Florida stands on the brink of adopting science standards that call evolution "the fundamental concept underlying all of biology." While it is good that students will learn about evolution, these standards will make for bad science education because they elevate Darwin's theory to a dogma that cannot be questioned.
Unless citizens advocate for change, Florida's standards will follow the dogmatism of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which recently published a booklet, "Science, Evolution, and Creationism," similarly proclaiming that "[t]here is no scientific controversy about the basic facts of evolution" because "no new evidence is likely to alter" it.
Contrary to what the NAS asserts, there are fundamental questions among scientists about Darwinian evolution.
Darwin didn't know how the cell worked, but modern biochemists have discovered our cells contain a microworld of molecular machines that function like a factory or a miniature city. More than 700 scientists have signed a statement agreeing that the integrated, organized complexity of life is not what we would expect from a random-and-unguided process such as Darwinian evolution (see www.dissentfromdarwin.com). As biochemist Franklin Harold observed in an Oxford University Press monograph, "there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations."
Leading scientists also disagree with the NAS's claim that evolution is "a cornerstone of modern science." In 2005, NAS member Philip Skell wrote in The Scientist that, "Darwinian evolution ... does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology ... the claim that it is the cornerstone of modern experimental biology will be met with quiet skepticism from a growing number of scientists."
The NAS claims that evolution has yielded great benefits in biomedicine and agriculture, but, again, other scientists disagree. University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne admitted in Nature, "improvement in crop plants and animals occurred long before we knew anything about evolution, and came about by people following the genetic principle of 'like begets like.'"
Even when it comes to fighting antibiotic-resistant superbugs, Coyne observed, "evolution hasn't yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance and, yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say." Similarly, SUNY Professor of Neurosurgery Michael Egnor recounts, "Darwinism tells us that ... bacteria survive antibiotics that they're not sensitive to, so nonkilled bacteria will eventually outnumber killed bacteria. That's it."
Sadly, the academy is commonly intolerant of dissent from Darwinism. Consider the NAS' statement that "there is no scientific controversy" over evolution. Imagine you are a scientist with fundamental doubts about Darwinism and you see the top science organization in the U.S.A. asserting that your views don't exist.
Or imagine you are a biology teacher who feels compelled to inform students about scientific dissent from Darwinism, but your science standards dictate that you must praise evolution as "the fundamental concept underlying all of biology."
Do these statements support academic freedom to express such dissenting views in the laboratory or the classroom?
This spring, a documentary will be released featuring Ben Stein, titled "Expelled," that recounts the stories of scientists who have experienced persecution of their academic freedom because they questioned evolution. One such scientist is Dr. Richard Sternberg, a biologist formerly at the Smithsonian with two Ph.D.s in evolution, who was harassed and intimidated because he is a skeptic of neo-Darwinism. Another biologist lost her job at George Mason University because she challenged evolution in a classroom.
No wonder Darwinists confidently declare there is no debate over evolution: They shut down such debate and prevent it from taking place.
Unfortunately, the proposed Florida science standards will stifle free inquiry because they, too, censor any scientific challenges to evolution. Change is necessary if Florida teachers are to be given the freedom to inform students about scientists who dissent from evolution.
[Casey Luskin is an attorney with an M.S. in Earth Sciences. He studied at Scripps Institution for Oceanography. He is co-founder of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center, San Diego. He works for the Discovery Institute, Seattle, as program officer for public policy and legal affairs.]