protein molecules, it has shown that these molecules hold information about an organism’s ancestry. This has made it possible to reconstruct evolutionary events that were previously unknown and to confirm and adjust the view of events already known. The precision with which these events can be reconstructed is one reason the evidence from molecular biology is so compelling.
-- Encyclopedia Britannica
Chance alone cannot explain the marvelous fit between individuals and their environment. And it doesn't. True, the raw materials for evolution--the variations between individuals--are indeed produced by chance mutations. These mutations occur willy-nilly, regardless of whether they are good or bad for the individual. But it is the filtering of that variation by natural selectionthat produces adaptations, and natural selection is manifestly notrandom. It is a powerful molding force, accumulating genes that have a greater chance of being passed on to others, and in so doing making individuals even better able to cope with their environment. It is, then, the unique combination of mutation and selection--chance and lawfulness--that tells us how organisms become adapted.
-- Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution is True, page 119
As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience unfortunately shows us how long it is, before we look at them as our fellow-creatures. ... This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honored and practiced by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually becomes incorporated in public opinion.
-- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871
If anything is absolutely, rock-bottom true, it’s that life evolved, beginning about 4 billion years ago, and that the creation myth of Genesis is completely wrong.
-- Jerry Coyne
From page 4 of "The Greatest Show on Earth, The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins: The plight of many science teachers today is not less dire. When they attempt to expound the central and guiding principle of biology; when they honestly place the living world in its historical context -- which means evolution; when they explore and explain the very nature of life itself, they are harried and stymied, hassled and bullied, even threatened with loss of their jobs. At the very least their time is wasted at every turn. They are likely to receive menacing letters from parents, and have to endure the sarcastic smirks and close-folded arms of brainwashed children. They are supplied with state-approved textbooks that have had the word 'evolution' systematically expunged, or bowdlerized into 'change over time'.
The Theologian is an owl, sitting on an old dead branch in the tree of human knowledge, and hooting the same old hoots that have been hooted for hundreds and thousands of years, but he has never given a hoot for progress.
The religious imagination is paltry and petty compared to the awesome reality. -- PZ Myers
From page 8 of The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins: Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and mantenees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips ... continue the list as long as long as desired. That didn't have to be true. It is not self-evidently, tautologically, obviously true, and there was a time when most people, even educated people, thought it wasn't. It didn't have to be true, but it is. We know this because a rising flood of evidence supports it. Evolution is a fact, and this book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.
Your comments are evidence yet again, though it isn't needed, that religions only survive because of the invincible ignorance of their practitioners. Not just ignorance of biology, and physics, and geology, and cosmology, but ignorance of history, and of anthropology, and sociology and psychology. An ignorance that enables the individual member at one particluar time and place to imagine that they, uniquely, have the truth, and that all of the other billions of humans who live now, and lived in the past, didn't. What extraordinary arrogance and ignorance. Encouraged, indeed demanded, by the leaders of every religious cult, for various motives that have nothing to do with any supposed reality of an imaginary second life. And everything to do with power, and wealth, and misogyny, and xenophobia.
Over the past quarter-century, poll after poll has revealed that nearly half of all Americans flatly reject evolution, many clinging to the ancient superstition that the earth was created only 6,000 years ago, complete with all existing species. But as Richard Dawkins shows in his splendid new book, The Greatest Show on Earth, the theory of evolution is supported by at least as much evidence as is the germ theory of disease--heaps of it, and from many areas of biology. So why is it contemptible to reject germ theory but socially acceptable to reject evolutionary theory?
One answer is religion. Unlike germ theory, the idea of evolution strikes at the heart of human ego, suggesting that we were not the special object of God's attention but were made by the same blind and mindless process of natural selection that also built ferns, fish and rabbits. Another answer is ignorance: most Americans are simply unaware of the multifarious evidence that makes evolution more than "just a theory," and don't even realize that a scientifictheory is far more than idle speculation.
Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.
-- Theodosius Dobzhansky
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
Evolution is God's redundancy notice, his pink slip.
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. -- Richard Dawkins
I should love to have everybody taught about evolution from a fairly early age, because it is so important, so exciting. It answers so many questions and mysteries; it solves so many problems. Until you know about it, you're wandering around on this Earth looking at trees and birds and flowers, not knowing why any of them is there. Evolution is the answer to that riddle, so you're not really a whole person if you don't know where you come from and why you exist. And it's not difficult. It's not like relativity, it's not like quantum theory – it's something teachable to fairly young children. -- Richard Dawkins
Darwin anticipated problems with his theory. Modern science has answered them. Evolution by Natural Selection has been triumphantly vindicated as fact. -- Richard Dawkins
So the case is closed in a most beautiful way, and that is, the prediction of evolution of common ancestry is fulfilled by that lead-pipe evidence that you see here in terms of tying everything together, that our chromosome formed by the fusion from our common ancestor is Chromosome Number 2. Evolution has made a testable prediction and has passed.
In October 2008 a group of about sixty American high-school teachers met at the Center for Science Education of Emory University, in Atlanta. Some of the horror stories they had to tell deserve wide attention. One teacher reported that students 'burst into tears' when told they would be studying evolution. Another teacher described how students repeatedly screamed 'No!' when he began talking about evolution in class. Another reported that pupils demanded to know why they had to learn about evolution, given that it was 'only a theory'. Yet another teacher described how 'churches train students to come to school with specific questions to ask to sabotage my lessons'.
-- From page 434 of "The Greatest Show on Earth, The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins
"The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution" by Sean B. Carroll
Now, nearly 150 years later, we can see. We no longer look at Nature's diversity "as a savage looks at a ship." From the new DNA record, the evidence of the workings of the evolutionary process abounds. But many people--a great many--either do not see what scientists see, or do not believe what scientists have concluded.
I have borrowed the title of this chapter from the wonderful book Seeing and Believing by Richard Panek, about the invention of the telescope and how it changed our perception of the sky and our place in the universe. Like Darwin, Galileo's observations and ideas were rejected by authorities who had no use for new evidence or ideas. But, eventually, the observable evidence overwhelmed ideological resistance. For all of those who do see the overwhelming evidence of natural selection and life's descent from ancestors, and the immense span of time over which the story of life unfolded, it is, to put it mildly, baffling how so many still do not. It is absolutely astonishing and often infuriating that some take it so far as to deny the immense foundation of evidence and to slander all the human achievement that foundation represents.
With the facts on evolution's side, how can this doubt and denial persist, or even be growing, here at the outset of the twenty-first century?
Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences
Department Position on Evolution and "Intelligent Design"
The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.
The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of "intelligent design." While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.
From the Paleontological Society
Evolution is both a scientific fact and a scientific theory. Evolution is a fact in the sense that life has changed through time. In nature today, the characteristics of species are changing, and new species are arising. The fossil record is the primary factual evidence for evolution in times past, and evolution is well documented by further evidence from other scientific disciplines, including comparative anatomy, biogeography, genetics, molecular biology, and studies of viral and bacterial diseases. Evolution is also a theory – an explanation for the observed changes in life through Earth history that has been tested numerous times and repeatedly confirmed.
From the National Association of Biology Teachers
While modern biologists constantly study and deliberate the patterns, mechanisms, and pace of evolution, they agree that all living things share common ancestors. The fossil record and the diversity of extant organisms, combined with modern techniques of molecular biology, taxonomy, and geology, provide exhaustive examples of and powerful evidence for current evolutionary theory. Genetic variation, natural selection, speciation, and extinction are well-established components of modern evolutionary theory. Explanations are constantly modified and refined as warranted by new scientific evidence that accumulates over time, which demonstrates the integrity and validity of the field. Scientists have firmly established evolution as an important natural process.
From Judge Jones' decision in the 2005 Dover trial
It is our view that a reasonable, objective observer would, after reviewing both the voluminous record in this case, and our narrative, reach the inescapable conclusion that ID is an interesting theological argument, but that it is not science ... In summary, the [school board's] disclaimer singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text [Of Pandas and People] as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forego scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere.
"The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution" by Sean B. Carroll
Fortunately, there is, however, an altogether new way of deciphering species' relationships. It also relies on DNA, but rather than being based on the degree of sequence similarity, it looks for the presence and absence of certain landmarks in specific places in species DNA. These landmarks are produced by accidental insertions of junk DNA sequences near genes. Particular chunks of junk DNA, call long interspersed elements (LINES) and short interspersed elements (SINES), are very easy to detect. Once a SINE or LINE is inserted, there is no active mechanism for removing it. The insertion of these elements marks a gene in a species, and is then inherited by all species descended from it. They are really perfect tracers of genealogy. These insertion events are very rare; therefore, their presence in the same place in the DNA of two species can be explained only by the species sharing a common ancestor. The inheritance of variable markers in DNA is the same principle applied to paternity testing in humans. By surveying the distribution of a number of elements that arose at different times in different ancestors, biologists have sufficient forensic evidence to determine species' kinship beyond any doubt.
My point here is that there is anincredible amount of evidence for evolution, far more than any one person can digest, and that it is a vital field, still growing and still producing new results. All those papers don't get published unless they contain some new observation, a new experiment, a new test of the idea…and evolution has weathered them all.
The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions being made by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken.
Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are our intellectual slave holders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.
Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says "I'm willing Lord, to do whatever you want me to do". But since there are no actual gods talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas.
This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and recognize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.
If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the millions of their fellow followers.
-- Bill Maher
Q. So what you're testifying here is that modern genetics and molecular biology actually support evolutionary theory?
A. They support it in great detail. And the closer that we can get to looking at the details of the human genome, the more powerful the evidence has become.
It's hard not to look at someone like Don McLeroy, professional science-denier and flaming creationist asshole, and not feel considerable disgust that that man was in charge of destroying the public school curriculum in the state.
An essential element in the teaching of science is the encouragement of students and teachers to critically appraise the evidence for notions being taught as science. The Society states unequivocally that the dogmatic teaching of notions such as Creationism within a science curriculum stifles the development of critical thinking patterns in the developing mind and seriously compromises the best interests of objective public education. This could eventually hamper the advancement of science and technology as students take their places as leaders of future generations.
— Geological Society of Australia
The Hominidae (anglicized hominids, also known as great apes) form a taxonomicfamily, including four extant genera: chimpanzee, gorillas, humans, and orangutans. -- Wikipedia
page 3 of Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.
"Yet Darwin looked beyond the obvious, suggesting--and supporting with copious evidence--two ideas that forever dispelled the idea of deliberate design. Those ideas were evolution and natural selection. He was not the first to think of evolution--several before him, including his own grandfather Erasmus Darwin, floated the idea that life had evolved. But Darwin was the first to use data from nature to convince people that evolution is true, and his idea of natural selection was truly novel. It testifies to his genius that the concept of natural theology, accepted by most educated Westerners before 1859, was vanquished within only a few years by a single five-hundred-page book. On the Origin of Species turned the mysteries of life's diversity from mythology into genuine science."
-- Jerry Coyne
Creation science has not entered the curriculum for a reason so simple and so basic that we often forget to mention it: because it is false, and because good teachers understand exactly why it is false. What could be more destructive of that most fragile yet most precious commodity in our entire intellectual heritage -- good teaching -- than a bill forcing honorable teachers to sully their sacred trust by granting equal treatment to a doctrine not only known to be false, but calculated to undermine any general understanding of science as an enterprise?