But within the maddening, confusing and repetitive pages of Lamarck's exposition lurk concepts that are central to modern evolutionary thought. Stated in contemporary terminology, they include the ideas that species change through evolutionary time; that evolutionary change is slow and imperceptible; that evolution occurs through adaptation to the environment; that it generally progresses from the simple to the complex, although in a few cases it proceeds in reverse; and that species are related to one another by common descent. Furthermore, Lamarck incorporated into his theory the fact that the world is old, and proposed that the evolutionary process started with abiogenesis ?" the origin of life from inanimate matter.
So how and why has Lamarckism become shorthand for foolishness? (...)
In fact, the amount of scientific rubbish that Lamarck put on paper certainly exceeds the quantity of good science in his scientific oeuvre. In this respect, he is no different from Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Darwin, Albert Einstein, Fred Hoyle or Francis Crick.
- Source: In Retrospect: Lamarck's treatise at 200, Dan Graur, Manolo Gouy, David Wool, DOI: 10.1038/460688a, Nature 460, 688-689, 2009/08/06