Natural Selection Quotes

Quotes tagged as "natural-selection" Showing 1-30 of 130
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H.G. Wells
“For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things—taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many—those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance—our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.”
H. G. Wells, The War Of The Worlds

Amy  Stewart
“Sometimes I wonder if it is too much of an imposition on earthworms to push them into polluted ground, or to force-feed them a particular bacteria because we'd like to see it spread around. Darwin noticed that humans tend to exploit any characteristic for their own good, writing that "in the process of selection man almost invariably wishes to go to an extreme point." Are we taking advantage of earthworms? Shouldn't we clean up our own messes, or learn not to make them in the first place?”
Amy Stewart, The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

Alex M. Vikoulov
“In my life as a human, I see clues that evolution on Earth and elsewhere in the cosmos at large is not being pushed from behind in entropic randomness but being pulled forward by complexification, natural selection and other evolutionary forces orchestrated by a strange unseen teleological attractor, in McKenna’s words the 'Transcendental Object' at the end of time. The Noosphere is the collective consciousness of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which we all are immersed, it’s a cognitive layer of the planet, which has found a physical expression in the form of today’s Internet. As the Noosphere gains more coherence, typical of a biological brain, this process of “planet cognification” accelerates.”
Alex M. Vikoulov, The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and the Omega Point Cosmology

Alex M. Vikoulov
“In my life as a human, I see clues that evolution on Earth and elsewhere in the cosmos at large is not being pushed from behind in entropic randomness but being pulled forward by complexification, natural selection and other evolutionary forces orchestrated by a strange unseen teleological attractor, in McKenna’s words the 'Transcendental Object' at the end of time. The Noosphere is the collective consciousness of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which we all are immersed, it’s a cognitive layer of the planet, which has found a physical expression in the form of today’s Internet. As the Noosphere gains more coherence, typical of a biological brain, this process of 'planet cognification' accelerates.”
Alex M. Vikoulov, The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and the Omega Point Cosmology

enlatia
“-...Why do you uglify yourself? You are beautiful too.”

-I could be more beautiful, but I fell victim to natural selection.”
enlatia, Pandemiconium: Viral Conspiracy

Bill Nye
“In our evolutionary world, good enough is as good as it gets. There is no reason for nature to work any other way. There is no evolutionary pressure to produce designs that are better than they need to be.”
Bill Nye, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation

“Darwinism is the most primitive version of evolution
you can get, and doesn’t make any formal sense since it mixes indeterminism (random mutation) and determinism (natural selection). A truly randomist system could never give rise to natural selection in the first place. Nothing would ever be selected according to any teleological criteria. Things would be selected at random, leading to no progress and no evolution at all! If you believe in random genetic mutation, why don’t you also believe in random natural selection? How on earth does a process come into existence out of nothing that looks exactly like teleological breeding?”
Mike Hockney, The Sam Harris Delusion

Vladimir Nabokov
“Natural selection,” in the Darwinian sense, could not explain the miraculous coincidence of imitative aspect and imitative behavior, nor could one appeal to the theory of “the struggle for life” when a protective device was carried to a point of mimetic subtlety, exuberance, and luxury far in excess of a predator’s power of appreciation. I discovered in nature the nonutilitarian delights that I sought in art. Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception.”
Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

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