theory of biological evolution driven by natural selection
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Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.

As "Darwinism" became widely accepted in the 1870s, caricatures of Charles Darwin with an ape or monkey body symbolised evolution.
CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also, External links


Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F

  • There may be more truth in the adventurous pangenesis of Darwin — whom Tyndall calls a "soaring speculator" — than in the cautious, line-bound hypothesis of the latter... If we accept Darwin's theory of the development of species, we find that his starting-point is placed in front of an open door. We are at liberty with him, to either remain within, or cross the threshold, beyond which lies the limitless and the incomprehensible, or rather the Unutterable.
  • But what lies back of the Darwinian line of descent? So far as he is concerned nothing but "unverifiable hypotheses." For, as he puts it, he views all beings "as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited." ("Origin of Species," pp. 448, 489, first edition) He does not attempt to show us who these "few beings" were. But it answers our purpose quite as well, for in the admission of their existence at all, resort to the ancients for corroboration and elaboration of the idea receives the stamp of scientific approbation. With all the changes that our globe has passed through as regards temperature, climate, soil, and — if we may be pardoned, in view of recent developments — its electromagnetic condition, he would be bold indeed who dare say that anything in present science contradicts the ancient hypothesis of ante-Silurian man.
  • Chaldean Kabalists tell us that primeval man, who, contrary to the Darwinian theory was purer, wiser, and far more spiritual, as shown by the myths of the Scandinavian Bur, the Hindu Dejotas, and the Mosaic "sons of God," — in short, of a far higher nature than the man of the present Adamic race, became despiritualized or tainted with matter, and then, for the first time, was given the fleshly body, which is typified in Genesis in that profoundly significant verse: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skin, and clothed them."
  • The Egyptian Pyramid also symbolically represents this idea of the mundane tree. Its apex is the mystic link between heaven and earth, and stands for the root, while the base represents the spreading branches, extending to the four cardinal points of the universe of matter. It conveys the idea that all things had their origin in spirit — evolution having originally begun from above and proceeded downward, instead of the reverse, as taught in the Darwinian theory. In other words, there has been a gradual materialization of forms until a fixed ultimate of debasement is reached. This point is that at which the doctrine of modern evolution enters into the arena of speculative hypothesis.
  • The whole Darwinian theory of natural selection is included in the first six chapters of the Book of Genesis. The "Man" of chapter i. is radically different from the "Adam" of chapter ii., for the former was created "male and female" — that is, bi-sexed — and in the image of God; while the latter, according to verse seven, was formed of the dust of the ground, and became "a living soul," after the Lord God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life."
  • Space fails us to present the speculative views of certain ancient and mediæval occultists... Suffice it that they antedated Darwin, embraced more or less all his theories on natural selection and the evolution of species, and largely extended the chain at both ends. Moreover, these philosophers were explorers as daring in psychology as in physiology and anthropology. They never turned aside from the double parallel-path traced for them by their great master Hermes. "As above, so below," was ever their axiom; and their physical evolution was traced out simultaneously with the spiritual one.
  • There are people in the world who desperately want not to have to believe in Darwinism.
  • Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century.
  • I think it is not helpful to apply Darwinian language too widely. Conquest of nation by nation is too distant for Darwinian explanations to be helpful. Darwinism is the differential survival of self-replicating genes in a gene pool, usually as manifested by individual behaviour, morphology, and phenotypes. Group selection of any kind is not Darwinism as Darwin understood it nor as I understand it. There is a very vague analogy between group selection and conquest of a nation by another nation, but I don't think it's a very helpful analogy. So I would prefer not to invoke Darwinian language for that kind of historical interpretation.
    • Richard Dawkins Darwin's Dangerous Disciple: An Interview by Frank Miele (1995)
  • The fact is that for complex systems like the bacterial flagellum no biologist has or is anywhere close to reconstructing its history in Darwinian terms. Is Darwinian theory therefore falsified? Hardly. I have yet to witness one committed Darwinist concede that any feature of nature might even in principle provide countervailing evidence to Darwinism. In place of such a concession one is instead always treated to an admission of ignorance. Thus it's not that Darwinism has been falsified or disconfirmed, but that we simply don't know enough about the biological system in question and its historical context to determine how the Darwinian mechanism might have produced it.
  • Whenever Darwinism is the topic, the temperature rises, because more is at stake than just the empirical facts about how life on Earth evolved, or the correct logic of the theory that accounts for those facts. One of the precious things that is at stake is a vision of what it means to ask, and answer, the question "Why?" Darwin's new perspective turns several traditional assumptions upside down, undermining our standard ideas about what ought to count as satisfying answers to this ancient and inescapable question. Here science and philosophy get completely intertwined. Scientists sometimes deceive themsevles into thinking that philosophical ideas are only, at best, decorations or parasitic commentaries on the hard, objective triumphs of science, and that they themselves are immune to the confusions that philosophers devote their lives to dissolving. But there is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.
The Darwinian Revolution is both a scientific and a philosophical revolution, and neither revolution could have occurred without the other. As we shall see, it was the philosophical prejudices of the scientists, more than their lack of scientific evidence, that prevented them from seeing how the theory could actually work, but those philosophical prejudices that had to be overthrown were too deeply entrenched to be dislodged by mere philosophical brilliance. It took an irresistible parade of hard-won scientific facts to force thinkers to take seriously the weird new outlook that Darwin proposed.
Let me lay my cards on the table. If I were to give an award for the single best idea anyone has ever had, I'd give it to Darwin, ahead of Newton and Einstein and everyone else. In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning, and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law. But it is not just a wonderful scientific idea. It is a dangerous idea. My admiration for Darwin's magnificent idea is unbounded, but I, too, cherish many of the ideas and ideals that it seems to challenge, and want to protect them. … The only good way to do this—the only way that has a chance in the long run—is to cut through the smokescreens and look at the idea as unflinchingly, as dispassionately, as possible.
  • The idea of Darwinian natural evolution was paramount in Hayek’s early development. His family background was primarily in the natural sciences. While his maternal grandfather, Franz von Juraschek, was an economist and friend of some of the original mem bers of the Austrian school of economics, Juraschek died in 1910, when Hayek was ten or eleven. Despite Hayek’s precociousness, he could not have been much influenced by this grandfather. A far greater intellectual influence on Friedrich was his father, August, who was a medical doctor for the City of Vienna and a part-time professor of botany at the University of Vienna. Hayek mentioned the intellectual influence of his father on him in a late interview: “We have talked... about my contemporaries and to some extent about the influence of my father, which was of some importance.”
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 1. Darwinian Evolutionary Theory
  • The intellectual milieu of Hayek’s youth was Darwinian. Hayek remarked that both his father and paternal grandfather were Darwinians and that everyone with whom his family associated through his fa ther’s university connections was secular. He recalled that, when he was about fourteen, his father gave him a substantial treatise on the theory of evolution. If he had received the work a year later, he noted, “I probably would have stuck with biology. The things did interest me immensely.”
    Hayek was extremely interested in botany until he was fifteen or so. It is easy to imagine that conversations regarding his father’s botanical work were a frequent topic around the Hayek family dinner table. August traveled extensively on plant expeditions and had a small business selling and exchanging plant specimens with which young Fritz (Hayek’s nickname, which he disliked) assisted him. The two also went to meetings of the Vienna Zoologic and Botanical Society together. It is possible that three generations of von Hayeks sometimes attended these meetings—Gustav, August, and Friedrich.
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 1. Darwinian Evolutionary Theory
  • The fittest survive.
    What is meant by the fittest?
    Not the strongest; not the cleverest —
    Weakness and stupidity everywhere survive.
    There is no way of determining fitness except in that a thing does survive.
    "Fitness," then, is only another name for "survival."
    That survivors survive.

G - L

  • What’s being pushed is to have Darwinism critiqued, to teach there’s a controversy. Intelligent design itself does not have any content.
  • I'm not familiar that they're dodging it. Maybe they are. But I think schools also ought to be fair to all views. Because, frankly, Darwinism is not an established scientific fact. It is a theory of evolution, that's why it's called the theory of evolution.
  • What if the orbit of Darwinism should be a little too circular? What if species should offer residual phenomena, here and there, not explicable by natural selection? Twenty years hence naturalists may be in a position to say whether this is, or is not, the case; but in either event they will owe the author of "The Origin of Species" an immense debt of gratitude...... And viewed as a whole, we do not believe that, since the publication of Von Baer's "Researches on Development," thirty years ago, any work has appeared calculated to exert so large an influence, not only on the future of Biology, but in extending the domination of Science over regions of thought into which she has, as yet, hardly penetrated.
  • Scientists have long known that Darwinism is false. They have adhered to the myth out of self-interest and a zealous desire to put down God.
    • Phillip E. Johnson, Interview with Claire Cooper, Legal Affairs Writer, published in "Berkeley Law Professor Finds Darwin Wanting: Author Calls Evolution 'Imaginative Story' ", Sacramento Bee, 3 June 1991, p. B5
  • In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense-not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.

M - R

  • The row was over Darwinism, but before it ended Darwinism was almost forgotten. What Huxley fought for was something far greater: the right of civilized men to think freely and speak freely, without asking leave of authority, clerical or lay. How new that right is! And yet how firmly held! Today it would be hard to imagine living without it. No man of self-respect, when he has a thought to utter, pauses to wonder what the bishops will have to say about it. The views of bishops are simply ignored. Yet only sixty years ago they were still so powerful that they gave Huxley the battle of his life.
    • H. L. Mencken in "Thomas Henry Huxley" in the Baltimore Evening Sun (4 May 1925).
  • There is an old Qabbalistic axiom which runs as follows: "The stone becomes a plant; the plant a animal; the animal a man; and the man a god." So it is; but the literal form of these words should not be construed as expressing a perfect Darwinism; not at all... We must not imagine for a moment that the natural truth of progressive development, modernly called evolution, is something new in our age or in the age of our immediate fathers, nor that it originated in the mind of Charles Darwin, whose great work, The Origin of Species, was published in 1859...
    The psychology of the times following the publication of Darwin's works was so strong that most thinking men could not then be brought to admit that there were any alternative explanations of the phenomena of progressive development in life — human, animal, or plant life — to the scheme of transformism which he set forth...
    This idea of a progressive development of all animate entities on earth in present and past geological periods is, indeed, a very old one.

S - Z

  • Darwin seems to lose out with the public primarily when his supporters force him into a mano-a-mano Thunderdome death match against the Almighty. Most people seem willing to accept Darwinism as long as they don't have to believe in nothing but Darwinism. Thus, the strident tub-thumping for absolute atheism by evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins, whom the new issue of Discover Magazine rightly criticizes as "Darwin's Rottweiler," is self-defeating.
  • Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is the only workable explanation that has ever been proposed for the remarkable fact of our own existence, indeed the existence of all life wherever it may turn up in the universe.
  • Natural selection is the only workable explanation for the beautiful and compelling illusion of 'design' that pervades every living body and every organ. Knowledge of evolution may not be strictly useful in everyday commerce. You can live some sort of life and die without ever hearing the name of Darwin. But if, before you die, you want to understand why you lived in the first place, Darwinism is the one subject that you must study.
  • Darwinism is still very much alive, utterly dominating biology. Despite the fact that no one has ever been able to prove the creation of a single distinct species by Darwinist means, Darwinism dominates the academy and the media.
  • [The] Third [problem with Darwinism], which I think is overwhelming, and just sort of blows the whole theory of Random Mutation out of the water, is, at least, let me say, raises big questions, that is. Assuming it all did happen by Random Mutation and Natural Selection, where did the laws of gravity come from. Where did the laws of thermodynamics come from? Where did the laws of motion and, of heat come from? Where, I guess that's the same as thermodynamics. Where did all these laws, that make it possible for the universe to function, where did they all come from? Why isn't all just chaos and everything collapsing in on itself and killing everything?
  • The truth is Darwinism is not a scientific theory, but a materialistic creation myth masquerading as science. It is first and foremost a weapon against religion – especially traditional Christianity. Evidence is brought in afterwards, as window dressing.
  • Science follows the evidence wherever it leads, but Darwinism does not. So the present controversy over evolution is not a war between science and religion. It is primarily a war between Darwinism and evidence--and the evidence will win.
  • I experience the same sense of absurdity when I listen to a cosmologist like Stephen Hawking telling us that the universe began with a big bang fifteen billion years ago, and that physics will shortly create a 'theory of everything' that will answer every possible question about our universe; this entails the corollary that God is an unnecessary hypothesis. Then I think of the day when I suddenly realized that I did not know where space ended, and it becomes obvious that Hawking is also burying his head in the sand. God may be an unnecessary hypothesis for all I know, and I do not have the least objection to Hawking dispensing with him, but until we can understand why there is existence rather than nonexistence, then we simply have no right to make such statements. It is unscientific. The same applies to the biologist Richard Dawkins, with his belief that strict Darwinism can explain everything, and that life is an accidental product of matter. I feel that he is trying to answer the ultimate question by pretending it does not exist.

See also

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