Since a number of people here are insisting that there are very few really significant differences among evolutionary theorists regarding evolutionary mechanism, I thought I would put that assertion to a test.
I will give a statement I read, from a biologist who claimed to know a great deal about evolution. The statement is a paraphrase, since I cannot find the original quotation, but since the biologist made the same claim on more than one occasion, I am sure I remember the essence of it.
The statement runs like this:
“People put far too much emphasis on mutation in evolution. Evolution does not work primarily on mutations, but on variation already present in the population. Evolution could do all the things it does now, even without mutations. Mutations might speed it up a little bit, but it would be almost as fast as it is now, even if there were no mutations at all.”
The implication of the statement was that evolution could bring life “from bacterium to man” without a single mutation occurring. The worst that would happen would be that evolution would take a little longer (only a little longer) without any mutations. So fish, flowering plants, elephants, and man would have emerged eventually, only maybe a few hundred million years later, had there never been a single mutation.
Is this view of evolution one that virtually every current evolutionary theorist subscribes to? Or is it an outrider, outside of the mainstream of evolutionary thought?
I invite comments from all those here who consider themselves to have knowledge about current evolutionary theory and the mechanisms it endorses.