Natural selection

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Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in heritable traits of a population over time. Charles Darwin popularised the term "natural selection", and compared it with artificial selection.


  • So among the three theories—creationism, seeding theory, and natural selection—there is no real contest. Evolution by natural selection is the only known scientific theory that can explain the astonishing diversity of life we see around us today. And it is the only known scientific theory that has the power to account for the origins and structure of complex adaptive mechanisms—from callus-producing mechanisms to large brains—that define human nature.
    • David Buss, Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind (6th ed., 2019), Chap. 2 : The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology
  • In the beginning was simplicity. It is difficult enough explaining how even a simple universe began. I take it as agreed that it would be even harder to explain the sudden springing up, fully armed, of complex order—life, or a being capable of creating life. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is satisfying because it shows us away in which simplicity could change into complexity, how unordered atoms could group themselves into ever more complex patterns until they ended up manufacturing people. Darwin provides a solution, the only feasible one so far suggested, to the deep problem of our existence. I will try to explain the great theory in a more general way than is customary, beginning with the time before evolution itself began.
  • What made Darwin’s insight so radical was its reliance upon a natural mechanism to explain the development of species. And intelligent Creator was not required for natural selection to operate. Darwin’s vision was of a dynamic, self-generating process of material change. That process was entirely arbitrary, governed by physical laws and chance.
  • Natural selection was a brilliant concept, but like many brilliant concepts it assaulted long-cherished ideas and beliefs. It threatened the notion that human beings were a separate and extraordinary species, differing from every other animal on the planet. Taken to its logical conclusion, it demolished the idea that people had been created in God’s image.
  • The phrase “common descent with modification” sums up the process of evolution because it means that, as descent occurs from common ancestors, so do modifications that cause organisms to be adapted to the environment. Through many observations and experiments, Charles Darwin came to the conclusion that natural selection was the process that made modification—that is, adaptation—possible.
    • Sylvia S. Mader, Biology (10th ed., 2010), Ch. 1. A View of Life
  • Natural selection tends to sculpt a species to fit its environment and lifestyle and can create new species from existing ones. The end result is the diversity of life classified into the three domains of life.
    • Sylvia S. Mader, Biology (10th ed., 2010), Ch. 1. A View of Life
  • Here we are after a couple million years of natural selection has produced a race that overpopulates and makes war and dominates and rapes, and you want to know about wisdom! Natural selection doesn’t select for wisdom!
  • Natural selection. So much of bird life and behaviour—from the bright colours, to the hypnotic or downright peculiar meeting displays, to the songs—revolves around their need to procreate, to demonstrate the fitness of their genes.
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