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Our "Scientific Dissent from Darwin" List: A Reader Inquires


Discovery Institute maintains a list of PhD scientists who are willing, and think themselves safe enough, to publicly express skepticism toward the orthodox Darwinian view of how life has developed over time. That list, "A Scientific Dissent from Darwin," is a thorn in the side of those who say there's no scientific debate over whether evolution works in a completely naturalistic fashion.

Irked, some write emails. Here's a recent example:

Hi there!

I'm just curious, could you please tell me why your Dissent from Darwinism list includes so many scientists that have credentials that have nothing at all to do with the study of Evolution?

And why don't you show the total number of people who have signed it? Seems like an obvious thing that should be big and bold right up front. Have I overlooked it?

I certainly find this to be odd and misleading. If a simple list of scientists is enough to cause such a concern over "Darwinism," then surely the NCSE's Project Steve is a shockingly overwhelming counter to your silly little ploy.


I sincerely look forward to your explanation of what no doubt is just a little oversight.

Oh, and what is this "Darwinism" thing? No one worships Darwin. It sounds like you are trying to impose a religious faith based concept onto Darwin, the way some people might blindly worship a character like Jesus or Mohammed, instead of actually looking at what those people did with their lives and how evidence and reality support or deny their claims (and with the huge assumption that these Jesus and Mohammed characters actually existed).


[Name redacted to avoid embarrassing the writer]

That happened. Some guy actually wrote this nastygram and pressed send.

Anyway, I would reply as follows:

Thanks for writing.

The Dissent from Darwin statement counters and preempts any claim that (1) there is no scientific dissent over how evolution happens, by what means, that is, or that (2) it is unscientific to be skeptical of the proposition that natural selection and random mutation together satisfactorily explain the development of life over time. A scientist and signatory of the Dissent list need not specifically work in evo-devo, say, in order to serve as a counterexample to (1) and (2).

As to your other important question, the Project Steve statement does not address the same claims as the Dissent from Darwin statement. Project Steve says, for example, that "there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence." But that is not the same as affirming either (1) or (2), not even close. So there is no conflict between the two, at least as Project Steve is currently worded. That means Project Steve is not really a "counter," as you say, to the Dissent from Darwin list or statement. I could recommend some edits to the Project Steve statement to remedy the situation, if you like.



So there you go. A little slice of what we do.