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Section 3: Quotations from Scientists

Science, Religion, Creation and Evolution

Is Evolution Reproducible?

Theodosius Dobzhansky, American Scientist, Vol. 45, 1957, p. 388.

On the other hand, it is manifestly impossible to reproduce in the laboratory the evolution of man from the australopithecine, or of the modern horse from an Eohippus, or of a land vertebrate from a fish-like ancestor. These evolutionary happenings are unique, unrepeatable, and irreversible. It is as impossible to turn a land vertebrate into a fish as it is to effect the reverse transformation. The applicability of the experimental method to the study of such unique historical processes is severely restricted before all else by the time intervals involved, which far exceed the lifetime of any human experimenter. And yet it is just such impossibility that is demanded by antievolutionists when they ask for "proofs" of evolution which they would magnanimously accept as satisfactory. This is about as unreasonable a demand as it would be to ask an astronomer to recreate the planetary system, or to ask an historian to reenact the history of the world from Caesar to Eisenhower.

Jacques Monod in Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, F.J. Ayala and T. Dobzhansky, editors (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1974), p.363.

...So it seems to me that as far as being falsifiable in principle the modern theory of evolution is falsifiable. That it is extraordinarily difficult to put it to actual experimental test, as opposed to observational test, is of course due to the immense amounts of time involved.

Everett C. Olson, Evolution After Darwin, Vol. 1, Sol Tax, editor (University of Chicago Press, 1960), p.531.

...This may be further generalized, to the effect that there is no known way of attacking experimentally some of the areas in which doubts of the sufficiency of the synthetic theory arise--areas, for example, not subject to analysis because of the time factor.

Ibid., p. 536.

...The efforts to bridge the gap leave a real feeling of remoteness at the operational level and in many cases a feeling that the explanation of genetics and selection are not significantly applicable to some of the types of phenomena observed in much of the fossil record.

Ibid., p. 537.

...the important element of testing by experimentation is not possible with fossil materials.

W.R. Thompson, Introduction to The Origin of Species (E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1956).

...History in the strict sense is dependent on human testimony. Since this is not available with respect to the development of the world of life we must be satisfied with something less satisfactory. The only evidence available is that provided by the fossils.

Ronald Good, Features of Evolution in the Flowering Plants (Longmans, Green and Sons, London, 1956), p. 2.

The fundamental inherent difficulty in the study of evolution is that this great natural process involves time dimensions of a magnitude quite out of proportion to the duration of human life or even to the sum of human experience, and the observer has therefore to rely on indirect, or circumstantial evidence. ...

Martin Lings, Ancient Beliefs and Modern Superstitions (Perennial Books, London, 1964), p. 4.

The French biologist Professor Louis Bounoure quotes Yves Delage, a former Sorbonne Professor of Zoology: `I readily admit that no species has ever been known to engender another, and that there is no absolutely definite evidence that such a thing has ever taken place...'

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