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Section 3: Quotations from Scientists

Science, Religion, Creation and Evolution

Some Comments on Evolutionary Speculation

M.T. Ghiselin, "Models in Phylogeny," Models in Paleobiology, T.J.M. Schopf, editor (Freeman, Cooper & Co., San Francisco, 1972), p. 131.

...it is true that many works on phylogeny do read like imaginative literature rather than science. A disproportionate segment of the literature seeks to fill gaps in the data with speculations and nothing more.

W.R. Thompson, Studia Entomologica, vol. 3, Dec. 1960, p. 498.

...Though the remark may be regarded as provocative, I must say how far superior the genetic, like the physico-chemical approach to the problems of organic form and therefore of systematics, is, to the conventional speculative approach in terms of evolutionary theory. Genetic analysis, like physico-chemical analysis, belongs to the field of positive science. Evolutionary speculation as it is commonly developed in relation to morphological and systematic problems is only too often at best merely a dressing up of comparative anatomy in such a way as to foster the illusion that we know things we do not know and are never likely to know.

Ledyard Stebbins, "Adaptive Shifts and Evolutionary Novelty," Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, F.J. Ayala and Theodosius Dobzhansky, editors (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1974), p. 298.

This postulated sequence of events [in supposed evolution of plants, editor] is, I admit, highly speculative, and I doubt that firm evidence in favour of it can ever be acquired. Nevertheless, it is plausible, and shows that the origin of a major kingdom of organisms can be explained on the basis of adaptive shifts similar to those that give rise to species and genera.

The problem of the origin of multicellular animals, or Metazoa, is even more difficult and speculative than any of the other problems connected with the early evolution of eucaryotes. This is because not only is there a complete lack of fossil evidence but, in addition, living intermediate forms, which point towards analogous sequences leading to the origin of multicellular algae and fungi, are completely lacking with respect to all phyla of Metazoa, with the possible exception of sponges. Even the question of mono vs polyphyletic origin of Metazoa is by no means settled.

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