|Frequently Asked Questions|
Are there scientists who challenge Darwinian evolution on a scientific basis?
Yes, a significant minority of qualified scientists do not believe that Darwinian evolution can explain the origin of the diversity of life we see around us. For example, over 800 scientists with PhDs have signed a public statement: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”
Many scientists have written articles and books questioning Darwinism. For example, Michael Behe, Professor of Biology at Lehigh University, claims that modern discoveries in biochemistry show systems whose origins cannot be explained by Darwinism in his book Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (The Free Press, 1996). Siegfried Scherer, Professor of Microbial Ecology at the Technischen Universität München, Germany has co-authored Evolution – ein kritisches Lehrbuch (Evolution – a critical textbook) (Weyel-Verlag, 1998). Michael Denton, Senior Research Fellow in Human Molecular Genetics at the University of Otago, New Zealand, wrote Evolution: a theory in crisis (Adler and Adler, 1985).
Should we teach views which are held by only a minority of scientists?
It is appropriate to teach views about origins which are currently held by a minority of scientists, for three reasons.
1) British school textbooks usually mention creationists in their chapters on evolution, but misrepresent their views. Thus, they teach a view of origins which is not held by any scientist. Students deserve to have a fair and accurate portrayal of the views of scientists who disagree with Darwinism.
2) Scientific truth is not determined by consensus. In science the majority can be, and often have been, wrong. There is a great deal of peer pressure in the science community, which can stifle objections to a popular theory. New advances in science often begin with just a few scientists who are prepared to risk questioning the reigning paradigm. Thomas Kuhn explained it like this in his classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (revised edition, University of Chicago Press, 1970):
"Any new interpretation of nature, whether a discovery or a theory, emerges first in the mind of one or a few individuals. It is they who first learn to see science and the world differently, and their ability to make the transition is facilitated by two circumstances that are not common to most other members of their profession. Invariably their attention has been intensely concentrated upon the crisis-provoking problems; usually, in addition, they are people so young or so new to the crisis-ridden field that practice has committed them less deeply than most of their contemporaries to the world view and rules determined by the old paradigm." (p. 144)
3) Theories of origins have profound moral, social, ethical and cultural implications. Students should therefore be exposed to differences of opinion, and allowed to consider the arguments for themselves.
If Darwinism is flawed, why do so many scientists still believe it?
Here are three reasons why scientists might continue to hold to Darwinism even though it is fundamentally flawed:
1) Many scientists hold that science seeks to explain the universe purely in terms of observable natural mechanisms. Anything which involves God or the supernatural is therefore outside of science. They claim that theories involving creation or intelligent design are unscientific. Darwinism is the only theory we have which claims to explain the origin of life and its diversity without involving God or the supernatural, and so is seen by many scientists as the only scientific theory of origins. Many scientists also believe that science is the only way we have of knowing anything, and finding truth. Therefore the only scientific theory of origins must be true, even if there is strong evidence against it. Richard Dawkins writes in The Blind Watchmaker: “Even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory, we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.”
2) There is a great deal of peer pressure within the scientific community, and to some extent this is institutionalised in the process of peer review which all scientific papers must go through before they are published. Scientists' careers depend on publishing their work and they can only publish work which their colleagues approve of. It is very difficult to publish papers which contain alternative theories to evolution. Recently, a single such paper was published in a scientific journal, and peer pressure began to be replaced by persecution of the editor of the journal. His website describes how attempts were made to ruin his academic career.
3) Most scientists are highly specialised and have in depth knowledge of only a single field. Even if they realise that Darwinism is flawed in their own field, they may assume that in other areas it is well supported by evidence.
What is Intelligent Design?
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
Is Intelligent Design based on the Bible?
No. Plato, Aristotle and Cicero articulated early versions of design theory, as did virtually all of the founders of modern science. Indeed, most scientists until the latter part of the nineteenth century accepted some form of intelligent design. The scientific community largely rejected design in the early twentieth century after neo-Darwinism claimed to be able to explain the emergence of biological complexity through the unintelligent process of natural selection acting on random mutations. During the past decade, however, new research and discoveries in such fields as physics, cosmology, biochemistry, genetics, and palaeontology have caused a growing number of scientists and science theorists to question neo-Darwinism and propose design as the best explanation for the existence of specified complexity in the natural world.
Is Truth in Science an American organisation?
No, Truth in Science is a British organisation. Although dissent from Darwinism is often portrayed by the media as an American phenomenon, books have been published against Darwinism in the UK by anatomist Antony Latham, journalist Richard Milton, environmental scientist David Swift, and Professor of Design and Nature at Bristol University, Stuart Burgess. Darwinism is questioned by thinking people all over the world.
Why does the TiS Board of Directors and Council of Reference include Ministers of Religion?
The scientific controversy over origins has many spiritual and religious implications. This is acknowledged both by Darwinists and Darwin-doubters. Many prominent advocates of Darwinism are 'distinguished supporters of humanism' (according to the British Humanist Association) and Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins' latest book is entitled: The God Delusion.
These issues should be discussed in Science classes. All GCSE and A-Level Biology Specifications mention "spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural issues" as something which should be considered by candidates. Ministers of Religion have much to contribute to these discussions.
Evolution by natural selection...has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong.
Robert B. Laughlin, A Different Universe (New York: Basic Books, 2005)