Thursday, October 20, 2005

Evolution Scientists Beat ID Scientists 20-to-1

In his ill-conceived attempt to convince me that Incompetent Design is a scientific theory that is not supported exclusively by religious individuals, pro-ID blogger "mike" cited the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Club’s list of "Scientists and other Intellectuals that Doubt Darwinism and other Naturalistic Theories of Origins". Some of the names on the list are openly pro-ID, but many are not. The list includes anyone the IDEA club could find who has ever "publicly expressed serious doubts about Darwinism".

The terms of the IDEA list are pretty vague, especially since "Darwinism" is actually an early variant of the Theory of Evolution, which has changed since Charles Darwin first proposed it in the 19th century. The "Darwinism" variant of the hypothesis states that all evolution takes place gradually and is driven purely by natural selection. The theory of Punctuated Equilibrium corrects the Theory of Evolution with regard to pure gradualism, and the modern Theory of Evolution accepts other factors (like sexual selection) that affect the success and development of species.

"mike" also tried to claim that the signatories on the IDEA list are not religious. There’s actually nothing on that list to indicate their religious affiliation (or lack thereof), so his claim is baseless, but many of them are known to be Christians who believe the “intelligent designer” to be God. Michael Behe, for example is Catholic, and recently admitted in the Dover, PA, court case over ID that he believes God is the "designer". We can therefore conclude that "mike" was being deliberately deceptive.

The IDEA list has no more than 479 names at the time of this posting (it’s numbered up to 481, but I saw at least two blank lines – 48 and 49 – in it).

The Discovery Institute also has a list of scientists who "are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life". Their list of scientists who agree to this vague statement has a little over 400 names on it, and I haven’t read through it to see how much it overlaps the IDEA list.

More recently, Shovel Bums LLC, a resource for archaeology and CRM professionals, ran their own petition to collect signatures from scientists who "do not consider Intelligent Design to be a fact-based science appropriate for teaching in public schools because it is theistic in nature, not empirical, and therefore does not pass the rigors of scientific hypothesis testing and theory development."

In four days, Shovel Bums collected 7,733 signatures. Additional signatures after the four-day recruiting drive brought the total up to 11,622 before it was closed. That’s 24 times the number of signatures that the pro-ID crowd has been able to accumulate in four years. Unlike the IDEA and DI lists, the Shovel Bums petition is very specific about the statement to which the signatories agree. Furthermore, many signatories to the Shovel Bums list also indicated their religious affiliation on the petition, and they are clearly a diverse group (unlike ID-ers).

ID-ers should be wary of entering a name-dropping contest with the real scientific community; it’s a battle they’re doomed to lose.

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