1000 Scientists Sign Dissent From Darwin Petition

The Discovery Institute has updated their “Dissent from Darwinpetition and they have apparently gotten over 1000 signatories.  For those unfamiliar, the petition says:

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.

There are a few things I’d like to point out about this petition, and the problems I have with it:

The most glaring problem with this petition is that most of the signatories aren’t even biologists, or in a field related to biology.  That in itself should be a major red flag to anybody looking at this.  I plan to spend a few hours looking over the 25 pages to try and figure out approximately how many of these signatories are actually biologists, or in biology related fields.  I suspect the number is somewhere around 30%, just from a cursory glance.

The second thing that should be striking is the exact wording of the petition.  Nowhere does it say that the signer actually considers evolution false, or that they consider Neo-Darwinian evolution to be incapable of explaining the diversity of life.  All the petition says is that the signer is skeptical (which frankly, should be the position of scientists in regard to every theory in science).  I seriously wonder how many of these signatories actually dispute the explanatory power and models of Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory?

Third, the number of signatories represents a tiny fraction of the scientists who do accept that Evolution explains the diversity of life that we see around us.  The last survey done on the subject, only 9 years ago, showed that 97% of scientists accept that humans, and all other species, evolved over time.

Fourth, this amounts to little more than an argument from authority.  Science isn’t determined by what scientists think, but rather what can be established using the scientific method that finds its way into peer reviewed scientific journals.  These journals represent the accumulated human knowledge through the scientific method.  If you want to change science you need to publish in credible journals, not through petitions.

Fifth, let’s assume that this whole thing is on the up-and-up, and that there is a huge movement of credible scientists who do not accept Evolution as an explanation for the diversity of life.  What then?  Does this make Intelligent Design (ID) a more credible explanation?  No, because ID is still pseudoscience.  Does this make Christianity more plausible?  No, because Christianity was never plausible to begin with.  Even if the theory of Evolution is falsified tomorrow, it doesn’t make any other theory more probable, and any other explanation still needs to have good models, with confirmed testable predictions, in order to be accepted as a scientific theory.

I think it’s rather sad that the Discovery Institute spends so much effort on trying to undermine a well established scientific theory, and does nothing to actually contribute to the field of science.  They don’t go out and get their work published in scientific journals.  They don’t go out and actually try to build credible theories that offer good explanations. They simply work to create a campaign of disinformation.

Am I worried about the status of Evolution?  Not at all.  Even if the Theory of Evolution fails, I’ll still be an atheist, because my atheism is not tied to Evolution being true.  Why creationists spend so much time trying to undermine Evolution is beyond me.

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