Denyse O’Leary on her blog is arguing that Stephen Jay Gould would never have signed on with the National Center for
Science Education’s Selling Evolution’s Project Steve, whose signatories agree that “there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence” (go here for the NCSE’s announcement of Project Steve, and go here for O’Leary’s blog entry disputing that Stephen Jay would ever have signed on to this project).
In particular, O’Leary cites a friend of Stephen Jay’s, Stuart Pivar, who is urging the NCSE to remove from its Project Steve statement an overemphasis on the role of natural selection in biological evolution. Pivar writes: “A main point in Goulds message to us regarding how evolution works is that natural selection is not responsible for form, playing only a minor, eliminative role in the selection among a choice of forms produced by other means. You might consider installing the words ‘or that natural structural processes and heterochony are the major mechanisms in its occurence.'”
Compare this to Stephen Jay Gould’s claim in his 1999 Rocks of Ages (pp. 56-57): “My colleagues in evolutionary theory are presently engaged in a healthy debate about whether a limited amount of Lamarckian evolution may be occurring for restricted phenomena in bacteria. Yet the fascination and intensity of this question does not change the well-documented conclusion that Darwinian processes dominate in the general run of evolutionary matters.” Does it need to be added that natural selection is the central mechanism in any Darwinian process?