You can never pinpoint the exact moment that a species came to be, because it never did. Just like how you used to be a baby and now you're older, but there was no single day when you went to bed young and woke up old. (...) There was no first human. It sounds like a paradox, it sounds like it breaks the whole theory of evolution, but it's really a key to truly understanding how evolution works. Evolution happens like a movie, with frames moving by both quickly and gradually, and we often can't see the change while it's occurring. Every time we find a fossil, it's a snapshot back in time, often with thousands of frames missing in between, and we're forced to reconstruct the whole film. Life is what happens in between the snapshots. Instead of a nice smooth road this is a journey on stepping stones and we give each one their own name.
Darwin`s idea of evolution by natural selection is, in my opinion, the single best idea that anybody has ever had, because in a single bold stroke it unites meaning with matter, two aspects of reality that appear to be worlds apart. On one side, we have the world of our minds and their meanings, our goals, our hopes, and our yearnings, and that most honored - and hackneyed - of all philosophical topics, the Meaning of Life. On the other side, we have galaxies ceaselessly wheeling, planets falling pointlessly into their orbits, lifeless chemical mechanisms doing what physics ordains, all without purpose or reason. Then Darwin comes along and shows us how the former arises from the latter, creating meaning as it goes, a bubble-up vision of the birth of importance to overthrow the trickle-down vision of tradition.
It is estimated that well over 99 percent of all the organisms that have ever lived have died without having had offspring. And yet here you are: of all your billions of ancestors over the years, from single cells to worms to fish to reptiles to mammals to primates, not a single one of them died childless. How lucky you are! Of course every blade of grass has an equally long and proud heritage, and every mosquito, and every elephant and every daisy.
Evolution results in better answers, not necessarily more complicated ones.
The first law of ecology: everything is connected to everything else.
Instinct is a marvellous thing, [...] It can neither be explained nor ignored.
Species evolve only to meet the pressures of new environments. In a stable environment, a species may remain unchanged for millions of Centuries. Primitive man evolved rapidly because his environment was a harsh and changing one. Once, however, mankind learned to create his own environment, he created a pleasant and stable one, so he just naturally stopped evolving.
It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.
We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection, although human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution.
I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
Mutation is random; natural selection is the very opposite of random.
DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.
We are glorious accidents of an unpredictable process with no drive to complexity, not the expected results of evolutionary principles that yearn to produce a creature capable of understanding the mode of its own necessary construction.