George Gaylord Simpson quotes

  • The fact -- not theory -- that evolution has occurred and the Darwinian theory as to how it occurred have become so confused in popular opinion that the distinction must be stressed.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Confused #Stressed #Facts

  • Man stands alone in the universe, a unique product of a long, unconscious, impersonal, material process with unique understanding and potentialities. These he owes to no one but himself, and it is to himself that he is responsible. He is not the creature of uncontrollable and undeterminable forces, but is his own master. He can and must decide and manage his own destiny.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Unique #Destiny #Men

  • If a sect does officially insist that its structure of belief demands that evolution be false, then no compromise is possible. An honest and competent biology teacher can only conclude that the sect's beliefs are wrong and that its religion is a false one.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Teacher #Doe #Demand

  • Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Animal #Men #Order

  • Almost all paleontologists recognize that the discovery of a complete transition is in any case unlikely.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Discovery #Transition #Unlikely

  • A rill in a barnyard and the Grand Canyon represent, in the main, stages of valley erosion that began some millions of years apart.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Erosion #Years #Valleys

  • Recognition of this kinship with the rest of the universe is necessary for understanding him, but his essential nature is defined by qualities found nowhere else, not by those he has in common with apes, fishes, trees, fire, or anything other than himself.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Fire #Tree #Understanding

  • I don't know where to put whales. I'm sticking them here, but I don't have any reason for it.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Whales #Reason

  • Splitting and gradual divergence of genera is exemplified very well and in a large variety of organisms.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Wells #Splitting #Variety

  • Certainly paleontologists have found samples of an extremely small fraction, only, of the earth's extinct species, and even for groups that are most readily preserved and found as fossils they can never expect to find more than a fraction.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Groups #Earth #Fossils

  • Most of the dogmatic religions have exhibited a perverse talent for taking the wrong side on the most important concepts in the material universe, from the structure of the solar system to the origin of man.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Men #Important #Sides

  • It is now firmly established that ontogeny does not repeat phylogeny
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Doe

  • The earliest and most primitive known members of every order already have the basic ordinal characters, and in no case is an approximately continuous sequence from one order to another known. In most cases the break is so sharp and the gap so large that the origin of the order is speculative and much disputed.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Character #Order #Gaps

  • The meaning that we are seeking in evolution is its meaning to us, to man. The ethics of evolution must be human ethics. It is one of the many unique qualities of man, the new sort of animal, that he is the only ethical animal. The ethical need and its fulfillment are also products of evolution, but they have been produced in man alone.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Animal #Unique #Men

  • It remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of families, appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual completely continuous transitional sequences.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Records #Levels #Evolution

  • I have a debt, a loyalty to the museum; the best place for me to do what I wanted to do.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Loyalty #Museums #Debt

  • It is inherent in any definition of science that statements that cannot be checked by observation are not really saying anything or at least they are not science.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Definitions #Evolution #Observation

  • The search for historical laws is, I maintain, mistaken in principle.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Law #History #Historical

  • The science of systematics has long been affected by profound philosophical preconceptions, which have been all the more influential for being usually covert, even subconscious.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Philosophy #Philosophical #Long

  • To put it crudely but graphically, the monkey who did not have a realistic perception of the tree branch he jumped for was soon a dead monkey-and therefore did not become one of our ancestors.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Tree #Perception #Branches

  • Human judgment is notoriously fallible and perhaps seldom more so than in facile decisions that a character has no adaptive significance because we do not know the use of it.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Character #Decision #Use

  • Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Men #Mind #Natural

  • Species evolve exactly as if they were adapting as best they could to a changing world, and not at all as if they were moving toward a set goal.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Moving #Goal #World

  • Man has risen, not fallen. He can choose to develop his capacities as the highest animal and to try to rise still farther, or he can choose otherwise. The choice is his responsibility, and his alone. There is no automatism that will carry him upward without choice or effort and there is no trend solely in the right direction. Evolution has no purpose; man must supply this for himself. The means to gaining right ends involve both organic evolution and human evolution, but human choice as to what are the right ends must be based on human evolution.
    -- George Gaylord Simpson

    #Mean #Responsibility #Men