Natural Selection Quotes

Quotes tagged as "natural-selection" Showing 1-30 of 138
Richard Dawkins
“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, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

Charles Darwin
“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

Charles Darwin
“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.”
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”
Theodosius Dobzhansky, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution

William A. Dembski
“The very comprehensibility of the world points to an intelligence behind the world. Indeed, science would be impossible if our intelligence were not adapted to the intelligibility of the world. The match between our intelligence and the intelligibility of the world is no accident. Nor can it properly be attributed to natural selection, which places a premium on survival and reproduction and has no stake in truth or conscious thought. Indeed, meat-puppet robots are just fine as the output of a Darwinian evolutionary process.”
William A. Dembski, The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design

Charles Darwin
“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree...The difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection , though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered subversive of the theory.”
Charles Darwin

Ian McEwan
“It wasn't torpor that kept her - she was often restless to the point of irritability. She simply liked to feel that she was prevented from leaving, that she was needed.”
Ian McEwan, Atonement

Richard Dawkins
“Things exist either because they have recently come into existence or because they have qualities that made them unlikely to be destroyed in the past.”
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design

Charles Darwin
“Nevertheless so profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life!”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

Richard O. Prum
“Desire for beauty will endure and undermine the desire for truth.”
Richard O. Prum, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—And Us

Michael J. Behe
“The most essential prediction of Darwinism is that, given an astronomical number of chances, unintelligent processes can make seemingly-designed systems, ones of the complexity of those found in the cell. ID specifically denies this, predicting that in the absence of intelligent input no such systems would develop. So Darwinism and ID make clear, opposite predictions of what we should find when we examine genetic results from a stupendous number of organisms that are under relentless pressure from natural selection. The recent genetic results are a stringent test. The results: 1) Darwinism’s prediction is falsified; 2) Design’s prediction is confirmed.”
Michael J. Behe

Charles Darwin
“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”
Charles Darwin

Robert J. Sawyer
“If theft is advantageous to everyone who succeeds at it, and adultery is a good strategy, at least for males, for increasing presence in the gene pool, why do we feel they are wrong? Shouldn't the only morality that evolution produces be the kind Bill Clinton had - being sorry you got caught?”
Robert J. Sawyer, Calculating God

Lynn Margulis
“Natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn't create... Neo-Darwinists say that new species emerge when mutations occur and modify an organism. I was taught over and over again that the accumulation of random mutations led to evolutionary change [which] led to new species. I believed it until I looked for evidence.”
Lynn Margulis

Richard Dawkins
“Oxygen flooded into the atmosphere as a pollutant, even a poison, until natural selection shaped living things to thrive on the stuff and, indeed, suffocate without it.”
Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

Robert Wright
“Perhaps the most legitimately dispiriting thing about reciprocal altruism is that it is a misnomer. Whereas with kin selection the "goal" of our genes is to actually help another organism, with reciprocal altruism the goal is that the organism be left under the impression that we've helped; the impression alone is enough to bring the reciprocation.”
Robert Wright

Sam Harris
“What are the chances that we will one day discover that DNA has absolutely nothing to do with inheritance? They are effectively zero.”
Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Jerry A. Coyne
“Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive life form – perhaps a self-replicating molecule – that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection. ”
Jerry A. Coyne, Why Evolution Is True

Alfred Tennyson
“Nature, red in tooth and claw.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam

J.B.S. Haldane
“I am quite sure that our views on evolution would be very different had biologists studied genetics and natural selection before and not after most of them were convinced that evolution had occurred.”
John B. Haldane

Steven Pinker
“It looks as if the offspring have eyes so that they can see well (bad, teleological, backward causation), but that's an illusion. The offspring have eyes because their parents' eyes did see well (good, ordinary, forward causation).”
Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works

Robert J. Sawyer
“That natural selection can produce changes within a type is disputed by no one, not even the staunchest creationist. But that it can transform one species into another — that, in fact, has never been observed.”
Robert J. Sawyer, Calculating God

Moxie Mezcal
“We have stopped natural selection from purifying the species because deep in our heart of hearts, we are all terrified that we won't make the cut.”
Moxie Mezcal, Concrete Underground

Steven Pinker
“Reality is a powerful selection pressure. A hominid that soothed itself by believing that a lion was a turtle or that eating sand would nourish its body would be outreproduced by its reality-based rivals.”
Steven Pinker, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

Giannis Delimitsos
“Many ask: “Why are we so insincere, why are we so hypocrites?”. Well, it is because this is how human nature works. If there was a time and a place where human beings were 100% of the time honest, who always said what they had in mind and who didn’t care to cover their shortcomings by displaying a better persona than the “real” one, it is long since gone, wiped out from the relentless force of natural selection.”
Giannis Delimitsos, A PHILOSOPHICAL KALEIDOSCOPE: Thoughts, Contemplations, Aphorisms

David Attenborough
“When assessing family connections, the anatomy of a larva is obviously as valid a piece of evidence as that of an adult. Indeed, it is usually even more significant, for animals have the remarkable tendency to repeat during their individual development the stages through which their ancestors passed during evolutionary history.”
David Attenborough, Life on Earth

Abhijit Naskar
“In nature nothing is hardwired, everything is livewired, everything is evolvable.”
Abhijit Naskar, Find A Cause Outside Yourself: Sermon of Sustainability

Arik Kershenbaum
“One of the most fundamental rules of natural selection, on Earth and across the universe, is that there is always a cost-benefit trade-off. Improving your abilities in one field must reduce your capabilities in another.”
Arik Kershenbaum, The Zoologist's Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal about Aliens – and Ourselves

Abhijit Naskar
“Sapient Selection (The Sonnet)

Some people engineer machines,
I engineer human evolution.
How can we engineer evolution,
Simply by taking accountable action.
This is what I call sapient selection,
When humans choose the path they take.
Sure, nature still has a huge hold over us but,
We have the neurons to override her influence.
It is extremely difficult to conquer nature,
But the important thing is, it is not impossible.
With enough resolve, honor and conscience,
Anybody can tame their inner animal.
Monkeys that walk upright are still monkeys.
Sapiens with hate are but good-looking chimpanzees.”
Abhijit Naskar, Corazon Calamidad: Obedient to None, Oppressive to None

“from a scientific point of view, there’s no goal for evolution, so there can be no 'failure' of selection.”
Abigail Mann

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