Who are the “dissenters from Darwinism”?

Ken at Open Parachute asks “Who are the “dissenters from Darwinism”? ID Creationist Wedge activists (i.e., those behind efforts to sneakily insert Christianity into the Science classroom by beginning with Intelligent Design first and then later on sliding in more and more of Christianity bit by bit) created an online Dissent from Darwin list, which is a signature sheet for scientists from around the world doubtful of evolutionary theory to show their numerosity. The idea is to create the appearance of a scientific controversy with respect to evolution, and to use this is a justification for supporting ID as a viable alternative. Who are these dissenting scientists?

Ken reviews some of the research into the background of these dissenters of Darwinism. First, he cites research by evolutionary biologist and historian of biology John M. Lynch, of Arizona State University. Ken reports that according to Lynch’s preliminary analysis, only 2% of signatories have had training in evolutionary biology. The fields of expertise most prevalent on the dissenters list were Chemistry (19%), engineering (14%), and physics (13%). Lynch comments “I don’t care what chemists, physicists, engineers etc have to say about evolution, and neither should you. They have no expertise in the field (and I have none in theirs).”

Ken also reviews analyses of religious motivations. Roger Stanyard of the British Centre for Scientific Education analysed the 34 UK signatories. His results indicate that many of the 34 are active in religious creationist movements and at least 11 are Young Earth Creationists.

Following from “Project Steve” (a tongue-in-cheek parody by the National Center for Science Education, wherein a list of scientists with the Christian name Stephen (or a variation of it, e.g., Stephanie) who support evolution has been amassed) Ken probed the potential religious motivations of the 8 signatories named Steve (or one of its variants). He found that all 8 of these dissenting Steves had demonstrated a strong commitment to Christianity.

Ken, a New Zealander, found that the three signatures from scientists in his homeland are all Christians.

So who are the dissenters of Darwinism?

Ken’s conclusion, and mine, is that they seem to be nonexperts in evolutionary biology with strong religious motivations. Is this is the type of group we want calling for a scientific paradigm shift: a group of nonexperts with a clear nonscientific ulterior motive? No wonder they are so unpopular among scientists (and Conservative and Christian Bush-appointed judges, Christian trophy scientists like Francis Collins, and over 11,000 American Clergy).

3 Responses to “Who are the “dissenters from Darwinism”?”
  1. Juanito Epstein says:

    Lynch comments “I don’t care what chemists, physicists, engineers etc have to say about evolution, and neither should you. They have no expertise in the field (and I have none in theirs).”

    I disagree with this statement by Lynch. In psychology there is a lot of talk about evolutionary psychology and the evolution of cognition, perceptual systems, and much more. Just because these psychologists are not evolutionary biologists doesn’t mean they do not have anything to add to the discussion. Also, many of the people who speak publicly for evolution (such as the author of the Frame Problem) do not have a degree in biology either. While I would weight the opinions of a biologist slightly more I still think the Frame Problem has important ideas to contribute. If a creationist told me that I could not talk about creationism vs. evolution because I am not a biologist (or because I am not a theologian) I would argue that I still have had an education where evolution was taught and that my ideas on the subject have validity. I do care what chemists/engineers/physicists (also psychologists, mathematicians, and philosophers) think about evolution.

  2. ronbrown says:


    Valid point. That comment rubbed me a little awkwardly, too. But when it comes to arguing for a scientific paradigm shift, the ringleaders should be the experts in the field. Generally speaking, I would value an evo biologist’s statements on evolution significantly higher than those of a chemist, physicist, psychologist, or mine own statements. In speaking to, reading the blog (http://www.sandwalk.blogspot.com) of, and having attended a presentation of U of T Biochemist Larry Moran (who specializes in evolutionary cellular bio and biochem), I have learned a fair bit more about evolution than I knew before. As a cognitive psychology graduate student, you would be interested to know that psychologists are frequently accused by evo biologists like Moran as misunderstanding and misapplying evolutionary principles. The most common criticism of evolutionary psychology is its adaptationism (that every behavioural trait we have was a selected adaptation), which is often accompanied by “just-so stories”.

  3. Jude says:

    Hang on, I’m sorry, but is a mathematician qualified to talk about evolutionary biology? Are they familiar with the concepts that define it, to the level of being able to lecture in it? It’s ok to have an opinion, but there’s a massive difference between allowing people to have opinions and “facts”. If I have to wade through a bunch of signatories on this list in an attempt to undermine a massively supported tennet of evolutionary biology, I want the damned people on there being able to discuss facts, not bandy around opinions! This list is a really very weak attempt to undermine the credibility of a scientific theory that directly usurps the need for a creator being, and the concept that “it/He/She/They” created everything at once. Please…

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