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Interesting Quotes From Biology Textbooks

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For those who are convinced that Darwinism has no meaningful philosophical or theological implications I offer the following quotes from biology textbooks. Special thanks go to ID colleague Casey Luskin.

“[E]volution works without either plan or purpose — Evolution is random and undirected.”

(Biology, by Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine (1st ed., Prentice Hall, 1991), pg. 658; (3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 1995), pg. 658; (4th ed., Prentice Hall, 1998), pg. 658; emphasis in original.)

“Humans represent just one tiny, largely fortuitous, and late-arising twig on the enormously arborescent bush of life.”

(Stephen J Gould quoted in Biology, by Peter H Raven & George B Johnson (5th ed., McGraw Hill, 1999), pg 15; (6th ed., McGraw Hill, 2000), pg. 16.)

“By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”

(Evolutionary Biology, by Douglas J. Futuyma (3rd ed., Sinauer Associates Inc., 1998), p. 5.)

“Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless–a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit. Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.”

(Biology: Discovering Life by Joseph S. Levine & Kenneth R. Miller (1st ed., D.C. Heath and Co., 1992), pg. 152; (2nd ed.. D.C. Heath and Co., 1994), p. 161; emphases in original.)

“Adopting this view of the world means accepting not only the processes of evolution, but also the view that the living world is constantly evolving, and that evolutionary change occurs without any ‘goals.’ The idea that evolution is not directed towards a final goal state has been more difficult for many people to accept than the process of evolution itself.”

(Life: The Science of Biology by William K. Purves, David Sadava, Gordon H. Orians, & H. Craig Keller, (6th ed., Sinauer; W.H. Freeman and Co., 2001), pg. 3.)

“The ‘blind’ watchmaker is natural selection. Natural selection is totally blind to the future. … Humans are fundamentally not exceptional because we came from the same evolutionary source as every other species. It is natural selection of selfish genes that has given us our bodies and brains … Natural selection is a bewilderingly simple idea. And yet what it explains is the whole of life, the diversity of life, the apparent design of life.”

(Richard Dawkins quoted in Biology by Neil A. Campbell, Jane B. Reese. & Lawrence G. Mitchell (5th ed., Addison Wesley Longman, 1999), pgs. 412-413.)

“Of course, no species has ‘chosen’ a strategy. Rather, its ancestors—little by little, generation after generation—merely wandered into a successful way of life through the action of random evolutionary forces …. Once pointed in a certain direction, a line of evolution survives only if the cosmic dice continues to roll in its favor. … [J]ust by chance, a wonderful diversity of life has developed during the billions of years in which organisms have been evolving on earth.”

(Biology by Burton S. Guttman (1st ed., McGraw Hill, 1999), pgs. 36-37.)

“It is difficult to avoid the speculation that Darwin, as has been the case with others, found the implications of his theory difficult to confront. … The real difficulty in accepting Darwin’s theory has always been that it seems to diminish our significance. Earlier, astronomy had made it clear that the earth is not the center of the solar universe, or even of our own solar system. Now the new biology asked us to accept the proposition that, like all other organisms, we too are the products of a random process that, as far as science can show, we are not created for any special purpose or as part of any universal design.”

(Invitation to Biology, by Helena Curtis & N. Sue Barnes(3rd ed., Worth, 1981), pgs. 474-475.)

“The advent of Darwinism posted even greater threats to religion by suggesting that biological relationship, including the origin of humans and of all species, could be explained by natural selection without the intervention of a god. Many felt that evolutionary randomness and uncertainty had replaced a deity having conscious, purposeful, human characteristics. The Darwinian view that evolution is a historical process and present-type organisms were not created spontaneously but formed in a succession of selective events that occurred in the past, contradicted the common religious view that there could be no design, biological or otherwise, without an intelligent designer. … The variability by which selection depends may be random, but adaptions are not; they arise because selection chooses and perfects only what is adaptive. In this scheme a god of design and purpose is not necessary. Neither religion nor science has irrevocably conquered. Religion has been bolstered by paternalistic social systems in which individuals depend on the beneficiences of those more powerful than they are, as well as the comforting idea that humanity was created in the image of a god to rule over the world and its creatures. Religion provided emotional solace … Nevertheless, faith in religious dogma has been eroded by natural explanations of its mysteries, by a deep understanding of the sources of human emotional needs, and by the recognition that ethics and morality can change among different societies and that acceptance of such values need not depend on religion.”

(Evolution by Monroe, W. Strickberger (3rd ed., Jones & Bartlett, 2000), pg. 70-71)

“Nothing consciously chooses what is selected. Nature is not a conscious agent who chooses what will be selected. … There is no long term goal, for nothing is involved that could conceive of a goal.”

(Evolution: An Introduction by Stephen C. Stearns & Rolf F. Hoeckstra, pg. 30 (2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 2005).)

“[A]s E.O. Wilson puts it, a chicken is really the chicken genes’ way of making more copies of themselves. … [A]s an evolutionary biologist I believe that in some sense we exist solely to propagate the genes within us.”

(Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach, by John Alcock, pgs 16, 609 (Sinauer Associates, Inc, 1998).)

[…] tried to make a case for ideological bias among evolutionary scientists by referencing a 2006 Gil Dodgen post, in which numerous authors emphasise the lack of teleology within the evolutionary process. I […] Teleology | The Skeptical Zone
I know this has been heard/read plenty of times, but it's never too late to say it again: If it hadn't been for the religious implications of Darwinism, that theory would have been erased from biology books decades ago. It still survives because there is no other 100% naturalistic theory for the origin and diversification of the biosphere. Mats
A word to those who criticize Darwinisn and its perceived effects. I understand your concern, especially as it affects young people in high school. But, I don't think a goal like teaching both sides (teach the controvery) is going to be allowed. I think that Phillip Johnson has stated as much. BUT, a reasonable and possible goal is to make high school textbooks metaphysically neutral. For instance, if the term random can be misunderstood, then why not drop it altogether and just speak of mutations. The words "undirected" and "purposeless" should be dropped. These are metaphysical words. Textbooks could speak of how living organisms have the ability to change in response to environmental pressures, or just change period, and then teach mechanisms with a caveat that our knowledge of these mechanisms is limited but growing. Statements about differences of opinion in these matters in the scientific community could be discussed but also mention that this is the nature of science and how knowledge is advanced. There is a way to teach what we know and not use words which shape the mind in any direction regarding the ultimate questions. I think the ID movement would find some allies in the scientific community if this was a stated goal. bj
[...] This is partly from an article on the uncommondecent site, which I made comments on. Only my own comments are here. The article quotes from various school biology text books. [...] Is there purpose in Darwinian life? « Reasons
It seems rather confusing that here we have this article showing what's in the bio-books stating that there is no purpose but self propagation (i.e. selfishness) and no goals or direction in life, and at the same time we have another article called "Darwin Loves you" wherein the author attempts to banish all these ideas and give Darwinism some "purposeful" credibility. And this just happens to concur with creationist/ID camp's having exposed the clear metaphysics involved! Coincidince? I don't think so. They've been exposed. So the high priests of Darwinian fundamentalism and are now rushing to save the precious theory, once again, from inevitable public disaster seeking to reconcile it again to reason and common sense. Glaring contradictions abound in the postmodern mindset indeed. When will these people awaken from their dream? Sometimes I fear it will take another world war before the consequences of this atheistic Darwinian intellectual suicide are realized. Borne
So, all of evolution is purposeless, heartless, blind, and continues “only if the cosmic dice continues to roll in its favor.” Evolution doesn’t prefer, consider, care, or love. The elegance of our physical bodies is the “appearance of design;” “all mental and spiritual phenomena are [evolution’s] by-products.” And while I would still disagree with it, I could respect the view if one—even one—of the proponents of this view actually lived in a way that was remotely consistent with its presuppositions. If even one would conclude that he is just as purposeless and meaningless and the system that made him, upon which he is entirely and inescapably dependent. If his own concerns were just chemical reactions; if his own intellect was a mere “mass of evolving neurons.” But the fact is that no one does. Not one. These, in a great twist of irony (and hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance…), are somehow able to turn on a dime, and claim that their lives, their research, their relationships (pick what you want…) are meaningful, significant and important! The Titanic upon which we have all been placed is hollow, directionless, vacuous and rudderless, but I can still find “meaning and purpose” in re-arranging the deck chairs! Balderdash. The view is as vacuous as it is patronizing. SteveB
I suppose I could be called a religious agnostic. I'm certainly agnostic on ID being science. I think that creation science is incorrect. BUT, one thing all of these movements do is try to keep SOME scientists honest. There is a metaphysical line which is crossed and not acknowledged in some of these textbook quotes. In fact, that line is crossed so easily by all of us. You look at the natural world. Some instantly think of a higher power. Some think the data doesn't support such a view. When we make these judgements, we have taken the data and made a metaphysical judgment. It happens very quickly and early. Scientists do the same. Some look at the data and make judgements about ultimate reality and then put those judgements in the textbooks. Words like random, unguided, undirected, can be misunderstood. Even if Darwinists have it exactly right, evolution has "created" many products. Natural selection as a guiding force can be considered teleological. And then there's the question of who made the "evolution machine". Randomness can be seen in the context of overall purpose. I hope we are coming to a time when the writers of textbooks, especially those used in public schools, will think long and hard about just how they present their material. I remember Jack Webb in Dragnet saying "just give me the facts maam". Then, all of us can make our own metaphysical commitments. bj
Borne wrote: Again, as CS Lewis so aptly said, “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…” True. In fact, as someone else metaphysically said: “who recognizes the illusion, is not illusory”. Moreover who says “all has no meaning” is self-contradicting because that would involve his agnostic proposition too. niwrad
I seem to remember that Ken Miller did some backtracking on a textbook co-authored with Joseph Levine, specifically on the "no plan or purpose" statements. As I remember, Levine is said to have put that in without Miller's knowledge/approval. Maybe someone else knows more. russ
Hello! My comments are not showing up. Have I been blocked?
Le* sigh... Why is that everyone thinks they're blocked or banned when their comments don't immediately show? :P More seriously, mods usually make a comment when someone has been banned. French sighs are more sophisticated, don't you know. Patrick
It is the Evo PR machine like the NCSE that is cautioning book publishers to keep what everyone believes about the implications of naturalistic evolutionary theory secret from young children. idnet.com.au
Most of these comments are from past editions no longer being used. So the effect of the ID pr machine may be responsible for reducing the most egregious claims. jerry
Hello! My comments are not showing up. Have I been blocked? Borne
"I believe that in some sense we exist solely to propagate the genes within us." This, of course, brings back to the table the underlying implications of such nonsense - rape, for example, is a biological adaptation to this end - so is every thing else including murder. Darwinists may try, as some still erringly and vainly do, to get out of it but there is no way out. Not using reason. If this "gene propagation as sole purpose" is true then a pertinent question forces it's way to the front - WHY? Why should we exist in the 1st place? Why should we "propagate the genes"? To what end? Why should humans, or anything else for that matter, *survive* at all? According to all the above quotes, to no end whatsoever. Survival for survival's sake! What a bore! Again, as CS Lewis so aptly said, "Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..." and : "If naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes...it cuts its own throat." This is self-evident. Unfortunately, the atheistic Darwinist camp is incapable of seeing this. They have been brainwashed by years of Darwinist propaganda - everywhere - and thus are in serious need of de-programming! Ex: I once asked a Darwinist/atheist that if there were no absolutes, no ultimate truths, no real purpose then "2+2 does not always necessarily = 4?". He replied, "exactly". And he was "absolutely" sure! A strange form of intellectualized insanity follows. This man is an IT pro who necessarily relies on math to accomplish his day to day job! But in his mind 2+2 may equal something other than 4 somehow, somewhere over the rainbow. Thankfully he lives in a happy contradiction between reality and his own ideas - applying math *as though it were true* inspite of himself! This is the postmodern dilema/contradiction and it leads the society that adheres to this sophism, to intellectualized, virtual insanity. "If it's true, then it can't be true". In this sorry view, there is no answer and we should not be seeking one. Reason itself slowly dies and is replaced by any idiocy you please - such as the above inane citations from the bio-text authors (based on this bizarre relativist metaphysic). I've been noting the decline of true reason in the public for a while now. It's frightening to see the erroneous, faulty logic that more and more people use in public. Like the pedophile who was interviewed on a major US TV network who was working hard to get sexual relations between men and little boys legalized. He spoke easily and without the slightest inclination to shame and when challenged on the morality of it, began whining about the purposeless universe where there are no absolutes etc... and thus there was no right or wrong involved! "Who are you to claim this is wrong?!" From the atheistic stance there was no contradicting him! For as Provine displayed, "There are no ultimate foundations for ethics", no free will and all is biologically pre-programmed by our genes!! All is thus purely subjective and no objective values can exist - not under these anserine schemes wherein Darwinism plays a major role and gene propagation is the sole ulimatum! I fear that a major "outbreak" of mental illness will ensue as a result of the flight from absolutes. A flight into chaos - moral and mental. When you see sophists defending the bio-origins of rape - like Thornhill - it's time to wake up and smell the poison. But Thornhill and cie, are merely taking Darwinism to it's logical ends! F. Shaeffer's "death of reason" is at our doorsteps and becoming more visible each passing year. And Darwinism is this new follys' "science" - it doesn't matter how ludicrous the explanations are - it must be thus because the postmodern anti-absolute mindset requires it. To say the contrary threatens the whole relativist/darwinist edifice. No prupose but gene propagation? What a boring, useless, feckless mindset! No wonder the "Darwinist culture" states are all off the wall endlessly seeking sexual satisfaction! It's all over the TV's, movies etc. and the racks of porn mags in every store just keep growing and getting more explicit and perverse each year! Time for a radical change! "Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish." - CS Lewis Borne

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