Natural Selection

"One of the arguments of the creationists is that no one has ever seen the forces of evolution at work. That would seem the most nearly irrefutable of their arguments, and yet it, too, is wrong. In fact, if any confirmation of Darwinism were needed, it has turned up in examples of natural selection that have taken place before our eyes (now that we know what to watch for). A notable example occurred in Darwin’s native land. In England, it seems, the peppered moth exists in two varieties, a light and a dark."—*Isaac Asimov, Asimov’s New Guide to Science (1984), p. 780.

"The [peppered moth] experiments beautifully demonstrate natural selection—or survival of the fittest—in action, but they do not show evolution in progress, for however the populations may alter in their content of light, intermediate, or dark forms, all the moths remain from beginning to end Biston betularia."—*Harrison Matthews, "Introduction," to Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species (1971 edition), p. xi.

"This is an excellent demonstration of the function of camouflage; but, since it begins and ends with peppered moths and no new species is formed, it is quite irrelevant as evidence for evolution."—On Call, July 2, 1973, p. 9.

"We doubt, however, that anything more is involved in these cases than the selection of already existing genes."—*Fred Hoyle and *Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (1981), p. 5.

"The recent work of H.B.D. Kettlewell on industrial melanism has certainly confirmed the hypothesis that natural selection takes place in nature. This is the story of the black mutant of the common peppered moth which, as Kettlewell has shown with beautiful precision, increases in numbers in the vicinity of industrial centers and decreases, being more easily exposed to predators, in rural areas. Here, say the neo-Darwinians, is natural selection, that is, evolution, actually going on. But to this we may answer: selection, yes; the color of moths or snails or mice is clearly controlled by visibility to predators; but ‘evolution’? Do these observations explain how in the first place there came to be any moths or snails or mice at all? By what right are we to extrapolate the pattern by which color or other such superficial characters are governed to the origin of species, let alone of classes, orders, phyla of living organisms?"—Marjorie Grene, "The Faith of Darwinism," Encounter, November 1959, p. 52. (postscript to the peppered moth story - peppard moths do not alight on the sides of trees. The "research photos" were of dead moths pasted on the sides of trees)

"Other sports . . as such variations are called, have produced hornless cattle, short-legged sheep, ‘double’ flowers, and new varieties of seeds."—*World Book Encyclopedia (1972 edition), Vol. 6, p. 332.

"In fact the belief in Natural Selection must at present be grounded entirely on general considerations [faith and theorizing] . . When we descend to details, we can prove that no one species has changed . . nor can we prove that the supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork for the theory. Nor can we explain why some species have changed and others have not."—*Charles Darwin, letter to Jeremy Bentham, in Francis Darwin (ed.), Charles Darwin, Life & Letters, Vol. 3, p. 25.

"Domestic and wild animals have produced interesting and sometimes useful (to man) hybrids. Successful crosses have been made between cattle and bison (‘beefalo’), turkeys and chickens (‘turkens’) and horses and zebras. Usually, the male offspring of these unions are sterile, and the females are either sterile, show reduced fertility or produce offspring that do not live long."—*R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), p. 231.

"Consider the eye ‘with all its inimitable contrivances,’ as Darwin called them, which can admit different amounts of light, focus at different distances, and correct spherical and chromatic aberration. Consider the retina, consisting of 150 million correctly made and positioned specialized cells. These are the rods [to view black and white] and the cones [to view color]. Consider the nature of light-sensitive retinal [a complex chemical]. Combined with a protein (opsin), retinal becomes a chemical switch. Triggered by light, this switch can generate a nerve impulse . . Each switch-containing rod and cone is correctly wired to the brain so that the electrical storm (an estimated 1000 million impulses per second) is continuously monitored and translated, by a step which is a total mystery, into a mental picture."—*Michael Pitman, Adam and Evolution (1984), p. 215. (what is a Trilobite fossil doing with perfect eye sight in the Cambrian rocks?)

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."—*Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1909 Harvard Classics edition), p. 190.

"The eye appears to have been designed; no designer of telescopes could have done better."—*Robert Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe (1981), p. 98.

"Evolution cannot be described as a process of adaptation because all organisms are already adapted . . Adaptation leads to natural selection, natural selection does not necessarily lead to greater adaptation."—*Lewontin, "Adaptation," in Scientific American, September 1978.

" ‘Natural selection operates essentially to enable the organisms to maintain their state of adaptation rather than to improve it.’ ‘Natural selection over the long run does not seem to improve a species’ chances of survival, but simply enables it to track, or keep up with, the constantly changing environment.’ "—*Ibid.

"If by selection we concentrate the genes acting in a certain direction, and produce a sub-population which differs from the original one by greater development of some character we are interested in (such as higher milk yield or production of eggs), we almost invariably find that the sub-population has simultaneously become less fit and would be eliminated by natural selection."—*C. H. Waddington, "The Resistance to Evolutionary Change," in Nature, 175 (1955) p. 51.

"How could the existence of a distinct species be justified by a theory [evolution] that proclaimed ceaseless change as the most fundamental fact of nature?"—*Stephen Jay Gould, in Natural History, August-September 1979.

"[The many problems] make the whole rigmarole seem downright maladaptive. Yet it is common, while asexual reproduction is rare . . The origin of sex remains one of the most challenging questions in [evolutionary] biology.

"Even Charles Darwin thought natural selection could not account for peacocks’ tails or similar fantastic structures so prominent in courtship displays. On the contrary, elaborate appendages or tail feathers could easily get in the way when animals had to escape enemies . . Still, if elaborate plumage makes the birds more vulnerable to predators, why should evolution favor them?"—*R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), pp. 402-404.

"And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind . . great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind . . the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind."—Genesis 1:12, 21, 25.

"Species do indeed have a capacity to undergo minor modifications in their physical and other characteristics, but this is limited and with a longer perspective it is reflected in an oscillation about a mean [average]."—*Roger Lewin, "Evolutionary Theory Under Fire," in Science, November 21, 1980, p. 884.

"Comparing the statistics of the two groups, he found the measurements of the birds that survived were closer to the mean of the group than were those of the birds that died. This type of mortality, where extremes are eliminated, is referred to as balanced phenotype, or stabilizing selection . . Even today, ‘Bumpus’ Sparrows continue to be quoted in about five published scientific articles every year."—*R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), p. 61.

"Breeders usually find that after a few generations, an optimum is reached beyond which further improvement is impossible, and there has been no new species formed . . Breeding procedures, therefore, would seem to refute, rather than support evolution."—On Call, July 3, 1972, pp. 9.

"It leads to the justifiable criticism that the concept of natural selection is scientifically superficial. T.H. Morgan, famous American geneticist, said that the idea of natural selection is a tautology, a case of circular reasoning. It goes something like this: If something cannot succeed, it will not succeed. Or, to put it another way, those things which have succeeded were able to succeed."—Lester J. McCann, Blowing the Whistle on Darwinism (1986), p. 49.

"For them [the Darwinists], natural selection is a tautology which states a heretofore unrecognized relation: The fittest—defined as those who will leave the most offspring—will leave the most offspring."—*Gregory Alan Peasely, "The Epistemological Status of Natural Selection," Laval Theologique et Philosophique, Vol. 38, February 1982, p. 74.

"I tend to agree with those who have viewed natural selection as a tautology rather than a true theory."—*S. Stanley, Macroevolution (1979), p. 193.

"Natural selection turns out on closer inspection to be tautology, a statement of an inevitable although previously unrecognized relation. It states that the fittest individuals in a population (defined as those which leave the most offspring) will leave the most offspring."—*C. Waddington, "Evolutionary Adaptation," in Evolution After Darwin (1960), Vol. 1, pp. 381, 385.

"Thus we have as the question: ‘why do some multiply, while others remain stable, dwindle, or die out? To which is offered as answer: Because some multiply, while others remain stable, dwindle, or die out. "The two sides of the equation are the same. We have a tautology. The definition is meaningless."—*Norman Macbeth, Darwin Retried (1971), p. 47.

"[*George Gaylord Simpson says:] ‘I . . define selection, a technical term in evolutionary studies, as anything tending to produce systematic, heritable change in population between one generation and the nex’ " [*G.G. Simpson, Major Features of Evolution (1953), p. 138].

"But is such a broad definition of any use? We are trying to explain what produces change. Simpson’s explanation is natural selection, which he defines as what produces change. Both sides of the equation are again the same; again we have a tautology . . If selection is anything tending to produce change, he is merely saying that change is caused by what causes change . . The net explanation is nil."—*Norman Macbeth, Darwin Retried (1971), p. 49.


"Of one thing, however, I am certain, and that is that ‘natural selection’ affords no explanation of mimicry or of any other form of evolution. It means nothing more than ‘the survivors survive.’ Why do certain individuals survive? Because they are the fittest. How do we know they are the fittest? Because they survive."—*E.W.

MacBride, Nature, May 11, 1929, p. 713.

"I think the phrase [natural selection] is utterly empty. It doesn’t describe anything. The weaker people die, a lot of stronger people die too, but not the same percentage. If you want to say that is natural selection, maybe so, but that’s just describing a process. That process would presumably go on until the last plant, animal and man died out."—*Norman Macbeth, "What’s Wrong with Darwinism" (1982), [paleontologist, American Museum].