List of fallacious creationist quotes
|The divine comedy|
Many creationists quote the statements of others to lend a veneer of authority to their own work. This is a legitimate strategy, if used correctly. Unfortunately, creationists often quote-mine scientists, misrepresent the authority of a source, or quote vastly outdated texts, which create fallacious appeals to authority.
Many of the quotes come from the Watchtower publication Life — How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?, hereafter Life, and from the Watchtower publication Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?, hereafter Creator.
|Quotemined text:||Original text:|
David Attenborough (1926-)
Life on Earth
Attenborough, David (1979). Life on Earth. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.
Fallacy: Quote mining
Life cites bird migration as evidence that evolution cannot explain instinct and quotes Attenborough:
|Life: Rich food sources are available at both polar regions, so one scientist raises the question: "How did they ever discover that such sources existed so far apart?" Evolution has no answer. (p. 161)||Attenborough: The energy spent by such migrants in their vast journeys is gigantic, but the advantages are clear. At each end of their routes they can tap a rich food supply that exists for only half the year. But how did they ever discover that such sources existed so far apart? The answer seems to be that their journeys were not always so long. It was the warming of the world at the end of the Ice Age eleven thousand years ago that began to stretch them. [...] So each year, birds were able to find food by flying farther and farther until their annual journeys involved travelling thousands of miles. (p. 184)|
Contrary to the conclusion of Life, Attenborough does in fact have an answer to the question. Note also that Attenborough does not present the question as a criticism of evolution. This sort of thing should form a familiar pattern in the quotes below.
Disqualifying lungfish and coelacanths
Fallacy: Quote mining
In an attempt to demonstrate that there are no intermediates between fish and amphibians, Life quotes Attenborough:
|Life: David Attenborough disqualifies both the lungfish and the coelacanth "because the bones of their skulls are so different from those of the first fossil amphibians that the one cannot be derived from the other." (p. 73)||Attenborough:
But neither fish can be regarded as the one whose descendents eventually colonised the land permanently. Both are disqualified because the bones of their skulls are so different from those of the first fossil amphibians that the one cannot be derived from the other.
However, there is a third fish found in the deposits of that early and critical period. It belongs to the same broad group as the coelacanths and the lungfish. It has leg-like fins with fleshy bases like the coelacanth; it seems very likely that it had air-breathing pouches from its gut like a lungfish. Its skull, however, has the crucial feature which neither the coelacanth nor the lungfish possess--a passage linking its nostrils with the roof of its mouth. All land vertebrates have this feature and it is this which confirms that this fish is indeed very close to the ancestral line.This creature is called Eusthenopteron. Its fossils have been investigated by cutting them into thin slices, a technique that has revealed a great deal about its anatomy, even down to the details of the structure of its blood vessels. When the fins of fossil specimens are carefully dissected, the lobes at the base are found to be supported by one stout bone close to the body, two bones joined to it and finally a group of small bones and digits--the pattern that is found in the limbs of all land vertebrates. (p. 137)
Life would love for you not to notice that other fish that was an ancestor to amphibians.
Darwinism on the verge of collapse
In support of the claim that scientists doubt evolution, Life states:
Harper's magazine, writer Tom Bethell commented: "Darwin made a mistake sufficiently serious to undermine his theory. And that mistake has only recently been recognized as such. ... One organism may indeed be 'fitter' than another ... This, of course, is not something which helps create the organism, ... It is clear, I think, that there was something very, very wrong with such an idea." Bethell added: "As I see it the conclusion is pretty staggering: Darwin's theory, I believe, is on the verge of collapse." (p. 23)
Harper's is a general-interest magazine. Bethell is a journalist reporting on fringe science and also a global warming denialist, AIDS denialist, and intelligent design advocate, and his ideas do not represent the scientific consensus.
Loius Bounoure (1926-)
The Advocate, Thursday 8 March 1984, p. 17.
Evolution is a fairy tale
Fallacy: Quote mining
“”"Evolutionism is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless."
|—Prof. Louis Bounoure, introduced as "Former President of the Biological Society of Strasbourg and Director of the Strasbourg Zoological Museum, later Director of Research at the French National Centre of Scientific Research"|
It has also been previously covered, in great depth, by Talk.Origins. For a start, the first sentence wasn't by Bounoure at all, but by someone else altogether.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Early theories of human evolution
After posing the question of whether it was the fossil evidence that encouraged Darwin to formulate his theory "that humans evolved from apelike creatures," Life presents:
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists informs us: "The early theories of human evolution are really very odd, if one stops to look at them. David Pilbeam has described the early theories as 'fossil-free.' That is, here were theories about human evolution that one would think would require some fossil evidence, but in fact there were either so few fossils that they exerted no influence on the theory, or there were no fossils at all. So between man's supposed closest relatives and the early human fossils, there was only the imagination of nineteenth century scientists." This scientific publication shows why: "People wanted to believe in evolution, human evolution, and this affected the results of their work." (p. 85)
In reality Darwin's only comment on human evolution was his prediction, "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." Since Darwin did not articulate his ideas on human evolution, the quote is not a criticism of such a theory.
Finally, the relevance of the quote, regardless of its truth or falsity, is outdated. The modern synthesis of evolution and modern theories of common descent are supported by fossil records as well as numerous other pathways.
"The Editor's Page"
Calbreath, Donald. "The Editor's Page". American Laboratory.
American Laboratory on the teaching of evolution
On the teaching of evolution Life states:
In the magazine American Laboratory a doctor wrote this about his children’s schooling: "The child is not presented with evolution as a theory. Subtle statements are made in science texts as early as the second grade (based on my reading of my children’s textbooks). Evolution is presented as reality, not as a concept that can be questioned. The authority of the educational system then compels belief." Regarding evolutionary teaching in higher grades, he said: "A student is not permitted to hold personal beliefs or to state them: if the student does so, he or she is subjected to ridicule and criticism by the instructor. Often the student risks academic loss because his or her views are not 'correct' and the grade is lowered." (p. 179)
The source for this quote is by Calbreath, a signatory of the Discovery Institute's anti-evolution statement. The quote is contrary to statements made by the National Center for Science Education and other scientific organizations.
Fossil record disagrees with evolution
Fallacy: biased authority
Concluding a chapter titled "Letting the Fossil Record Speak," Life states:
...fossil evidence does lend strong weight to the arguments for creation. As zoologist Coffin stated: "To secular scientists, the fossils, evidences of the life of the past, constitute the ultimate and final court of appeal, because the fossil record is the only authentic history of life available to science. If this fossil history does not agree with evolutionary theory -- and we have seen that it does not -- what does it teach? It tells us that plants and animals were created in their basic forms. The basic facts of the fossil record support creation, not evolution." (p. 70)
The source for the quote is identified as Liberty magazine, a Seventh-day Adventist Church publication. Harold Coffin was a researcher for the Geoscience Research Institute and a witness for the defense in the State of Arkansas' bid to allow the teaching of creation science in school.  His ideas do not represent the scientific consensus.
Life again quotes Coffin to support its claim that Cambrian organisms lacked ancestors:
If progressive evolution from simple to complex is correct, the ancestors of these full-blown living creatures in the Cambrian should be found; but they have not been found and scientists admit there is little prospect of their ever being found. On the basis of the facts alone, on the basis of what is actually found in the earth, the theory of a sudden creative act in which the major forms of life were established fits best. (p. 62)
Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882)
Origin of Species
The eye and natural selection
See the main article.
The fossil record and transitional forms
So that the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great. But assuredly, if this theory be true, such have lived upon the earth.
|Darwin: "By the theory of natural selection all living species have been connected with the parent-species of each genus, by differences not greater than we see between the natural and domestic varieties of the same species at the present day; and these parent-species, now generally extinct, have in their turn been similarly connected with more ancient forms; and so on backwards, always converging to the common ancestor of each great class. So that the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great. But assuredly, if this theory be true, such have lived upon the earth. ON THE LAPSE OF TIME, AS INFERRED FROM THE RATE OF DEPOSITION AND EXTENT OF DENUDATION. Independently of our not finding fossil remains of such infinitely numerous connecting links, it may be objected that time cannot have sufficed for so great an amount of organic change, all changes having been effected slowly. It is hardly possible for me to recall to the reader who is not a practical geologist, the facts leading the mind feebly to comprehend the lapse of time. He who can read Sir Charles Lyell's grand work on the Principles of Geology, which the future historian will recognise as having produced a revolution in natural science, and yet does not admit how vast have been the past periods of time, may at once close this volume. Not that it suffices to study the Principles of Geology, or to read special treatises by different observers on separate formations, and to mark how each author attempts to give an inadequate idea of the duration of each formation, or even of each stratum. We can best gain some idea of past time by knowing the agencies at work; and learning how deeply the surface of the land has been denuded, and how much sediment has been deposited. As Lyell has well remarked, the extent and thickness of our sedimentary formations are the result and the measure of the denudation which the earth's crust has elsewhere undergone. Therefore a man should examine for himself the great piles of superimposed strata, and watch the rivulets bringing down mud, and the waves wearing away the sea-cliffs, in order to comprehend something about the duration of past time, the monuments of which we see all around us." (Chapter 6)|
Existence of the creator
To support its claim that the cause of life's origin has yet to be determined, Life quotes Darwin:
|Life: "It is interesting to note, too, that even evolution's best-known advocate, Charles Darwin, indicated an awareness of his theory's limitations. In his conclusion to The Origin of Species, he wrote of the grandeur of the "view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one," thus making it evident that the subject of origins was open to further examination." (p. 9)||Darwin: "It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved." (Chapter 15)|
In this context it is obvious that Darwin is not concerned about the origin of life but is speaking of the subsequent evolution of life. This is not mentioned by Life.
Instinct can't evolve
To further support their claim that evolution cannot explain instinct, Life quotes Darwin yet again:
"Many instincts are so wonderful that their development will probably appear to the reader a difficulty sufficient to overthrow my whole theory," Darwin wrote. He evidently felt that instinct was an unanswerable difficulty, for his next sentence was: "I may here premise that I have nothing to do with the origin of the mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself."Scientists today are no closer to explaining instinct than Darwin was. (p. 160)
|Darwin: Many instincts are so wonderful that their development will probably appear to the reader a difficulty sufficient to overthrow my whole theory. I may here premise that I have nothing to do with the origin of the mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself. We are concerned only with the diversities of instinct and of the other mental faculties in animals of the same class. [....] Therefore, there is no real difficulty, under changing conditions of life, in natural selection accumulating to any extent slight modifications of instinct which are in any way useful. In many cases habit or use and disuse have probably come into play. I do not pretend that the facts given in this chapter strengthen in any great degree my theory; but none of the cases of difficulty, to the best of my judgment, annihilate it. On the other hand, the fact that instincts are not always absolutely perfect and are liable to mistakes; that no instinct can be shown to have been produced for the good of other animals, though animals take advantage of the instincts of others; that the canon in natural history, of "Natura non facit saltum," is applicable to instincts as well as to corporeal structure, and is plainly explicable on the foregoing views, but is otherwise inexplicable—all tend to corroborate the theory of natural selection." (Chapter 8)|
In other words, Darwin didn't care who made the first or life or the first instinct; he set out to explain the evolution of those things (i.e., how they developed after they came into existence).
Richard Dawkins, biologist.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, 18 April 2008.
Signature of a designer
Fallacy: straw man
I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.
The fuller context is as follows:
BEN STEIN: What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution.
RICHARD DAWKINS: Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.
BEN STEIN [voice over]: Wait a second. Richard Dawkins thought intelligent design might be a legitimate pursuit? RICHARD DAWKINS: Um, and that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe. But that higher intelligence would itself would have to come about by some explicable or ultimately explicable process. It couldn't have just jumped into existence spontaneously. That's the point. BEN STEIN [voice over]: So professor Dawkins was not against intelligent design, just certain types of designers. Such as God.
Yes, even the world's most famous evolutionist and atheist, caught off guard by a well-worded question, admits living things may bear the evidence of design.
Dawkins is not saying that the panspermia theory is true or that life shows evidence of design by non-Darwinian forces. (Almost every single one of the books he has published seeks to prove that evolution itself can make things appear to have design.) Instead, he is saying that, if there was evidence of intelligent design, then he would consider the panspermia theory to be more likely than creationism.
Scientific American, September 1978, p. 75.
Fallacy: quote mining
In a section that attempts to demonstrate the unlikelihood that the genetic code could have arisen by chance, Life presents:
Chemist Dickerson also made this interesting comment: "The evolution of the genetic machinery is the step for which there are no laboratory models; hence one can speculate endlessly, unfettered by inconvenient facts." But is it good scientific procedure to brush aside the avalanches of "inconvenient facts" so easily? (p. 46)
In this context, the quote is made to appear as if it were suggesting that evidence previously presented against abiogenesis should be ignored. However, examination of the quote itself indicates that Richard Dickerson does not believe the facts exist, and therefore they cannot be considered.
Horseshoe crab virtually unchanged
Fallacy: non sequitur
To support its claim that the ancestors of extant organisms "were much like their living counterparts," Life quotes Discover magazine:
The horseshoe crab ... has existed on earth virtually unchanged for 200 million years. (p. 64)
Note that "virtually" unchanged does not mean the same as completely and absolutely unchanged. Further, the theory of evolution predicts that organisms can change but not that they must. This quote is not actually a criticism of evolution.
Heredity and the Nature of Man
Dobzhansky, Theodosius (1964). Heredity and the Nature of Man. Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, Inc. New York, New York.
Poking a stick into one's radio set
To support its claim that mutations cannot be beneficial, Life quotes Theodosius Dobzhansky from Heredity and the Nature of Man:
|Life: Geneticist Dobzhansky once said: "An accident, a random change, in any delicate mechanism can hardly be expected to improve it. Poking a stick into the machinery of one's watch or one's radio set will seldom make it work better." Thus, ask yourself: Does it seem reasonable that all the amazingly complex cells, organs, limbs and processes that exist in living things were built up by a procedure that tears down? (p. 102)||Dobzhansky:
Indeed, the genetic machinery of a living species, its genotype, is exquisitely adjusted to the environment in which this species lives. An accident, a random change, in any delicate mechanism can hardly be expected to improve it. Poking a stick into the machinery of one's watch or one's radio set will seldom make it work better.
And yet mutations can also lead to evolutionary improvements. How is this possible? [...]If the environment changes, some genes that were favorable in the old environments may become unfavorable, and others may become favorable. (p. 126-127)
Contrary to the implication of Life, then, Dobzhansky does believe that mutations can be beneficial, and he explains the circumstances under which this can happen.
du Noüy, Pierre Lecomte
du Noüy, Pierre. Human Destiny. 1947.
Warm-blooded birds from cold-blooded dinosaurs
Fallacy: outdated authority
Lecomte du Nouy, the French evolutionist, said concerning the belief that warm-blooded birds came from cold-blooded reptiles: "This stands out today as one of the greatest puzzles of evolution." He also made the admission that birds have "all the unsatisfactory characteristics of absolute creation" - unsatisfactory, that is, to the theory of evolution.
The source for this quote is biophysicist du Noüy's Human Destiny, 1947. However, the idea that dinosaurs were warm-blooded has been seriously considered since at least 1968, making the quote outdated even at the printing of Life in 1985.
The Secret of Life
Mythology of science
To support its claim that the theory of abiogenesis cannot be considered a fact, Life quotes anthropologist Loren Eiesely:
|Life: How have scientists come to accept in their own minds this apparent violation of the scientific method? The well-known evolutionist Loren Eiseley conceded: "After having chided the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create a mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what, after long effort, could not be proved to take place today had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past." (p. 51)||Eiseley:
With the failure of these many efforts science was left in the somewhat embarrassing position of having to postulate theories of living origins which it could not demonstrate. After having chided the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create a mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what, after long effort, could not be proved to take place today had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past.My use of the term mythology is perhaps a little harsh. I would not be understood to speak ill of scientific effort.... It is only that somewhere among these seeds and beetle shells and abandoned grasshopper legs I find something that is not accounted for very clearly in the dissections to the ultimate virus or crystal or protein particle. Even if the secret is contained in these things, in other words, I do not think it will yield to the kind of analysis our science is capable of making.
Eiseley appears to be saying not that origin of life theories are unscientific but rather that life will not be explained by inspecting living things with our current level of technology.
Quoted in Rensberger's article
Pattern in the fossil record
To further support the claim that the fossil record does not support evolution, Life notes:
|Life: Niles Eldredge also admitted: "The pattern that we were told to find for the last 120 years does not exist." (p. 21)||Edlredge, later in the article: As they see it, species remain largely stable for long periods and then suddenly change dramatically. The transition happens so fast, they suggest, that the chance of intermediate forms being fossilized and found is nil. (p. C3)|
Despite the implication by Life, the article explains that Eldredge (and Gould) did in fact see a pattern left in the fossil record:
Homo erectus limb bones
Fallacies: outdated authority
To reference the claim that Homo erectus is identical to Homo sapiens, Life cites the 1976 Encyclopædia Britannica:
the limb bones thus far discovered have been indistinguishable from those of H[omo] sapiens. (p. 95)
Note that Life does not mention known differences between the species, primarily that Homo erectus was more robust than Homo sapiens. It has been suggested that the reason Life did not instead quote the 1984 Encyclopedia Britannica was that that edition no longer supports the claim that the species are identical. That edition states in place of the quoted passage that:
the limb bones thus far discovered have been similar to (although more robust than) those of H. sapiens.
Regardless of any intent to deceive, the updated information makes the quote outdated.
"A scientific journal" on radioactive decay
To support its claim that "some scientists" doubt radioactive dating methods, Life reports:
A scientific journal reported on studies showing that "dates determined by radioactive decay may be off -- not only by a few years, but by orders of magnitude." It said: "Man, instead of having walked the earth for 3.6 million years, may have been around for only a few thousand." (p. 96)
The "scientific journal" quoted is in fact Popular Science, and the ideas expressed were not even those of the author but of one Robert Gentry. In the original context the beginning of the first sentence, which was left off, reads, "Physicist Gentry believes that all of the dates...." Gentry is a Seventh-day Adventist and a young Earth creationist; his ideas do not represent the scientific consensus.
"The Tortoise or the Hare?"
James Gorman, "The Tortoise or the Hare?," Discover, p. 88, October, 1980.
Evolution questioned by scientists
Fallacy: (egregious) quotemining
To support its claim that scientists doubt evolution, Life quotes journalist James Gorman's "The Tortoise or the Hare?":
|Life: The scientific magazine Discover put the situation this way: "Evolution... is not only under attack by fundamentalist Christians, but is also being questioned by reputable scientists. Among paleontologists, scientists who study the fossil record, there is growing dissent." (p. 15)||Gorman: Charles Darwin's brilliant theory of evolution, published in 1859, had a stunning impact on scientific and religious thought and forever changed man's perception of himself. Now that hallowed theory is not only under attack by fundamentalist Christians, but is also being questioned by reputable scientists. Among paleontologists, scientists who study the fossil record, there is growing dissent from the prevailing view of Darwinism. [....] Most of the debate will center on one key question: Does the three-billion-year-old process of evolution creep at a steady pace, or is it marked by long periods of inactivity punctuated by short bursts of rapid change? Is Evolution a tortoise or a hare? Darwin's widely accepted view -- that evolution proceeds steadily, at a crawl -- favors the tortoise. But two paleontologists, Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History and Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard, are putting their bets on the hare.|
Again Life makes disagreement about the speed of evolution appear as if it were doubt about the historical fact of evolution.
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)
See also Talk Origins' page on the Quote Mine Project for Gould, Eldredge, and Punctuated Equilibria.
A View of Life
"Evolution as Fact and Theory"
Discover, May 1981.
Change spread at random
|Life: Stephen Gould reports that many contemporary evolutionists now say that substantial change "may not be subject to natural selection and may spread through populations at random." (p.142)||Gould:
Thus Darwin acknowledged the provisional nature of natural selection while affirming the fact of evolution. The fruitful theoretical debate that Darwin initiated has never ceased. From the 1940s through the 1960s, Darwin's own theory of natural selection did achieve a temporary hegemony that it never enjoyed in his lifetime. But renewed debate characterizes our decade, and, while no biologist questions the importance of natural selection, many doubt its ubiquity. In particular, many evolutionists argue that substantial amounts of genetic change may not be subject to natural selection and may spread through the populations at random. Others are challenging Darwin's linking of natural selection with gradual, imperceptible change through all intermediary degrees; they are arguing that most evolutionary events may occur far more rapidly than Darwin envisioned.Scientists regard debates on fundamental issues of theory as a sign of intellectual health and a source of excitement. Science is—and how else can I say it?—most fun when it plays with interesting ideas, examines their implications, and recognizes that old information might be explained in surprisingly new ways. Evolutionary theory is now enjoying this uncommon vigor. Yet amidst all this turmoil no biologist has been lead to doubt the fact that evolution occurred; we are debating how it happened. We are all trying to explain the same thing: the tree of evolutionary descent linking all organisms by ties of genealogy. Creationists pervert and caricature this debate by conveniently neglecting the common conviction that underlies it, and by falsely suggesting that evolutionists now doubt the very phenomenon we are struggling to understand.
"The Return of Hopeful Monsters"
Stephen J. Gould, "The Return of Hopeful Monsters", Natural History 86:22 (1977).
Evidence of evolutionary change
Creationists often incorrectly quote Gould as saying that there is little or no evidence of evolutionary change in the fossil record with the following:
|Institute for Creation Research et al.: The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change...||Gould: Many evolutionists view strict continuity between micro- and macroevolution as an essential ingredient of Darwinism and a necessary corollary of natural selection. Yet, as I argue in essay 17, Thomas Henry Huxley divided the two issues of natural selection and gradualism and warned Darwin that his strict and unwarranted adherence to gradualism might undermine his entire system. The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change, and the principle of natural selection does not require it -- selection can operate rapidly. Yet the unnecessary link that Darwin forged became a central tenet of the synthetic theory.|
The Mismeasure of Man
Gould, Stephen. The Mismeasure of Man
No change in human brain size
To support its assertion that man appeared suddenly in the fossil record, Life presents:
Modern-type humans, with the capacity to reason, plan, invent, build on previous knowledge and use complex languages, appear suddenly in the fossil record. Gould, in his book The Mismeasure of Man, notes: "We have no evidence for biological change in brain size or structure since Homo sapiens appeared in the fossil record some fifty thousand years ago." (p. 86)
Note that the quote does not in fact support the claim that man appeared suddenly in the fossil record. Additionally, given the short time interval of 50,000 years and that evolution does not predict that organisms must change, the quote is not actually a criticism of evolution. Given Gould's reputation as a supporter of evolution, it does not make sense to suggest that he would make a statement intended to provide evidence against evolution.
No intermediate fossils
In a section titled "Life Appears Suddenly" Life quotes biochemist Gower:
The creation account in Genesis and the theory of evolution could not be reconciled. One must be right and the other wrong. The story of the fossils agreed with the account of Genesis. In the oldest rocks we did not find a series of fossils covering the gradual changes from the most primitive creatures to developed forms, but rather in the oldest rocks, developed species suddenly appeared. Between every species there was a complete absence of intermediate fossils. (p. 62)
David Gower is a self-proclaimed creationist and member of creationist organizations, and his ideas do not represent the scientific consensus.
Ramapithecus cannot have been the first member of the human line. (p. 92)
New Scientist is a popular magazine and not a peer-reviewed journal. The article, Jive Talking, was written by John Gribbin, an astrophysicist as admitted by Life in a subsequent unrelated quote (p. 126). Without doubting his knowledge of astrophysics, it is unclear why Gribbin should be considered an expert on human origins.
The Synthetic Origin of Species
Heribert-Nilsson, Nils. The Synthetic Origin of Species. 1953.
No transitional series
Life quotes Heribert-Nilsson:
It is not even possible to make a caricature of evolution out of the palaeobiological facts. The fossil material is now so complete that...the lack of transitional series cannot be explained as due to the scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled. (p. 59)
Heribert-Nilsson's hypothesis of synthetic speciation has been refuted, his cosmic ice theory has not been well received by the scientific community, and his ideas have been criticized by geneticist G. Ledyard Stebbins and do not represent the scientific consensus.
Francis Hitching (1933-). Television writer and sensationalist author. Hitching is inarguably the most important source for Life. He is not a scientist and cannot be considered an authority on evolution.
The Neck of the Giraffe
Three crucial areas
To stress the shortcomings of evolution, Life quotes Hitching:
|Life: In three crucial areas where [the modern evolution theory] can be tested, it has failed... (p. 23)||Hitching: In three crucial areas where Darwinism can be tested, it has failed...|
Hitching goes on to identify these areas as the fossil record, genes, and mutations. In the original source, however, Hitching states "Darwinism" where Life uses "the modern evolution theory" in brackets. By this replacement Life makes it appear as if Hitching doubts the fact of evolution when actually he only doubts Darwin's explanation for its cause. Instead, Hitching prefers a form of saltationism.
Darwinism in trouble
Fallacies: non-expert authority
To demonstrate that scientists doubt evolution, Life quotes Hitching:
Francis Hitching, an evolutionist and author of the book The Neck of the Giraffe, stated: "For all its acceptance in the scientific world as the great unifying principle of biology, Darwinism, after a century and a quarter, is in a surprising amount of trouble." (p. 15)
Hitching is not a scientist and cannot be considered an authority on evolution. Hitching further does not doubt that evolution is true, but proposes an alternate method of evolution.
Hoyle, Fred; Wickramasinghe, Chandra
Fossil residues mean no foundation of evolutionary theory
"The problem for biology is to reach a simple beginning," say astronomers Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. "Fossil residues of ancient life-forms discovered in the rocks do not reveal a simple beginning.... so the evolutionary theory lacks a proper foundation." (p. 40)
As stated in the quote, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe are astronomers and should not be considered experts on abiogenesis. They are critical of evolution, promoting instead panspermia, and their ideas do not represent the scientific consensus. Besides which, panspermia doesn't replace evolution or abiogenesis, but merely pushes back the question of where life arose—and it's indisputable that wherever life began, it has evolved here on Earth since then. These fellows are quoted many times in Life.
Life quote mines from a piece of legitimate science by a guy who later became better known for palling around with Frederick Seitz and William Nierenberg and supporting the George C. Marshall Institute and climate change denial.[note 1] Not to mention that Jastrow seemed to have been partial to some kind of vague supernatural force being involved in the origins of planetary bodies and life if the snippet of a 1982 interview with Christianity Today cited at Wikipedia is to be taken at face value and is not another quote mine. However, considering that creationists typically come from the branches of Christianity most intent on quote mining their own holy book, this probably shouldn't come as a surprise.
Red Giants and White Dwarfs
Jastrow, Robert (1979). Red Giants and White Dwarfs. Warner Books, Inc. New York, New York.
Blank pages in earth's history
Life begins a section titled "Life Appears Suddenly" with a quote from cosmologist Robert Jastrow:
|Life: In his book Red Giants and White Dwarfs Robert Jastrow states. "Sometime in the first billion years, life appeared on the earth's surface. Slowly, the fossil record indicates, living organisms climbed the ladder from simple to more advanced forms." From this description, one would expect that the fossil record has verified a slow evolution from the first "simple" life forms to complex ones. Yet, the same book says: "The critical first billion years, during which life began, are blank pages in the earth's history." (p. 59)||Jastrow: (in a chapter titled "The Moon: Rosetta Stone of the Planets")
No rocks have ever been found on the earth that are older than 3.7 billion years. We know nothing of what happened on our planet from the time of its formation, 4.6 billion years ago, to the time when these oldest rocks were laid down. The critical first billion years, during which life began, are blank pages in the earth's history.But on the moon there are no oceans and atmosphere to destroy the surface and there is relatively little of the mountain-building activity that rapidly changes the face of the earth. Over large areas, the materials of the moon's surface are as well preserved as if they had been in cold storage. The moon offers the best chance of recapturing the lost record of the earth's past. (p. 97)
Contrary to the implication by Life, Jastrow is not talking about the record of life's origin being wiped out but rather the Earth's geological record. This is evidenced by his solution of looking to the moon, on which life obviously did not develop.
Life heavily quotemines Robert Jastrow in a panel titled "What the Fossil Evidence Says...about the Origin of Living Things":
|Life: The initial steps...are not known;...no trace of them remains. (p. 68)||Jastrow: Thousands of skeletons and fossil remains mark the path by which life climbed upward from its crude beginnings. The initial steps along that path are not known; those first forms must have been fragile, for no trace of them remains. (p. 224)|
In context the quote offers an explanation for why there is no fossil evidence of the origin of life.
The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe
Jastrow, Robert. The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe. 1981. p. 23.
Appearance of many-celled creatures
To support its claim that life appeared suddenly, Life quotes astronomer Robert Jastrow:
The record of the rocks contains very little, other than bacteria and one-celled plants until, about a billion years ago, after some three billion years of invisible progress, a major breakthrough occurred. The first many-celled creatures appeared on earth. (p. 60)
Life indicates that the quote refers to the sudden appearance of living things at "the start of what is called the Cambrian period." However, since the Cambrian period began about 542 million years ago, this leaves unexplained what progress was made since the "billion years ago" that Jastrow mentioned. Additionally, it is difficult to see how "invisible progress" and "very little" besides "bacteria and one-celled plants" can be interpreted as indicating that there was no life at all before this time. The quote fails to support the claim that life appeared suddenly and is not actually a criticism of evolution.
Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind
Johanson, Donald; Edey, Maitland (1981). Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. Simon and Schuster. New York.
Austalopithecines were not men
In its effort to demonstrate that Australopithecus was "simply an 'ape'" Life quotes paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson:
|Life: Austalopithecines...were not men. (p. 94)||Johanson:
Now consider Lucy. She is six times as old as Dubois's ape-man. Six times!
People ask what filled that enormous gap.
Several things did. An earlier type of man, for one. And two or three kinds of australopithecines--a new name, and an extremely important one.Australopithecines were early hominids that were not men. I have already said that one could be a hominid and not be a man. A couple of million years ago, there were types walking about in Africa that were so primitive and had such queer teeth and such small brains that they could not qualify as humans. The big question was: were they ancestors or cousins? Everyone was arguing about that. To make matters worse, there were two or three kinds of them, large and small versions of an erect-walking near-human that was given the genus name Australopithecus. (p. 38)
Johanson obviously believes that, although they were not human, the australopithecines were far from being mere apes, and nobody reading this quote in context could conclude otherwise, unless they had zero clue what the word hominid means.
Tom Kemp. Science writer, New Scientist.
Book review of The New Evolutionary Timetable
Fossil species not connected
To support the claim that there are no examples of transitional species in the fossil record, Life quotes New Scientist magazine:
Unfortunately, the fossil record does not meet this expectation [of showing gradual change], for individual species of fossils are rarely connected to one another by known intermediate forms.... known fossil species do indeed appear not to evolve even over millions of years. (p. 65)
This quote is from science writer Tom Kemp.
Also note the observations that fossil species are "rarely" connected and "appear" not to evolve do not in fact support the claim that these events never occur. As such this quote is not actually a criticism of evolution.
James C. King.
The Biology of Race
King, James. The Biology of Race
What we don't know about prehistoric men
Fallacies: non sequitur
In support of its assertion that "ape-men" did not exist, Life indicates that we have no idea what they looked like and quotes King:
The book The Biology of Race answers: "The flesh and hair on such reconstructions have to be filled in by resorting to the imagination." It adds: "Skin color; the color, form, and distribution of the hair; the form of the features; and the aspect of the face--of these characters we know absolutely nothing for any prehistoric men." (p. 89)
It should be obvious that human precursors' placements in the evolutionary tree are not based on their external features, and therefore this is not actually a criticism of evolution.
E. P. Dutton. New York, 1977.
Descendants of the australopithecines
As further evidence that Australopithecus was not ancestral to humans, Life quotes anthropologist Richard Leakey from Origins. Leakey is referring to "skull 1470," which he believed to be a Homo habilis skull.
|Life: Similarly Richard Leakey called it "unlikely that our direct ancestors are evolutionary descendants of the australopithecines." (p. 94)||Leakey: This remarkable skull confirmed two things. First, that the human ancestral line, Homo, originated much earlier than most people suspected, earlier perhaps by as much as a million years. Second, because the history of Homo goes back that far, it means that these individuals were living at the same time as some of the earliest australopithecines, making it unlikely that our direct ancestors are evolutionary descendants of the australopithecines--cousins, yes, but descendants, no. (p. 86|
The actual quote from Origins, then, indicates the authors' belief that although humans did not evolve directly from Australopithecus, we did evolve from a common ancestor.
It should be noted that since the writing of Origins, skull 1470 has been determined to be a member of the species Homo rudolfensis and to be more recent than original estimates, thus making it more likely that Australopithecus is in fact our ancestor.
Richard Lewontin (29 March 1929-)
Scientific American, September 1978
To further support the design claim, Life quotes evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin:
|Life: Zoologist Richard Lewontin said that organisms "appear to have been carefully and artfully designed." He views them as "the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer." (p. 143)||Lewontin: Life forms are more than simply multiple and diverse, however. Organisms fit remarkably well into the external world in which they live. They have morphologies, physiologies and behaviors that appear to have been carefully and artfully designed to enable each organism to appropriate the world around it for its own life. It was the marvelous fit of organisms to the environment, much more than the great diversity of forms, that was the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer. Darwin realized that if a naturalistic theory of evolution was to be successful, it would have to explain the apparent perfection of organisms and not simply their variation.|
Lewontin then is not explaining his own views, as stated by Life, but rather the outdated views that Darwin had to overcome. It is likely that Life borrowed this quote from sensationalist author J. Francis Hitching, as it is presented similarly in his book:
To quote Richard Lewontin of Harvard again...many organisms "appear to have been carefully and artfully designed." It is, he says, both a challenge to Darwinism and "the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer."
Living things also have properties of organization that clearly transcend the potential of their parts. As Harvard's Richard Lewontin recently summarized it, organisms "...appear to have been carefully and artfully designed." He calls the "perfection of organisms" both a challenge to Darwinism and, on a more positive note, "the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer."
Lewontin was not happy about being misquoted by Impact and had issued a statement to this effect in Creation/Evolution magazine in 1981.
"The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe"
Linde, Andrei. Scientific American. November 1994.
Science cannot explain the origin of the universe
To support the claim that scientists cannot explain the origin of the universe, Creator quotes an article titled "The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe":
Dr. Andrei Linde was more explicit in a Scientific American article: "Explaining this initial singularity -- where and when it all began -- still remains the most intractable problem of modern cosmology."If experts cannot really explain either the origin or the early development of our universe, should we not look elsewhere for an explanation? (p. 16)
|Linde, later in the article: All these problems (and others I have not mentioned) are extremely perplexing. That is why it is encouraging that many of these puzzles can be resolved in the context of the theory of the self-reproducing, inflationary universe.|
Contrary to the implication by Creator, the point of the article is that Linde's theory does in fact help explain the origin of the universe.
Luria, Salvador; Gould, Stephen; Singer, Sam
A View of Life
A View of Life. Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc. Menlo Park, CA, 1981.
Evolution as a fact
To further advance the claim that scientists doubt evolution, Life quotes a college level textbook:
|Life: In similar fashion the book A View of Life, by evolutionists Luria, Gould and Singer, states that "evolution is a fact," and asserts: "We might as well doubt that the earth revolves about the sun, or that hydrogen and oxygen make water." It also declares that evolution is as much a fact as the existence of gravity. But it can be proved experimentally that the earth revolves around the sun, that hydrogen and oxygen make water, and that gravity exists. Evolution cannot be proved experimentally. (p. 181)||A View of Life: Evolution is a fact...the notion that life evolved is about as well established as any fact of science. We might as well doubt that the earth revolves about the sun, or that hydrogen and oxygen make water. How life evolved is another matter. The processes and mechanisms of evolution remain a subject of lively debate. (p. 574)|
It should be noted that contrary to the last sentence, predictions of evolution have been tested. Life is confusing the historical fact of evolution with theories about its causes. In fact gravity and evolution are similar theories in that in both cases the fact of their existence is not doubted although their causes are not completely understood.
Later, in Life:
|Life: Indeed, these same evolutionists admit that "debate rages about theories of evolution." But do debates still rage about the earth revolving around the sun, about hydrogen and oxygen making water, and about the existence of gravity? No. How reasonable is it, then, to say that evolution is as much a fact as these things are? (p. 181-182)||A View of Life:
The apple falls to the ground. That is a fact. Newton's theory of gravitation tries to explain how it happens... Scientists argue endlessly about theories and sometimes change their entire view of how the world works. The apple, however, continues to fall down. Humans evolved from apelike primates. That too is a fact. Darwin's theory of natural selection helps us to interpret this fact... (p. 574)|
It is appropriate and exhilarating that debate rages about theories of evolution. This debate does not imply, however, that evolution itself is a myth and that scientists are reduced to arguing about shadowy guesses called theories. Evolution happened. Theories of evolution try to explain how it happened. (p. 575)
Inability to explain the fossil record
|Life: The book A View of Life, written by three evolutionists, adds: "The fossil record is full of trends that palaeontologists have been unable to explain." What is it that these evolutionary scientists...are "unable to explain"? (p.59)||A View of Life: The fossil record is full of trends that paleontologists have been unable to explain with the standard argument of improved design by sustained natural selection during phyletic evolution... If trends occur by accumulated speciation more often than by phyletic evolution, then there are many reasons why trends occur... (p. 642)|
Contrary to the claim made by Life paleontologists are able to explain trends in the fossil record. It is inconceivable that the authors of Life could have read this paragraph in the original context and misinterpreted its meaning.
No Precambrian fossils
To further support its claim that life appeared suddenly in the Cambrian period, Life presents two explanations for a perceived lack of precursor fossils, following them up with this incomplete quotation:
|Life: "Neither of these arguments has held up," say evolutionists Salvador E. Luria, Stephen Jay Gould and Sam Singer. They add: "Geologists have discovered many unaltered Precambrian sediments, and they contain no fossils of complex organisms." (p. 62)||A View of Life: Neither of these arguments has held up. Geologists have discovered many unaltered Precambrian sediments, and they contain no fossils of complex organisms. Thus, the artifact theory of the Cambrian explosion is no longer popular, and nearly all paleontologists accept rapid diversification as a real event. (p. 651)|
While Life suggests that paleontologists have no explanation for the Cambrian explosion at all, the full quotation clearly contradicts this.
In a section that attempts to demonstrate that the instinct of migration cannot be inherited, Life manages to completely reverse the meaning of a quotation on evolution.
|Life: Scientists know that any such experimental wanderings and learned behaviors are not incorporated into the genetic code and hence are not inherited by the offspring. Migration is admittedly instinctive and "independent of past experience." (p. 161)||A View of Life: Most instinctive behavioral responses probably depend on specific, genetically determined neuronal circuits within the brain, and they are usually independent of past experience. (p. 556)|
Thus the original authors intended that the quote support the claim that instinct is hereditary, which is the opposite of how Life used it.
Also note that the word "usually" was left out of the quote. In fact, in the original context the next sentence is, "But there are many exceptions to this generalization," and the example of the gill withdrawal reflex in the Aplysia snail is cited.
Norman Macbeth. Attorney.
Goldschmidt on mutations
To advance the claim that mutations cannot be the mechanism of evolution, Life states:
In the book Darwin Retried the author relates the following about the respected geneticist, the late Richard Goldschmidt: "After observing mutations in fruit flies for many years, Goldschmidt fell into despair. The changes, he lamented, were so hopelessly micro [small] that if a thousand mutations were combined in one specimen, there would still be no new species." (p. 105)
Note that this is not a quote from Richard Goldschmidt but is merely Macbeth's interpretation of Goldschmidt's work.
Further, Goldschmidt was the leading proponent of the "hopeful monsters" hypothesis, which suggests macro-mutation as the mechanism for evolution. Most scientists have rejected the views of Goldschmidt on evolution.
John N. Moore
Should Evolution Be Taught?
Moore on no transitional forms
To support its claim of the nonexistence of transitional fossils, Life states:
This agrees with the extensive study made by the Geological Society of London and the Palaeontological Association of England. Professor of natural science John N. Moore reported on the results: "Some 120 scientists, all specialists, prepared 30 chapters in a monumental work of over 800 pages to present the fossil record for plants and animals divided into about 2,500 groups. . . . Each major form or kind of plant and animal is shown to have a separate and distinct history from all the other forms or kinds! Groups of both plants and animals appear suddenly in the fossil record. . . . Whales, bats, horses, primates, elephants, hares, squirrels, etc., all are as distinct at their first appearance as they are now. There is not a trace of a common ancestor, much less a link with any reptile, the supposed progenitor." Moore added: "No transitional forms have been found in the fossil record very probably because no transitional forms exist in fossil stage at all. Very likely, transitions between animal kinds and/or transitions between plant kinds have never occurred." (p. 65)
Note that this quote is not a statement made by the mentioned organizations but rather is an interpretation of their findings by Moore. Moore was a founding member of the Creation Research Society. Moore's ideas do not represent the scientific consensus and should not be presented as such.
Evolutionary mutations a myth
Life similarly presents Moore as an expert in a chapter titled "Mutations--A Basis for Evolution?":
The truth is as Professor John Moore declared: "Upon rigorous examination and analysis, any dogmatic assertion...that gene mutations are the raw material for any evolutionary process involving natural selection is an utterance of a myth." (p. 111)
Lack of evidence for evolution
When reviewing a book on evolution, English author Malcolm Muggeridge commented on the lack of evidence for evolution. [....] Then he said: "The Genesis account seems, by comparison, sober enough and at least has the merit of being validly related to what we know about human beings and their behavior." He said that the unfounded claims of millions of years for man’s evolution "and wild leaps from skull to skull, cannot but strike anyone not caught up in the [evolutionary] myth as pure fantasy." Muggeridge concluded: "Posterity will surely be amazed, and I hope vastly amused, that such slipshod and unconvincing theorizing should have so easily captivated twentieth-century minds and been so widely and recklessly applied." (p. 98)
Muggeridge is a journalist and (apparently rather enthusiastic) Christian convert. It is unclear why his opinion within a book review should be considered authoritative in any field of science.
New Scientist magazine.
"Let there be life"
New Scientist. "Let there be life." Jul. 6, 1996.
DNA, RNA, and protein arising simultaneously
To support the claim that life is too complicated to have arisen by chance, Creator quotes New Scientist:
As our body makes new cells, which happens billions of times a day and without our conscious guidance, it requires copies of all three components-DNA, RNA, and protein. You can see why the magazine New Scientist comments: "Take away any one of the three and life grinds to a halt." Or take this a step further. Without a complete and functioning team, life could not have come about.
Is it reasonable that each of those three molecular team players arose spontaneously at the same time, in the same place, and so precisely tuned that they could combine to work their wonders? (p. 47)
Of course Creator conveniently ignores that the article in New Scientist then goes on to present a solution to the problem:
Tom Cech at the University of Colorado and Sydney Altman at Yale University discovered that two naturally occurring RNA molecules sped up a reaction that snipped out regions of their own nucleotide sequence. RNA, it turned out, had some catalytic muscle of its own. The catalytic RNAs became known as ribozymes.
Theoreticians jumped on this discovery, envisaging a long ago world in which RNA ruled the planet. First, by virtue of its ability to act as a template for new RNA molecules, RNA was perfect for storing and passing on information. Second, by virtue of its ability to snap bonds between atoms, RNA was also a catalyst. Most crucial to the theory's credibility, the scientists proposed that RNA once catalysed the creation of fresh RNA molecules from their nucleotide building blocks.
Eventually, the free-wheeling RNA molecules would have acquired membranes and taken on additional catalytic tasks needed to run a primitive cell.
Creator further notes:
Skeptics, observes [author Phil] Cohen, "argue that it was too great a leap from showing that two RNA molecules partook in a bit of self mutilation in a test tube, to claiming that RNA was capable of running a cell single-handed and triggering the emergence of life on Earth." (p. 48)
Szostak and his colleagues took between 100 and 1000 trillion different RNA molecules, each around 200 nucleotides long, and tested their ability to perform one of the simplest catalytic tasks possible: cleaving another RNA molecule. They then carried out the lab equivalent of natural selection. They plucked out the few successful candidates and made millions of copies of them using protein enzymes. Then they mutated those RNAs, tested them again, replicated them again, and so on to "evolve" some ultra-effective new RNA-snipping ribozymes.
RNA world theory fatally flawed
Creator further notes:
There are other problems as well. Biologist Carl Woese holds that "the RNA world theory...is fatally flawed because it fails to explain where the energy came from to fuel the production of the first RNA molecules." (p. 48)
Although it is not mentioned by Creator, the article details a hypothetical biochemical energy "machine":
Günter Wächtershäuser, an organic chemist at the University of Regensberg in Germany has suggested just such a machine. According to his picture, iron and sulphur in the primordial mix combined to form iron pyrites. Short, negatively charged organic molecules then stuck to its positively charged surface and "fed" off the energy liberated as more iron and sulphur reacted, creating longer organic molecules. The negatively charged surfaces of these molecules would attract more positively-charged pyrite, and the cycle would continue.
"Darwinism at the very beginning of life"
New Scientist, volume 94 number 1301, April 1982.
|Life: As evolutionist Leslie Orgel writes: "Modern cell membranes include channels and pumps which specifically control the influx and efflux of nutrients, waste products, metal ions and so on. These specialised channels involve highly specific proteins, molecules that could not have been present at the very beginning of the evolution of life." (p. 44)||Orgel: Modern cell membranes include channels and pumps which specifically control the influx and efflux of nutrients, waste products, metal ions and so on. These specialised channels involve highly specific proteins, molecules that could not have been present at the very beginning of the evolution of life. An impermeable membrane, without specific channels would have been a disadvantage rather than an advantage early in the history of life, because it would've kept useful components of the prebiotic medium outside and beyond the reach of the "cell's" machinery. It seems likely, therefore, that the macromolecular constituents of the earliest forms of biological organisation stayed together by some sort of self-aggregation, perhaps stuck to mineral surfaces, in a form that permitted ready access to nutrients in the "external environment". The development of a continuous membrane probably occurred relatively late, after complex metabolic pathways had evolved. (p. 151)|
Unlike Life, Orgel is merely suggesting that membranes evolved after various metabolic processes.
Karl Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994)
1976 (2002). Routledge: London and New York. ISBN 0-415-28590-9
Falsifiability of natural selection
|Conservapedia: "Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme;"||Popper:
"I intend to argue that the theory of natural selection is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme; and although it is no doubt the best at present available, it can perhaps be slightly improved."
Later in the same book: "And yet, the theory is invaluable. I do not see how, without it, our knowledge could have grown as it has done since Darwin. In trying to explain experiments with bacteria which become adapted to, say, penicillin, it is quite clear that we are greatly helped by the theory of natural selection. Although it is metaphysical, it sheds much light upon very concrete and very practical researches. It allows us to study adaptation to a new environment (such as a penicillin-infested environment) in a rational way: it suggests the existence of a mechanism of adaptation, and it allows us even to study in detail the mechanism at work. And it is the only theory so far which does all that."
In a 1957 publication: "Indeed, the recent vogue of historicism might be regarded as merely part of the vogue of evolutionism—a philosophy that owes its influence largely to the somewhat sensational clash between a brilliant scientific hypothesis concerning the history of the various species of animals and plants on earth, and an older metaphysical theory which, incidentally, happened to be part of an established religious belief. What we call the evolutionary hypothesis is an explanation of a host of biological and paleontological observations—for instance, of certain similarities between various species and genera—by the assumption of common ancestry of related forms. .... I see in modern Darwinism the most successful explanation of the relevant facts."In a 1978 publication: "I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation."
"Sermons in Stones"
Pratt, Wallace. "Sermons in Stones". 1928.
Geology agrees with Genesis
As the sole piece of evidence advancing their claim that the findings of scientists agree with the biblical order of events, Life presents in a panel:
A well-known geologist said this about the Genesis creation account: "If I as a geologist were called upon to explain briefly our modern ideas of the origin of the earth and the development of life on it to a simple, pastoral people, such as the tribes to whom the Book of Genesis was addressed, I could hardly do better than follow rather closely much of the language of the first chapter of Genesis." This geologist, Wallace Pratt, also noted that the order of events--from the origin of the oceans, to the emergence of land, to the appearance of marine life, and then to birds and mammals--is essentially the sequence of the principle divisions of geologic time." (p. 36)
It should first be noted that science does not in fact agree with the order of events in Genesis. In some cases too little is known about the formation of the Earth for science to say, and in some cases science obviously disagrees.
The source of the quote is identified as The Lamp, "The Worlds of Wallace Pratt," 1971, by W. L. Copithorne. In fact Pratt originally made the statement in a piece titled "Sermons in Stones" in 1928, making it one of the oldest quotes in Life and way out of date.
The Lamp goes on to state:
[Pratt] was undisturbed by the way Genesis compresses millions of geologic years into six days, for "Are we not assured, indeed, that with the Creator, 'a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day?'"
It has been suggested that this is evidence Pratt was a six-literal-day creationist. In any event his ideas do not represent the scientific consensus.
"Ancestors: A Family Album"
B. Rensberger, "Ancestors: A Family Album," Science Digest, April 1981.
Artists' conceptions of ape-men
|Life: The vast majority of artists' conceptions are based more on imagination than evidence....Artists must create something between an ape and a human being; the older the specimen is said to be, the more apelike they make it. (p. 89)||Rensberger: (in Life' ellipsis) The vast majority of artists' conceptions are based more on imagination than evidence. But, a handful of expert natural history artists begin with the fossil bones of a hominid and work from there. Such a procedure calls for a detailed understanding of anatomy. Most bones have tiny ridges and grooves called muscle scars, each corresponding to a particular muscle. From these scars good artists can estimate the size of muscles that have long since vanished. (p. 41)|
The article goes on to explain how artists attempt to accurately reconstruct prehistoric hominids and their fat pads and skin, although this is not mentioned by Life. While specific parts of the body (such as the flesh of the nose) are guesswork, they aren't out of the blue. Also note that paleontologists do not base evolutionary relationships on artists' conceptions of hominids; the quote does not provide evidence against evolution.
"Recent Studies Spark Revolution in Interpretation of Evolution"
Boyce Rensberger. "Recent Studies Spark Revolution in Interpretation of Evolution." The New York Times. November 4, 1980. p. C3
Broadest change in evolutionary theory in 50 years
In an effort to demonstrate that there is disagreement among scientists about the fact of evolution, Life quotes an article in The Enterprise, Riverside, California, by Boyce Rensberger, November 14, 1980:
After an important conference of some 150 specialists in evolution held in Chicago, Illinois, a report concluded: "[Evolution] is undergoing its broadest and deepest revolution in nearly 50 years.... Exactly how evolution happened is now a matter of great controversy among biologists. . . . No clear resolution of the controversies was in sight." (p. 15)
The same article apparently ran in The New York Times on November 4, 1980. The first part of the quote should read:
Biology's understanding of how evolution works, which has long postulated a gradual process of Darwinian natural selection acting on genetic mutations, is undergoing its broadest and deepest revolution in nearly 50 years.
The article then does not indicate that the fact of evolution is in doubt, as implied by Life, but rather "how evolution works." In fact, immediately after the third sentence, the article states:
This fact has often been exploited by religious fundamentalists who misunderstood it to suggest weakness in the fact of evolution rather than the perceived mechanism.
This part was not quoted by Life because it did not advance the author's argument.
"Conflicts between Darwin and Paleontology"
Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, January 1979.
Importance of fossils to Darwin's theory
To demonstrate that scientists see the fossil record as evidence against evolution, Life explains:
|If evolution were a fact, surely in all of this there should be ample evidence of one kind of living thing evolving into another kind. But the Bulletin of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History commented: "Darwin's theory of [evolution] has always been closely linked to evidence from fossils, and probably most people assume that fossils provide a very important part of the general argument that is made in favor of darwinian interpretations of the history of life. Unfortunately, this is not strictly true. (p. 20)||Darwin's theory of [evolution] has always been closely linked to evidence from fossils, and probably most people assume that fossils provide a very important part of the general argument that is made in favor of darwinian interpretations of the history of life. Unfortunately, this is not strictly true. We must distinguish between the fact of evolution, defined as change in organisms over time, and the explanation of this change. Darwin's contribution, through his theory of natural selection, was to suggest how the evolutionary change took place.|
Note that Life's premise of the completeness of the fossil record is false, and this incompleteness is also addressed by Raup in the quoted work.
Darwin vs. paleontology
|The Bulletin went on to say that Darwin "was embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn't look the way he predicted it would...the geologic record did not then and still does not yield a finely graduated chain of slow and progressive evolution. (p. 21)||The evidence we find in the geologic record is not nearly as compatible with darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be. Darwin was completely aware of this. He was embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn't look the way he predicted it would and, as a result, he devoted a long section of his Origin of Species to an attempt to explain and rationalize the differences. There were several problems, but the principal one was that the geologic record did not then and still does not yield a finely graduated chain of slow and progressive evolution. In other words, there are not enough intermediates. There are very few cases where one can find a gradual transition from one species to another and very few cases where one can look at a part of the fossil record and actually see that organisms were improving in the sense of becoming better adapted.|
Thus Raup does not concede that there are no fossil transitions, as implied by Life, but that they are rare.
|In fact now, after more than a century of collecting fossils, "we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time," explained the Bulletin. Why is this the case? Because the more abundant fossil evidence available today shows that some of the examples that were once used to support evolution now are seen not to do so at all.||The record of evolution is still surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information; what appeared to be a nice simple progression when relatively few data were available now appears to be much more complex and much less gradualistic. So Darwin's problem has not been alleviated in the last 120 years and we still have a record which does show change but one that can hardly be looked upon as the most reasonable consequence of natural selection.|
Additionally, Raup's suggestion that "classic cases of darwinian change in the fossil record" be discarded appears on page 20 of Life as the caption under depictions of Eohippus, Archaeopteryx, and lungfish, although Raup never mentioned Archaeopteryx or lungfish in the article.
Chance as an alternative to natural selection
To support its claim that evolution does not provide life with a required designer, Life presents this bit:
|Geologist David Raup says: "A currently important alternative to natural selection has to do with the effects of pure chance." But is "pure chance" a designer? Is it capable of producing the complexities that are the fabric of life? (p. 143)||A currently important alternative to natural selection has to do with the effects of pure chance. It has been suggested that there are traits which are not important enough to the organism to be "seen" by natural selection, and that a purely random system of evolution could work for these traits.|
Raup goes on to cite the example of the handedness of a shell spiral. Raup then is not suggesting that all of evolution is driven by chance, as implied by Life, but that chance can dictate the direction of some features that are not essential to survival.
Mark Ridley (8 September, 1956-)
Who Doubts Evolution?
New Scientist, vol. 90, 25 June 1981.
The fossil record isn't evidence
|"In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation."||"In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation. This does not mean that the theory of evolution is unproven... So what is the evidence that species have evolved? There have traditionally been three kinds of evidence, and it is these, not the "fossil evidence", that the critics should be thinking about. The three arguments are from the observed evolution of species, from biogeography, and from the hierarchical structure of taxonomy." And in his 1993 book Evolution: "In other respects, as we saw at the beginning of the chapter ... the fossil record provides important evidence for evolution. Against alternatives other than separate creation and transformism, the fossil record is valuable because it shows that the living world has not always been like it is now. The existence alone of fossils shows that there has been some kind of change, though it does not have to have been change in the sense of descent with modification." (p. 831)|
Michael Ruse, evolutionary biology
Is Evolution a Secular Religion?
Ruse, Michael. "Is evolution a secular religion?" Science 299.5612 (2003): 1523-1524.
Evolution is a religion
See main page.
Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
Sagan, Carl (1980). Cosmos. Random House, Inc. New York.
Life concludes its analysis of the fossil record with a quote from astronomer Carl Sagan, leaving the reader with the definite impression that Sagan believes the fossil record to provide evidence for creation.
|Life: Astronomer Carl Sagan candidly acknowledged in his book Cosmos: "The fossil evidence could be consistent with the idea of a Great Designer." (p. 70)||Sagan: The fossil evidence could be consistent with the idea of a Great Designer; perhaps some species are destroyed when the Designer becomes dissatisfied with them, and new experiments are attempted on an improved design. But this notion is a little disconcerting. Each plant and animal is exquisitely made; should not a supremely competent Designer have been able to make the intended variety from the start? The fossil record implies trial and error, an inability to anticipate the future, features inconsistent with an efficient Great Designer (although not with a Designer of a more remote and indirect temperament). (p. 29)|
Considering its context, the quote obviously was not intended to provide evidence for creation, and it is unfair of Life to portray it as such.
Macroevolution: Pattern and Process
Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, 1979.
Fossil record has no morphological transitions
It used to be claimed that the best evidence for evolution was the fossil record, but the fact is that the billions of known fossils have not yet yielded a single unequivocal transitional form with transitional structures in the process of evolving.
- "The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition...."
This ubiquitous absence of intermediate forms is true not only for "major morphologic transitions," but even for most species.
The full quote is as follows:
Some distinctive living species clearly originated in the very recent past, during brief instants of geologic time. Thus, quantum speciation is a real phenomenon. Chapters 4 through 6 provide evidence for the great importance of quantum speciation in macroevolution (for the validity of the punctuated model). Less conclusive evidence is as follows: (1) Very weak gene flow among populations of a species (a common phenomenon) argues against gradualism, because without efficient gene flow, phyletic evolution is stymied. (2) Many levels of spatial heterogeneity normally characterize populations in nature, and at some level, the conflict between gene flow between subpopulations and selection pressure within subpopulations should oppose evolutionary divergence of large segments of the gene pool; only small populations are likely to diverge rapidly. (3) Geographic clines, which seem to preserve in modern space changes that occurred in evolutionary time, can be viewed as supporting the punctuational model, because continuous clines that record gradual evolution within large populations represent gentle morphologic trends, while stepped clines seem to record rapid divergence of small populations. (4) Net morphologic changes along major phylogenetic pathways generally represent such miniscule mean selection coefficients that nonepisodic modes of transition are unlikely. Quantum speciation or stepwise evolution within lineages is implied. (5) The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition and hence offers no evidence that the gradualistic model can be valid.
This is a clear quotemine -- Stevens is arguing against gradualism (as can be seen by the latter part of the sentence, which creationists omitted), not against evolution. In fact, on page 26, Stevens argues for a "quantum evolution":
For the present, we can define quantum speciation simply as speciation in which most evolution is concentrated within an initial interval of time that is very brief with respect to the total longevity of the new lineage that is produced. Implicit in this concept is the idea that during the rapid, early phase of evolution, the seminal population has not yet expanded from its small, initial population size.
The New Evolutionary Timetable
The New Evolutionary Timetable. Basic Books, Inc. New York, 1981.
Inadequacy of fossil record
In an effort to advance its claim that the fossil record provides evidence against evolution, the Jehovah's Witnesses' publication Life--How did it get here? By evolution or by creation?, hereinafter referred to as Life, notes:
|The failure of the fossil evidence to support gradual evolution has disturbed many evolutionists. In The New Evolutionary Timetable, Steven Stanley spoke of "the general failure of the record to display gradual transitions from one major group to another." (p. 21)||The point here is that if the transition was typically rapid and the population small and localized, fossil evidence of the event would never be found. The other aspect of this argument is that the general failure of the record to display gradual transitions from one major group to another did not reflect a poor record for large, well-established species, but the slow evolution of such species: full-fledged species are not the entities that undergo the majority of major evolutionary changes. (p. 77)|
In fact Stanley is explaining Ernest Mayr's modern punctuational view of evolution. Although Stanley does speak of inadequacies of the fossil record, he offers an explanation as well as noting its strong points. This is not mentioned by Life.
Life continues quoting Stanley:
|He said: "The known fossil record is not, and never has been, in accord with [slow evolution]."||The known fossil record is not, and never has been, in accord with gradualism.(p. 71)|
Surprising things in the fossil record
To further support the claim that the fossil record provides evidence against evolution, Life presents:
|After all this time, and the assembling of millions of fossils, what does the record now say? Evolutionist Steven Stanley states that these fossils "reveal new and surprising things about our biological origins."... What is it that these evolutionary scientists have found to be so "surprising"...? What has confounded such scientists is the fact that the massive fossil evidence now available reveals the very same thing that it did in Darwin's day: Basic kinds of living things appeared suddenly and did not change appreciably for long periods of time. (p. 59)||...reveal new and surprising things about our origins. Fossils are vestiges of ancient life, shards of long-lost biotas. Some are skeletons--shells, bones, and teeth, for example. Others are traces of activity--tracks, trails, burrow, and even defecations. Some fossils are drab and inconspicuous, but others are spectacularly beautiful....Fossils are quite dead, but in the eye of the sapient observer they often spring to life. In these ghosts of stone we can see shapes and movements of the past. From fossils, uniquely, we can read something of the history of life on Earth. Ancient patterns of behavior and of biotic interaction move within our reach. (p. 7)|
Thus Life has taken the quote out of context and assigned it a meaning that was not intended by the original author by misidentifying his "surprising things" with what they wanted to promote.
What happened to the bowfin fishes
In a list of quotes apparently intended to demonstrate that fish have not evolved, the anti-science "Evolution Encyclopedia" quotes Stanley:
|As a first example, we can consider the bowfin fishes. . No more than two bowfin species are known to have existed at any one time . . What has happened to the bowfin fishes during their long history of more than one hundred million years? Next to nothing! The bowfins of seventy or eighty million years ago must have lived very much as their lake dwelling descendants do today.||What has happened to the bowfin fishes during their long history of more than one hundred million years? Next to nothing! During the latter part of the Cretaceous, bowfins became slightly more elongate, but during the entire sixty-five million years of the Cenozoic Era, they evolved in only trivial ways. Two new species are recognized, but these differ from their Late Cretaceous ancestors only in subtle features that represent no basic shift of adaptation. The bowfins of seventy or eighty million years ago must have lived very much as their lake-dwelling descendants do today. Thus, the punctuational view is favored. (p. 83-84|
In the original context Stanley proposes a "thought experiment." He suggests that, concerning phylogenies with historically few species, if a gradualist model of evolution is correct then one would expect to see great change over the lifetime of the lineage. If on the other hand evolution occurs by speciation (punctualist model) then one would expect to see little change. Thus, he is not decrying evolution but arguing for his preferred model of it.
Species not evolving much
To support its claim that life appeared suddenly, Life presents:
|In the layers above that Cambrian outburst of life, the testimony of the fossil record is repeatedly the same: New kinds of animals and new kinds of plants appear suddenly, with no connection to anything that went before them. And once on the scene, they continue with little change. The New Evolutionary Timetable states: "The record now reveals that species typically survive for a hundred thousand generations, or even a million or more, without evolving very much.... After their origins, most species undergo little evolution before becoming extinct." (p. 63)||The record now reveals that species typically survive for a hundred thousand generations, or even a million or more, without evolving very much. We seem forced to conclude that most evolution takes place rapidly, when species come into being by the evolutionary divergence of small populations from parent species. After their origins, most species undergo little evolution before becoming extinct. (p. xv)|
The omitted sentence then offers Stanley's explanation for the phenomena of sudden appearance and stasis of which Life is critical. Note also that the quote clearly states species do in fact evolve.
Horses appearing suddenly
In a marginal gloss in a section titled "What About the Horse?" Life quotes The New Evolutionary Timetable:
|The Equus group, which includes all living horses...appears suddenly in the fossil record...their origin is not documented by known fossil evidence. (p. 67)||All of these Ice Age species belong to the Equus group, which includes all living horses and zebras. The Equus kind of animal appears suddenly in the fossil record in North American deposits less than three million years old. This familiar creature evolved from an ancestor of quite different form--one that had toes flanking each of its hoofs, as well as much simpler molar teeth than the modern horse. Horses of the modern Equus type obviously evolved rapidly, and apparently for this reason their origin is not documented by known fossil evidence. (pp. 4-5)|
Note that Stanley believes the modern horse did evolve from a precursor species and further he presents an explanation for their sudden appearance, neither of which is mentioned in the quote by Life.
Life also notes:
|Placing little Eohippus as the ancestor of the horse strains the imagination, especially in view of what The New Evolutionary Timetable says: "It was widely assumed that [Eohippus] had slowly but persistently turned into a more fully equine animal." But do the facts support this assumption? "The fossil species of [Eohippus] show little evidence of evolutionary modification," answers the book. It thus concedes, regarding the fossil record: "It fails to document the full history of the horse family." So, some scientists now say that little Eohippus never was a type of horse or an ancestor of one. (p. 67)||The fossil record of horses also testifies to an episodic tempo for evolution, and this is particularly notable because for decades the record of ancient horses was heralded as the classic illustration of gradual transformation. Although this fossil record, like all others, is incomplete, so that it fails to document the full history of the horse family, one of its striking revelations is great evolutionary stability for tiny dawn horses... (p. 4)
...among the sluggishly changing species of the Bighorn Basin were members of the "dawn horse" genus Hyracotherium, (formerly called Eohippus), the animal generally believed to be the distant ancestor of the modern horse. The fossil species of Hyracotherium show little evidence of evolutionary modification... For many years, while gradualistic thinking dominated evolutionary science, it was widely assumed that Hyracotherium had slowly but persistently turned into a more fully equine animal.The new evidence for the stability of early Cenozoic species forces us to focus upon change by speciation involving small populations. (p. 95-96)
Note how Life has rearranged Stanley's words to make it look as if he is saying that Eohippus was not the ancestor of the modern horse. In reality he is merely explaining that horse evolution, once thought to be gradual, is now viewed as having long periods of stability.
Human descent from an apelike form
To support its claim that the fossil record does not provide information about human origin, Life presents:
|The human family does not consist of a solitary line of descent leading from an apelike form to our species. (p. 69)||Because the human family does not consist of a solitary line of descent leading from an apelike form to our species, Homo sapiens, we are not as special as we would like to think. Had a perceptive being somehow passively watched human evolution for the three or four million years before our species and its immediate ancestors appeared, it could not have predicted our origin.(p. 5)|
Stanley is merely noting that human evolution is complex.
Australopithecus brain capacity
To support its claim that Australopithecus also could not be an ancestor of modern humans, Life again quotes The New Evolutionary Timetable:
|So, too, with Australopithecus. More research has disclosed that its skull "differed from that of humans in more ways than its smaller brain capacity." (pp. 93, 94)||Although this is a correct quotation, in the same and preceding paragraphs, Stanley indicates ways in which Australopithecus is similar to modern humans: "A particularly human aspect of its skeleton was its dentition. Here it shared with our species several traits..." (p. 94) Australopithecus africanus, like our species, was a fully upright creature. (p. 142)|
These similarities indicated by Stanley are not mentioned by Life, as they do not support the argument that the author is trying to advance.
Sullivan, J. W. N.
Abiogenesis as an article of faith
Fallacy: outdated authority
Life quotes science writer J. W. N. Sullivan in a panel in a chapter titled "Could life originate by chance?":
The hypothesis that life has developed from inorganic matter is, at present, still an article of faith. (p. 52)
On Growth and Form
Thompson, D'Arcy. On Growth and Form. 1942. Cambridge University Press: London, Second Edition, 1952, reprint, Vol. II.
Seeking for stepping-stones
To further support its claim that the fossil record does not provide evidence of evolution, Life presents:
|Life: The evidence of the fossil record is still as zoologist D'Arcy Thompson said some years ago in his book On Growth and Form: "Darwinian evolution has not taught us how birds descend from reptiles, mammals from earlier quadrupeds, quadrupeds from fishes, nor vertebrates from the invertebrate stock.... to seek for stepping-stones across the gaps between is to seek in vain, for ever." (p. 66)||Thompson: There is one last lesson which coordinate geometry helps us to learn; it is simple and easy, but very important indeed. In the study of evolution, and in all attempts to trace the descent of the animal kingdom, fourscore years' study of the Origin of Species has had an unlooked-for and disappointing result. It was hoped to begin with, and within my own recollection it was confidently believed, that the broad lines of descent, the relation of the main branches to one another and to the trunk of the tree, would soon be settled, and the lesser ramifications would be unravelled [sic] bit by bit and later on. But things have turned out otherwise. We have long known, in more or less satisfactory detail, the pedigree of horses, elephants, turtles, crocodiles and some few more; and our conclusions tally as to these, again more or less to our satisfaction, with the direct evidence of palaeontological succession. But the larger and at first sight simpler questions remain unanswered; for eighty years' study of Darwinian evolution has not taught us how birds descend from reptiles, mammals from earlier quadrupeds, quadrupeds from fishes, nor vertebrates from the invertebrate stock. [....] A "principle of discontinuity," then, is, inherent in all our classifications, whether mathematical, physical or biological; and the infinitude of possible forms, always limited, may be further reduced and discontinuity further revealed by imposing conditions-as, for example, that our parameters must be whole numbers, or proceed by quanta, as the physicists say. The lines of the spectrum, the six families of crystals, Dalton's atomic law, the chemical elements themselves, all illustrate this principle of discontinuity. In short, nature proceeds from one type to another among organic as well as inorganic forms; and these types vary according to their own parameters, and are defined by physico-mathematical conditions of possibility. In natural history Cuvier's "types" may not be perfectly chosen nor numerous enough, but types they are; and to seek for stepping-stones across the gaps between is to seek in vain, for ever. (p. 1092-1093)|
Thompson then does not mean for the "gaps" to refer to deficiencies in the fossil record, as it is made to appear by Life, but rather to the steps between "types." Note also that Thompson does not necessarily regard the gaps between types to be evidence against evolution. In this same work he explains:
We may fail to find the actual links between the vertebrate groups, but yet their resemblance and their relationship, real though indefinable, are plain to see; there are gaps between the groups, but we can see, so to speak, across the gap. (p. 1093)
In essence, he argues for a structuralist perspective on evolution.
On the survival of paleoforms
American Journal of Science, vol. 276, 1 January 1976, pp. 77–95 
Paleoforms as embarrassment to science
"The survival of these paleoforms is in some degree an embarrassment to all the commonly accepted models of landscape development."
The survival of these paleoforms is in some degree an embarrassment to all the commonly accepted models of landscape development... Thus the Davisian and steady state concepts offer no theoretical possibility for the survival of paleoforms, but the scarp retreat hypothesis and some of Kennedy's models do, provided the relative immunity of interfluves to weathering and erosion can be explained. (p. 82)Even if the conclusions reached by many workers over the years are only partly correct, it is clear that remnants of paleoforms are an integral part of the modern land surface ... The hills are not everlasting as Jacob implied (Genesis, 49, 26), but they persist for much longer periods than has been generally conceded. (p. 91)
von Braun, Wernher
Nazi rocket engineer whose major achievement (before working on the US space program) was his construction of V1 and V2 rockets for the Third Reich.
Origin of laws of the universe
To advance the anthropic principle, Life quotes von Braun:
The natural laws of the universe are so precise that we have no difficulty building a spaceship to fly to the moon and can time the flight with the precision of a fraction of a second. These laws must have been set by somebody. (p. 124)
It is unclear why von Braun, as a consumer of the physical laws, should be an authority on their origin. Additionally, the source of this quote is identified per Life to be the National Enquirer, which is not considered a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
"The Editorial Notebook; How Old Is Man?"
Wade, Nicholas. The Editorial Notebook; How Old Is Man? The New York Times. October 4, 1982.
Known human fossils fit on a billiard table
The known fossil remains of man's ancestors would fit on a billiard table. That makes a poor platform from which to peer into the mysteries of the last few million years. (p. 86)
Contrary to this statement, paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall, PhD, notes there have been a "huge number" of recent human fossil finds.  Notwithstanding the truth of the quoted statement at the time it was made, it is in fact merely the opinion of science writer Nicholas Wade.
Although the meaning of the statement likely does not differ significantly from that intended by the original author, the statement from The New York Times is also quoted out of context. It should read:
In 1978 Mary Leakey discovered at Laetoli in Kenya a fossilized trail of 70 humanlike footprints marked out some 3.7 million years ago. But with this notable exception, the known fossil remains of man's ancestors would fit on a billiard table. That makes a poor platform from which to peer into the mists of the last few million years from which the hominid line suddenly emerged. (p. A18)
Note that the quote in Life is presented without mention of the Laetoli footprints and without ellipses, as if the thought started with "the known fossil remains"—Life even improperly capitalized it as if to hide that something came before.
"The Origin of Life"
Wald, George. "The Origin of Life". Scientific American, August 1954, p. 44-53.
To help support its claim that life could not develop spontaneously, Life presents:
Biochemist George Wald agrees with this view, stating: "Spontaneous dissolution is much more probable, and hence proceeds much more rapidly, than spontaneous synthesis." This means there would be no accumulation of organic soup! Wald believes this to be "the most stubborn problem thatconfronts us [evolutionists]." (p. 42)
|Wald: That is to say, spontaneous dissolution is much more probable, and hence proceeds much more rapidly, than spontaneous synthesis. For example, the spontaneous union, step by step, of amino acid units to form a protein has a certain small probability, and hence might occur over a long stretch of time. But the dissolution of the protein or of an intermediate product into its component amino acids is much more probable, and hence will go ever so much more rapidly. The situation we must face is that of patient Penelope waiting for Odysseus, yet much worse: each night she undid the weaving of the preceding day, but here a night could readily undo the work of a year or a century. How do present-day organisms manage to synthesize organic compounds against the forces of dissolution? They do so by a continuous expenditure of energy. Indeed, living organisms commonly do better than oppose the forces of dissolution; they grow in spite of them. They do so, however, only at enormous expense to their surroundings. They need a constant supply of material and energy merely to maintain themselves, and much more of both to grow and reproduce. A living organism is an intricate machine for performing exactly this function. When, for want of fuel or through some internal failure in its mechanism, an organism stops actively synthesizing itself in opposition to the processes which continuously decompose it, it dies and rapidly disintegrates. What we ask here is to synthesize organic molecules without such a machine. I believe this to be the most stubborn problem that confronts us-the weakest link at present in our argument. I do not think it by any means disastrous, but it calls for phenomena and forces some of which are as yet only partly understood and some probably still to be discovered. (p. 9)|
Wald then does not find the problem to be as hopeless as Life would have us believe, which of course Life neglects to mention.
Lord Solly Zuckerman. Anatomist.
Fallacies: outdated authority
When compared with human and simian [ape] skulls, the Australopithecine skull is in appearance overwhelmingly simian - not human. The contrary proposition could be equated to an assertion that black is white. (p.94)
The source for the quote is identified as the Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, January, 1966. Thus Zuckerman made this observation before significant Australopithecine discoveries such as the "Lucy" skeleton found in 1974.
Furthermore, Zuckerman's claim had been successfully refuted long before Lucy.
Quotes about quotes
Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.", 1973
Disagreements and clashes of opinion are rife among biologists, as they should be in a living and growing science. Anti-evolutionists mistake, or pretend to mistake, these disagreements as indications of dubiousness of the entire doctrine of evolution. Their favorite sport is stringing together quotations, carefully and sometimes expertly taken out of context, to show that nothing is really established or agreed upon among evolutionists. Some of my colleagues and myself have been amused and amazed to read ourselves quoted in a way showing that we are really anti-evolutionists under the skin.
Richard Lewontin, "Adaptation," Scientific American, 1978:
Modern expressions of creationism and especially so-called "scientific" creationism are making extensive use of the tactic of selective quotation in order to make it appear that numerous biologists doubt the reality of evolution. The creationists take advantage of the fact that evolutionary biology is a living science containing disagreements about certain details of the evolutionary process by taking quotations about such details out of context in an attempt to support the creationists' antievolutionary stand. Sometimes they simply take biologists' descriptions of creationism and then ascribe these views to the biologists themselves! These patently dishonest practices of misquotation give us a right to question even the sincerity of creationists.
Stephen Jay Gould, "Evolution as Fact and Theory," Discover, May 1981:
It is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms.[note 2]
Popular books to quote
- The New Evolution: Zoogenesis (1930) by American zoologist Austin Hobart Clark. Advocates a form of orthogenesis.
- Great Evolution Mystery (1984) written by British journalist Gordon Rattray Taylor. The book advocates orthogenesis and other non-Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms.
- Evolution of Living Organisms (1977) written by French zoologist Pierre-Paul Grassé. Grassé was a critic of the Modern evolutionary synthesis and instead advocated neo-Lamarckism.
- A New Science of Life (1981) by British biochemist Rupert Sheldrake advocates a non-genetic account of morphogenesis.
- The Facts of Life: Shattering the Myth of Darwinism (1993) by British journalist Richard Milton. The books rejects mutation and natural selection as evolutionary mechanisms and advocates vitalism and neo-Lamarckian-type mechanisms.
- Darwinian Fairytales (1995) by Australian philosopher David Stove. Attacks natural selection and criticises the Darwinian view of evolution as an explanation for sociobiological behavior such as altruism.
- Astrobiology: The Origins of Life and the Death of Darwinism (2001) by neuropsychologist Rhawn Joseph. Advocates panspermia and "pre-determined evolutionary metamorphosis".
- LifeCode: The Theory of Biological Self Organization (2004) written by American chemist Stuart Pivar. Rejects natural selection as an evolutionary mechanism and advocates self-organization.
- Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves (2009) by medical journalist James Le Fanu. Rejects materialism and also attacks the Darwinian mechanisms of evolution.
- What Darwin Got Wrong (2010) by philosopher Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. Criticism of natural selection.
- Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (2012) written by philosopher Thomas Nagel. Claims the Darwinian mechanisms of evolution fail to explain consciousness and that materialism is false.
Want to read this in another language?
- Jastrow figures prominently in Merchants of Doubt.
- Hey guys he said "the fossil record includes no transitional forms"!!1!1 evilution disproved??/?
- Life — How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or By Creation? Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc, 1985.
- Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. Brooklyn, New York. 1998.
- Darwin's untimely burial, Stephen Jay Gould.
- The School of Biblical Evangelism: 101 Lessons : how to Share Your Faith Simply, Effectively, Biblically-- the Way Jesus Did
- Comfort Food: Comfort Food ,delectable Devotions to Satisfy the Soul
- The Creation-Evolution Controversy (Implications, Methodology and Survey of Evidence)
- Gaither's Dictionary of Scientific Quotations
- Darwin, Charles (1859). The Origin of Species. p. 488
- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
- A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism
- McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
- See here.
- What the Creation Book Says About the Evolution of Man, Alan Feuerbacher
- Disagreements About Evolution, Alan Feuerbacher
- Evolution as Fact and Theory, Stephen Jay Gould
- Compare the number of Google search results for the short form and a fuller quote
- Institute for Creation Research; Google (wave at us!) for others.
- David Gower, British Centre for Science Education
- Hitching, Francis (1982). The Neck of the Giraffe. Ticknor & Fields. New Haven. p. 84
- http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/adaptation/ (paywalled)
- Quotations and Research in the Society's Publications
- Parker, Gary (Oct 1, 1980). Creation, Selection, and Variation. Impact. Institute for Creation Research
- Misquoted Scientists Respond, National Center for Science Education
- See here.
- Google Books copy
- Jehovah's Witnesses and Young Earth Creationists, Alan Feuerbacher
- See here.
- David M. Raup Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology. Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin. January, 1979. Vol. 50, No. 1
- Evolution Encyclopedia Vol. 2, Chapter 17 Appendix Part 3, Evolution-facts.org
- See here.
- Expert Interview Transcripts, Rediscovering Biology
- Johanson, Donald; Edey, Maitland (1981). Lucy, The Beginnings of Humankind. Simon and Schuster. New York. pp. 75-77
- Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution, Evolution Library
- Misquoted Scientists Respond, National Center for Science Education