Quotes on Evolution
Words, I will argue, are the best example of memes, culturally transmitted items that evolve by differential replication—that is, by natural selection.
Life is a continuous flux. Our nonhuman ancestors bred, generation after generation, and incrementally begat what we now deem to be the species homo sapiens - ourselves. There is nothing about our ancestral line or about our current biology that dictates how we will evolve in the future. Nothing in the natural order demands that our descendants resemble us in any particular way. Very likely, they will not resemble us. We will almost certainly transform ourselves, likely beyond recognition, in the generations to come.
Darwin's idea of natural selection makes people uncomfortable because it reverses the direction of tradition.
To put it bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant—inexcusably ignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write.
But the newest research is showing that many properties of the brain are genetically organized, and don't depend on information coming in from the senses.
Evolution has long been badly taught. In particular, students - and even professional biologists - acquire theories of evolution without any deep understanding of what problem these theories attempt to solve. They learn but little of the evolution of evolutionary theory.
Americans are notoriously ill-informed about evolution. A recent Gallup poll (June 1993) discovered that 47 percent of adult Americans believe that Homo sapiens is a species created by God less than ten thousand years ago.
Just as blueprints don't necessarily specify blue buildings, selfish genes don't necessarily specify selfish organisms. As we shall see, sometimes the most selfish thing a gene can do is build a selfless brain. Genes are a play within a play, not the interior monologue of the players.