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Quotations about Religion and Freethought

Evolution

  1. Evolution is both fact and theory. Creationism is neither. [Anonymous]

  2. The fundamentalists deny that evolution has taken place; they deny that the earth and the universe as a whole are more than a few thousand years old, and so on. There is ample scientific evidence that the fundamentalists are wrong in these matters, and that their notions of cosmogony have about as much basis in fact as the Tooth Fairy has. [Isaac Asimov, quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt, by James A. Haught, Prometheus Books, 1996]

  3. The proper place for the study of religious beliefs is in a church or temple, at home, or in a course on comparative religions, but not in a biology class. There is no place in our world for an ideology that seeks to close minds, force obedience, and return the world to a paradise that never was. Students should learn that the universe can be confronted and understood, that ideas and authority should be questioned, that an open mind is a good thing. Education does not exist to confirm people's superstitions, and children do not learn to think when they are fed only dogma." [Tim Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism]

  4. Fundamentalists long for the return of a more moral America, an America that may never have been. All around them they see what they perceive as declining morality and spirituality. They reason that if humans share ancestry with the other animals, we have no reason to behave as anything other than animals. This view neglects the fact that humans are the only known animals with the ability to contemplate the consequences of their own actions. It also fails to recognize that there is a great deal of good in the world, the nightly news notwithstanding. Crime existed long before the theory of evolution, even before the writing of the Bible, and biologists do not like crime any more than the creationists do. Evolutionary theory is not a license to run amok, and neither is a belief in the literal interpretation of the Bible a guarantor of moral behavior. [Tim Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism]

  5. No myth of miraculous creation is so marvelous as the face of man's evolution. [Robert Briffault (1876-1948) Rational Education,1930]

  6. U.S. Adults (Gallup): humans didn't evolve, 46 percent; evolution guided by God, 40; evolution occurred by itself, 10 percent. [Quoted by Adam L. Carley, Free Inquiry, Fall 1994]

  7. Religious fundamentalists alone are a huge popular grouping in the United States, which resembles pre-industrial societies in that regard. This is a culture in which three-fourths of the population believe in religious miracles, half believe in the devil, 83 percent believe that the Bible is the 'actual' or the inspired word of God, 39 percent believe in the Biblical prediction of Armageddon and 'accept it with a certain fatalism,' a mere 9 percent accept Darwinian evolution while 44 percent believe that 'God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years,' and so on. The 'God and Country rally' that opened the national Republican convention is one remarkable illustration, which aroused no little amazement in conservative circles in Europe. [Noam Chomsky, "'Mandate for Change,' or Business as Usual," Z Magazine, February 1993, pp. 32-33]

  8. If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools and next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers... Ignorance and fanaticism are ever busy and need feeding. Always feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers; tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lecturers, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, Your Honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth centry when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind. [Clarence Darrow, at the Scopes Monkey Trial, 1925]

  9. I suspect the reason is that most people [...] have a residue of feeling that Darwinian evolution isn't quite big enough to explain everything about life. All I can say as a biologist is that the feeling disappears progressively the more you read about and study what is known about life and evolution.

    I want to add one thing more. The more you understand the significance of evolution, the more you are pushed away from the agnostic position and towards atheism. Complex, statistically improbable things are by their nature more difficult to explain than simple, statistically probable things." [Richard Dawkins, from the New Humanist, the Journal of the Rationalist Press Association, Vol 107 No 2]

  10. The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. [Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1987), p. 317]

  11. Telegraph: For God to create the universe he would have to be hyper- intelligent. But intelligence only evolves over time. Is that about the strength of it?

    Dawkins: It's worse than that, the argument for God starts by assuming what it is attempting to explain -- intelligence, complexity, it comes to the same thing -- and so it explains nothing. God is a non-explanation. Whereas evolution by natural selection /is/ an explanation. It really does start simply and become complex.[Sunday Telegraph (UK) interview with Richard Dawkins, Sept. 26, 1999]

  12. Evolution should be one of the first things you learn at school... and what do they [children] get instead? Sacred hearts and incense. Shallow, empty religion. [Sunday Telegraph (UK) interview with Richard Dawkins, Sept. 26, 1999]

  13. Let me try to make crystal clear what is established beyond reasonable doubt, and what needs further study, about evolution. Evolution as a process that has always gone on in the history of the earth can be doubted only by those who are ignorant of the evidence or are resistant to evidence, owing to emotional blocks or to plain bigotry. By contrast, the mechanisms that bring evolution about certainly need study and clarification. There are no alternatives to evolution as history that can withstand critical examination. Yet we are constantly learning new and important facts about evolutionary mechanisms." [Theodosius Dobzhansky "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution", American Biology Teacher vol.35 (March 1973) reprinted in EVOLUTION VERSUS CREATIONISM, J. Peter Zetterberg ed., ORYX Press, Phoenix AZ 1983]

  14. Evolution does not require the nonexistance of God, it merely allows for it. That alone is enough to evoke condemnation from those who fear the nonexistance of God more than they fear God Himself. [Keith Doyle, talk.origins posting]

  15. Geology shows that fossils are of different ages. Paleontology shows a fossil sequence, the list of species represented changes through time. Taxonomy shows biological relationships among species. Evolution is the explanation that threads it all together. Creationism is the practice of squeeezing one's eyes shut and wailing "does not!. [Dr.Pepper@f241.n103.z1.fidonet.org]

  16. Creationist critics often charge that evolution cannot be tested, and therefore cannot be viewed as a properly scientific subject at all. This claim is rhetorical nonsense." [Stephen Jay Gould, Dinosaur in a Haystack]

  17. Our creationist detractors charge that evolution is an unproved and unprovable charade-- a secular religion masquerading as science. They claim, above all, that evolution generates no predictions, never exposes itself to test, and therefore stands as dogma rather than disprovable science. This claim is nonsense. We make and test risky predictions all the time; our success is not dogma, but a highly probable indication of evolution's basic truth." [Stephen Jay Gould, Dinosaur in a Haystack]

  18. The argument that the literal story of Genesis can qualify as science collapses on three major grounds: the creationists' need to invoke miracles in order to compress the events of the earth's history into the biblical span of a few thousand years; their unwillingness to abandon claims clearly disproved, including the assertion that all fossils are products of Noah's flood; and their reliance upon distortion, misquote, half-quote, and citation out of context to characterize the ideas of their opponents. [Stephen Jay Gould, "The Verdict on Creationism", The Skeptical Inquirer, Winter 87/88, pg. 186]

  19. As in 1925, creationists are not battling for religion. They have been disowned by leading church men of all persuasions, for they debase religion even more than they misconstrue science. They are a motley collection to be sure, but their core of practical support lies with the evangelical right, and creationism is a mere stalking horse or subsidiary issue in a political program...The enemy is not fundamentalism; it is intolerance. In this case, the intolerance is perverse since it masquerades under the 'liberal' rhetoric of 'equal time'. [Stephen J Gould]

  20. Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof. [Ashley Montagu]

  21. The fundamentalists, by 'knowing' the answers before they start (examining evolution), and then forcing nature into the straitjacket of their discredited preconceptions, lie outside the domain of science---or of any honest intellectual inquiry." [Stephen Jay Gould, Bully for Brontosaurus, 1990, quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt, by James A. Haught, Prometheus Books, 1996]

  22. If we are going to teach 'creation science' as an alternative to evolution, then we should also teach the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction. [Judith Hayes]

  23. It is time for students of the evolutionary process, especially those who have been misquoted and used by the creationists, to state clearly that evolution is a FACT, not theory, and that what is at issue within biology are questions of details of the process and the relative importance of different mechanisms of evolution. [R. C. Lewontin "Evolution/Creation Debate: A Time for Truth" Bioscience 31, 559 (1981) reprinted in EVOLUTION VERSUS CREATIONISM]

  24. Creationism was created. Evolution evolves. [John Nicholson]

  25. We are convinced the masses of evidence render the application of the concept of evolution to man and the other primates beyond serious dispute. [Pontifical Academy of Sciences]

  26. I'm an evolutionist because I judge the evidence for the unity of life by common descent over billions of years to be overwhelming, not so that I can cheat on my wife or kick the cat with impunity. I live in no hope of heaven or fear of hell, but like most of my fellow Americans of all religious persuasions, I try to live a decent life. Folks like Tom DeLay just can't get it through their heads that a person can choose to live ethically because civilized life requires doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. [Chet Raymo, science columnist for The Boston Globe, Sept. 5 1999 article on the anti-evolution decision by Kansas School Board]

  27. They [the Creationists] have been getting away with this nonsense [Creation Science] for some time now, even to the extent of getting legislation passed to allow them to teach "creationism" side by side with evolution. The true scientific community has largely remained within its hallowed halls rather than storming out into the quadrangle to do battle with what it knows to be pure nonsense. Scientists, unlike religionists, are political neophytes and generally remain oblivious to the issue of religion. Average Americans are not willing, nor intellectually mature enough, to handle such heady stuff as questioning any religion except upon tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee issues. Undoubtedly, this results from living under a Constitution which, in its consummate fairness in not favoring one religion above another, has made attacks on religion nearly needless and obsolete. But in the First Amendment's success lies a great danger to our liberties. If we never question our religions or their motives, they will ultimately destroy our freedom to do so. [William H. Reynolds, Creationism: The Fossil Record and the Flood]

  28. (When asked merely if they accept evolution, 45 percent of Americans say yes. The figure is 70 percent in China.) When the movie "Jurassic Park" was shown in Israel, it was condemned by some Orthodox rabbis because it accepted evolution and because it taught that dinosaurs lived a hundred million years ago--when, as is plainly stated at every Rosh Hashonhan and every Jewish wedding ceremony, the Universe is less than 6,000 years old." [Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, p. 325]

  29. Louisiana's [1981] creationism law, which requires creationism to be taught wherever the theory of evolution is explained, is unconstitutional, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.... 'The act's intended effect is to discredit evolution by counterbalancing its teaching at every turn with the teaching of creationism, a religious belief,' the U.S. Court of Appeals said. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9 July 1985 (AP)]

  30. Seventy-two American winners of the Nobel Prize in science urged the Supreme Court yesterday to strike down a Louisiana law requiring public schools teaching evolution to also teach creationism. ...Creation-science is linked closely to a literal interpretation of the biblical book of Genesis, teaching that Earth and most of its life forms came into existence suddenly about 6000 years ago. ...The case before the high court is Edwards v. Aguillard,85-1513. [San Francisco Chronicle, 19 August 1986 (AP)]

  31. Today, the theory of evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are based not on reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles. [Dr. James D. Watson, winner of the Nobel prize for his co-discovery of the structure of DNA]

  32. The Religious Right aren't, and Scientific Creationism isn't. [Anonymous]

  33. Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night. [Isaac Asimov]

  34. I would defend the liberty of concenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent. [Arthur C. Clarke]

  35. I have encountered a few "creationists" and because they were usually nice, intelligent people, I have been unable to decide whether they were _really_ mad, or only pretending to be mad. If I was a religious person, I would consider creationism nothing less than blasphemy. Do its adherents imagine that God is a cosmic hoaxer who has created that whole vast fossil record for the sole purpose of misleading mankind? [Arthur C. Clarke, June 5, 1998, in the essay "Presidents, Experts, and Asteroids," pp 1532-3]

  36. There is no 'Complete Idiots Guide to Creationism,' but perhaps one is not needed. [Andrei Codrescu, on NPR Aug. 25, 1999, monologue on the "Complete Idiot" and "For Dummies" books]

  37. Thus the creationist's favourite question "What is the use of half an eye?" Actually, this is a lightweight question, a doddle to answer. Half an eye is just 1 per cent better than 49 per cent of an eye..." [Richard Dawkins]

  38. It is, therefore, our unequivocal conclusion that creationism, with its accounts of the origin of life by supernatural means, is not science." ["Science and Creationism", National Academy Press, 1984]





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