Evolution



Q. Do all scientists accept evolution?

Ans. "The facts of evolution are clear and are not disputed by any serious scientific worker. The universe is over 11 billion years old, and the earth, in particular, is over 4 billion. That is a fact. Life on earth is at least 2.5 billion years old, and, as new evidence accumulates, the best estimate of the origin of life gets pushed further and further into the past. That too is fact. It is also a fact that there were no mammals or birds 200 million years ago and no vertebrates 600 million years ago, while there are no dinosaurs now. Finally, it is a fact that under con- ditions that have existed on earth for the last billion years, at least, all living organisms arise from previously living organisms. So, the present complex living forms have evolved by an unbroken and continuous process from the simplest living forms of the pre-Cambrian era. To as- sert, on the contrary, that the earth and life on it are a paltry ten or hundred thousand years old and that the complex forms living today arose in an instant from unorganized matter is in contradiction not simply with the corpus of biological knowledge but with all scientific knowl- edge of the physical world. To deny evolution is to deny physics, chemistry, and astronomy, as well as biology."

--Richard C. Lewontin, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University (as quoted by Godfrey, L., 1983, SCIENTISTS CONFRONT CREATIONISM, W.W. Norton & Co., NY. pp. xxiii-xxxiv)



"The business of proving evolution has reached a stage when it is futile for biologists to work merely to discover more and more evidence of evolution. Those who choose to believe that God created every biolog- ical species separately in the state we observe them but made them in a way calculated to lead us to the conclusion that they are the products of an evolutionary development are obviously not open to argument. All that can be said is that their belief is an implicit blasphemy, for it imputes to God appalling deviousness."

-- Theodosius Dobzhansky (1962, as quoted by Futuyma, SCIENCE ON TRIAL, Pantheon Books, NY. p. 68)



"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

-- T.Dobzhansky (Title of his essay in AMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER 35, 125 (1973)



"One of the most frequently reiterated false claims among the collection of canards to which creationists are addicted, is that the geological record shows few if any transitional fossil forms, and that this consti- tutes the best evidence for special creation. This is quite untrue. There is a wealth of evidence of such transitional forms from the geo- logical record...perhaps the most spectacular of which is represented by our own genus Homo and its immediate forerunners, the fossil manlike forms of East and South Africa and Ethiopia, the australopithecines. There are transitional forms among the australopithecines themselves, as well as between them and humans, and among the latter from Homo erectus ...through Neandertal man, and from Neandertal man to forms very like ourselves such as those from Tabun and Skhul in Israel, to contemporary man..."

-- Ashley Montague, Princeton physical anthropologist (Introduction to SCIENCE AND CREATIONISM, Oxford University Press, NY, 1984. p. 11)



"The creationists repeatedly assert that evolution is a theory, and, indeed, not a scientific theory at all because it is unable to predict future developments. Both statements are untrue. Evolution [phenomenon] is a fact, not theory. It once was a theory but today, as a consequence of observation and testing it is probably the best authenticated actu- ality known to science. There are theories concerning the mechanisms of evolution but no competent student doubts the reality of evolution."

-- Ashley Montague, Princeton physical anthropologist (Introduction to SCIENCE AND CREATIONISM, Oxford University Press, NY, 1984. p. 13)



"The theory of evolution is quite rightly called the greatest unifying theory in biology. The diversity of organisms, similarities and differ- ences between kinds of organisms, patterns of distribution and behavior, adaptation and interaction, all this was merely a bewildering chaos of facts until given meaning by the evolutionary theory."

-- Ernst Mayer, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology (as quoted by P. Kitcher, ABUSING SCIENCE, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1983. p. 54)



"If we want to emphasize the fact that what scientists believe today may have to be revised in the light of observations made tomorrow, then we can describe all our science as "theory." But the description should not confuse us. To concede that evolutionary biology is a theory is not to suppose that there are alternatives to it that are equally worthy of a place in our curriculum. All theories are revisable, but not all theories are equal. Even though our present evidence does not prove that evolutionary biology -- or quantum physics, or plate tectonics or any other theory -- is true, evolutionary biologists will maintain that the present evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of their theory and overwhelmingly against its supposed rivals. Their enthusiastic asser- tion that evolution is a proven fact can be charitably understood as claims that the (admittedly inconclusive) evidence we have for evolu- tionary theory is as good as we ever obtain for any theory in any field of science."

-- Philip Kitcher, philosopher of science, U. Vermont (1982. ABUSING SCIENCE - THE CASE AGAINST CREATIONISM. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. p. 213)



"...[Evolution theory] is the only scientific theory which explains the hierarchy of resemblance among all living things. It is theoretically possible that it is wrong (else it could not be a scien- tific statement). It is, however, constantly being verified by scien- tists predicting distributions of characteristics, then checking their organisms, and verifying the predictions. Scientists disagree to some extent about how the process works and about what the more important evolutionary factors might be. This is normal science. Creationism does none of this. It gives us no testable, verifiable predictions about the nature of the organic world, and its objection to evolution as nonscience is not correct."

-- Niles Eldredge, paleontologist and curator at the American Museum of Natural History (1981. "Do Gaps in the Fossil Record Disprove Descent with Modifi- cation?" CREATION/EVOLUTION IV, p. 19.)



"In North America, at least, scientific creationists who have technical training are quite frequently engineers. The non-engineers who have been taught some of the things that scientists have found out, or who have themselves, on occasion, played the game of science, are usually knowledgeable only in one of the non-biological and "non-historical" sciences. Very few have had their primary technical training in biol- ogy, and I know of none who have actually conducted "hands-on" scien- tific studies of specimens in the fields of plant and animal classifi- cation, biogeography, or paleontology. Without exception, every single paleontologist, taxonomist, ecologist, biogeographer, comparative anato- mist, botanist, mammalogist, ornithologist, herpetologist, ichthyolo- gist, entomologist, and other invertebrate zoologist that I have ever met (and I have met and talked to hundreds, if not thousands) has been utterly convinced that the scientific evidence supports unequivocally and overwhelmingly, an old earth, and old universe, and evolution."

-- Ronald Pine, zoologist, Chicago Field Museum of Natural History (1984, CREATION/EVOLUTION XIV, p. 14.)



"Of course, even this mountain of new data will not prove the theory of evolution. One can never prove a theory in science; one can only demon- strate that it has not yet been disproven. But there comes a level of support at which the common sense of any unprejudiced observer leads to an acceptance of the theory as being beyond reasonable doubt. The the- ory of evolution in biology and the atomic theory in physics rest on equally secure data, and we understand considerably more about either of them than we do about the theory of gravitation. In the face of all this evidence, one must reply to those few today who would emulate Bishop Samuel Wilberforce with neither his wit nor his learning: Either evolu- tion is fact, and is the way in which life diversified on our planet (and this can be regarded as either a nontheistic or a theistic process) or else the universe is inherently illogical and we are all the victims of a cosmic joke. Any other conclusion is logically untenable."

-- Biochemists Dickerson and Geis (1984. HEMOGLOBIN: STRUCTURE, FUNCTION, EVOLUTION, AND PATHOLOGY. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co., Menlo Park, CA. p. 109)



"The great age of the earth is a FACT. The drift of continents is a FACT. It is a FACT that the earth has supported different species at different times. It is a FACT that species are related to each other by descent. It is a FACT that beneficial mutations alter species in every imaginable way. It is a FACT that the environment selects some genetic variations for survival and others for extinction. It is a THEORY that the processes of mutation, recombination, genetic drift, natural selec- tion and isolation can account for the historical products of evolution, but it is a FACT that EVOLUTION HAS OCCURRED. That is the message of the hundred years of biology, geology, physics, and chemistry that have elapsed since Darwin's death."

-- Douglas Futuyma, SUNY professor of ecology (1983, SCIENCE ON TRIAL, Pantheon Books, New York. p. 207. Emphasis added.)





Return to Question and Answers