Science, as opposed to technology, does violence to common sense.
Beauty arises out of human inspiration.
In the beginning was simplicity.
Personally, I rather look forward to a computer program winning the world chess championship. Humanity needs a lesson in humility.
If saying that religion should be a private matter and should not have special influence in public life is illiberal, then 74% of U.K. Christians are illiberal, too.
The truth is more magical in the best and most exciting sense of the word, than any myth or made-up mystery or miracle. Science has its own magic: the magic of reality.
There is another kind of altruism that seems to go beyond that, a kind of super-altruism, which humans appear to have. And I think that does need a Darwinian explanation.
If you don't know anything about computers, just remember that they are machines that do exactly what you tell them but often surprise you in the result.
It doesn't hurt my feelings when I get vilified by fundamentalist. I've actually made comedy out of it. I've made light of that.
DNA is ROM. It can be read millions of times over, but only written to once -- when it is first assembled the birth of the cell in which it resides.
There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point? The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.
The idea of an afterlife where you can be reunited with loved ones can be immensely consoling though not to me.
Brains function on a need-to-know basis, and the need-to-know in order to survive on the African plains as hunter-gatherers. It's pure bonus if we manage to understand a bit about relativity and quantum theory as well. I think it's a tremendous privilege that we can understand as much as we can.
Biology is the study of the complex things in the Universe. Physics is the study of the simple ones.
The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
We are survival machines -- robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.
We are survival machines -- robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.
It is an essential part of the scientific enterprise to admit ignorance, even to exult in ignorance as a challenge to future conquests.
Genetic modification, like any other kind of modification, is good if you modify in a good direction, bad if you modify in a bad direction.
A largely unrecognized danger of the obsessive hysteria surrounding genetically modified foods is crying wolf. I fear that, if the green movement's high-amplitude warnings over GMOs turn out to be empty, people will be dangerously disinclined to listen to other and more serious warnings.
Who will say with confidence that sexual abuse is more permanently damaging to children than threatening them with the eternal and unquenchable fires of hell?
Regarding the accusations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, deplorable and disgusting as those abuses are, they are not so harmful to the children as the grievous mental harm in bringing up the child Catholic in the first place.
It often turns out on closer inspection that acts of apparent altruism are really selfishness in disguise.
Do you really mean the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward? That's not morality, that's just sucking up.
You don't believe that the Earth is round only if you're an astronaut. You don't believe Napoleon existed only if you're a historian. You believe these things because they're facts, proved by evidence.
The genetic code is not a binary code as in computers, nor an eight-level code as in some telephone systems, but a quaternary code with four symbols. The machine code of the genes is uncannily computerlike.
There are no natural borderlines in evolution. The illusion of a borderline is created by the fact that the evolutionary intermediates happen to be extinct.
I think there could be a very large number who are creationists by default. Those are the people I want to reach.
Just because science so far has failed to explain something, such as consciousness, to say it follows that the facile, pathetic explanations which religion has produced somehow by default must win the argument is really quite ridiculous.
Words are our servants, not our masters. For different purposes, we find it convenient to use words in different senses.
Suppose that there's a gene that makes you gay if you were bottle-fed but that has some completely different effect if you were breast-fed. So in the days before bottles were invented that gene would not have manifested itself as gay behavior, but now that bottles are common it can do so.
There is an attitude in the culture that says that everybody is entitled to their opinion. You got to respect their opinion. No, you damn well haven't got to respect their opinion.
Are science and religion converging? No. There are modern scientists whose words sound religious but whose beliefs, on close examination, turn out to be identical to those of other scientists who straightforwardly call themselves atheists.
In true natural selection, if a body has what it takes to survive, its genes automatically survive because they are inside it. So the genes that survive tend to be, automatically, those genes that confer on bodies the qualities that assist them to survive.
Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order. Evolution has passed this test with flying colours.
Even if not a single fossil has ever been found, the evidence from surviving animals would still overwhelmingly force the conclusion that Darwin was right.
My computer is a very complex gadget and it was designed by many designers, so why must the universe have only a single designer and not many designers?
Earlier than about 10,000 years ago, all human populations were hunter gatherers. Soon, probably none will be. Those not extinct will be 'civilised' -- or corrupted, depending on your point of view.
The illusion of design is so successful that to this day most Americans (including, significantly, many influential and rich Americans) stubbornly refuse to believe it is an illusion.
Anybody who objects to cloning on principle has to answer to all the identical twins in the world who might be insulted by the thought that there is something offensive about their very existence. Clones are simply identical twins.
You can legally lie about the real world to your heart's content, but until some human being is materially damaged, nobody will complain.
I read in the paper today the list of the most popular boys' names in Britain. The first was Jack, the second was Mohammed. That makes me feel a little bit worried.
Our brains have evolved to help us survive within the orders of magnitude of size and speed which our bodies operate at. We never evolved to navigate in the world of atoms.
Science shares with religion the claim that it answers deep questions about origins, the nature of life, and the cosmos. But there the resemblance ends. Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not.
I mean it as a compliment when I say that you could almost define a philosopher as someone who won't take common sense for an answer.
We don't need fossils -- the case for evolution is watertight without them; so it is paradoxical to use gaps in the fossil record as though they were evidence against evolution.
It's known that stress gives rise to disease. It's also known that many diseases, especially stress-related diseases, can be cured by placebos -- pills that have no medicinal effect, but people think they do, and so they do.
We accept that people are irrational for good Darwinian reasons. But I don't think we should be so pessimistic as to think that therefore we're forever condemned to be irrational.
I am persuaded that 'child abuse' is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like...eternal hell.
Mysteries do not lose their poetry when solved. Quite the contrary; the solution often turns out more beautiful than the puzzle and, in any case, when you have solved one mystery you uncover others, perhaps to inspire greater poetry.
The fact that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of something does not put existence and non-existence on an even footing.
The habit of questioning authority is one of the most valuable gifts that a book, or a teacher, can give a young would-be scientist.
Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.
There is no reason to regard God as immune from consideration along the spectrum of probabilities. And there is certainly no reason to suppose that, just because God can be neither proved nor disproved, his probability of existence is 50 per cent.
Human suffering has been caused because too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use.
The mere presence in the dictionary of a word like 'living' does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world.
Germ-line replicators, then, are units that actually survive or fail to survive, the difference constituting natural selection.
Race does not come into it. It is pure religion and culture. Something about the cultural tradition of Jews is way, way more sympathetic to science and learning and intellectual pursuits than Islam. That would have been a fair comparison.
Suffering is a byproduct of evolution by natural selection, an inevitable consequence that may worry us in our more sympathetic moments but cannot be expected to worry a tiger -- even if a tiger can be said to worry about anything at all -- and certainly cannot be expected to worry its genes.
The idea of tiny changes cumulated over many steps is an immensely powerful idea, capable of explaining an enormous range of things that would be otherwise inexplicable.
Some people find clarity threatening. They like muddle, confusion, obscurity. So when somebody does no more than speak clearly it sounds threatening.
It is the effects on the world of successful active germ-line replicators that we see as adaptations.
There is a hierarchy of entities embedded in larger entities, and in theory the concept of vehicle might be applied to any level of the hierarchy.