Today is Darwin’s Day, the birthday of the venerated Charles Darwin, whose theory is a fact beyond question. Right? The journal Nature assures its readers, “Scientists can treat evolution by natural selection as, in effect, an established fact.” Or as philosopher Michael Ruse wonderfully put it, “Evolution is a fact, fact, FACT!” The insistence on this point encourages a certain skepticism, though. As others have pointed out, evolution is supposed to be as certain gravity, yet nobody goes around saying, “Gravity is a fact, fact, FACT!” and nobody says gravity is as certain as evolution.
Against this backdrop, Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture noted last week that the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism has topped 1,000+ names. Over at the Dissent from Darwinism website, we’ve added a birthday present for Charles Darwin, a video introduction to some of signers. Check it out!
While that number surely represents a scientific minority, it also no doubt vastly understates the number of Darwin-doubting PhD scientists. When it comes to evolution, persecution is an all too well known fact of academic life. Endorsing Darwinian evolution is the safe careerist move, while questioning it can easily mean the end of your career. So for every signer of the Dissent list, there is some multiplier’s worth of private skeptics in science. That is beyond doubt. The multiplier could be 2, or 10, or 100. Who knows?
“But scientific truth isn’t determined by lists of names, even of people who hold PhDs,” protests evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne in response. True! “It’s determined by the published work of scientists and whether it’s accepted by the scientific community.” Not quite true! The “scientific community” can be mistaken, dramatically so. See, “How to Think About Minority Science Views — The Case of Plate Tectonics.”
Where there’s a genuine controversy, as there is about Darwinian theory, anyone in search of truth has no choice but to weigh the evidence for himself. The observation that, beyond doubt, thousands of scientists are skeptical and encourage further “careful examination” of the question, is one reason every thoughtful adult owes it to herself to consider the evidence without just passively swallowing the majority view.