Old, Out of Context Quotations from French Scientists

Old, Out of Context Quotations from French Scientists

"Evolutionism is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless."

- Prof. Louis Bounoure (Former President of the Biological Society of Strasbourg and Director of the Strasbourg Zoological Museum, later Director of Research at the French National Centre of Scientific Research), as quoted in The Advocate, Thursday 8 March 1984, p. 17. (P. 5 of The Revised Quote Book)

So far as the research below demonstrates, this quotation appears to be a mistakenly jumbled combination of statements made by two different people at least 36 years ago! - Neither did the editors of The Revised Quote Book find enough room or honesty in their publication to discuss the social/historical context out of which the quotation(s) arose. The famous French scientist, Lamarck, was the first major scientific figure in Europe to seriously and strenuously propose "the theory of transformism" [today known as "the theory of evolution"]. So naturally, when the British "amateur scientist," Darwin, usurped Lamarck's throne to become known as the "father of transformism/evolution" the French were miffed. To them, Lamarck was the "father" of that theory. This basic disagreement must be taken into consideration whenever quotations from French scientists regarding "transformism" or "evolution" are cited, especially since those very words soon became identified with Darwin's (rather than Lamarck's) theory of "how" it occurred. This helps explain some quotations from French scientists wherein they showed disdain for "transformism/evolution." (However, note the very end of this article for the latest word on what French scientists think of evolution and even Darwin's theory!)

Grasse and the "Myth of Evolution"

Even until the 1970s there was at least one famous French scientist of the "old school," Pierre P. Grasse, who continued to voice strong reservations concerning Darwin's particular explanation (and the Neo-Darwinian explanation) of "how" evolution occurred. Not surprisingly, Grasse is quoted FIVE TIMES in The Revised Quote Book, because he wrote of the "myth of evolution, considered as a simple, understood, and explained phenomenon."

However, the editors of The Revised Quote Book neglect to tell their readers that in the same book by Grasse from which they have quoted, Grasse also stated in the most unequivocal terms: "Zoologists and botanists are nearly unanimous in considering evolution as a fact and not a hypothesis. I agree with this position and base it primarily on documents provided by paleontology, i.e., the history of the living world ... [Also,] Embryogenesis provides valuable data [concerning evolutionary relationships] ... Chemistry, through its analytical data, directs biologists and provides guidance in their search for affinities between groups of animals or plants, and ... plays an important part in the approach to genuine evolution."

(Pierre P. Grasse, Evolution of Living Organisms, Academic Press, New York, 1977, pp. 3,4,5,7)

Of course, Grasse also tipped his hat to the French "father of evolution," Lamarck, stating: "Lamarckism, which is no less logical than Darwinism ... is a tempting theory ... and we would not be surprised to learn from molecular biology that some of its [Lamarckism's] intuitions are partly true...it should be considered today a way of thinking, of understanding nature, rather than a strict doctrine entirely oriented toward the explaining of evolution."

(Pierre P. Grasse, p. 8)

The authors of The Revised Quote Book lifted Grasse's phrase, "the myth of evolution," out of context, trying to deceive others into believing that Grasse was doubtful of evolution even though he stated he "agreed" with the "nearly unanimous" scientific consensus that "evolution" was an historical scientific "fact." Grasse simply disagreed with explanations of exactly "how" evolution occurred. He felt the "how" part was not a "simple, understood, and explained phenomenon."


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