Charles Darwin and the "theory of
A poll published in the February 1988 issue of the professional magazine, Industrial
Chemist, tells us what scientists really believe.
"According to the poll of professional scientists, over one-fifth20.6
percentcompletely reject evolution. Less than half of the scientists48.3
percentbelieve that it is even possible for man to have evolved from lower forms
without supernatural intervention. Do the scientists think that scientific creationism is
hurting science education? According to this poll, 39.9 percent say `No.' "Paul
A. Bartz, Letting God Create Your Day, Vol. 1, No. 3 (1990), p. 62.
7-part PBS series on evolution challenged by 100 scientists
By Art Toalston
SEATTLE (BP)--The start of a seven-part series on evolution by PBS was greeted Sept. 24 by
100 scientists challenging Darwinian evolution.
The scientists, in a succinct statement coordinated by the Seattle-based Discovery
Institute public policy center, said they are "skeptical of claims for the ability of
random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life."
The Discovery Institute, in a news release, said it compiled the list of signers "to
answer the contention of designated spokespeople" for the PBS series that
"virtually all reputable scientists in the world" support Darwin's theory of
Discovery Institute officials charge that officials of WGBH/Clear Blue Sky Productions
have used that contention to keep any scientific criticism of Darwinism from being
acknowledged or examined in the series. "They want people to think that the only
criticism of Darwin's theory today is from religious fundamentalists," the Discovery
Institute's president, Bruce Chapman, said. "They routinely try to stigmatize
scientists who question Darwin as 'creationists.'"
The Discovery Institute has produced a 150-page guide to the PBS series, titled
"Getting the Facts Straight" and available via the Internet at the
organization's www.discovery.org website.
The Discovery Institute, on its website, states, "Accuracy and objectivity are what
we should expect in a television documentary--especially in a science documentary on a
publicly funded network. But the PBS 'Evolution' series falls far short of meeting these
basic standards. It distorts the scientific evidence, ignores scientific disagreements
over Darwin's theory and misrepresents the theory's critics. The series also displays a
sharply biased view of religion and seeks to influence the political debate over how
evolution should be taught in schools. 'Evolution' presents itself as science journalism,
but it is actually a work of one-sided advocacy."
The Discovery Institute also noted: "The [PBS] series is intended not only for
broadcast on public television, but also for use in public schools. 'Evolution's biased
content, however, makes it inappropriate for classroom use without supplementary
materials." The organization stated that its "Getting the Facts Straight"
viewer's guide "has been prepared to help teachers, parents, students and interested
citizens ensure that discussions of evolution in the classroom fairly represent the
evidence and the full range of scientific viewpoints about Darwin's controversial
The viewer's guide also charges that the series seeks "to promote a controversial
The "Getting the Facts Straight" guide cites an internal document prepared by
the Evolution Project/WGBH Boston stating that one of the goals of the series is to
"co-opt existing local dialogue about teaching evolution in schools," including
carrying its pro-evolution stance to school boards and other government officials.
The Discovery Institute, meanwhile, released a poll by Zogby International reporting that
71 percent of Americans believe biology teachers should teach Darwin's theory of evolution
along with evidence against the theory. The survey of 1,202 adults was conducted from Aug.
Stephen Meyer, a Cambridge-educated philosopher of science who directs the Discovery
Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, said, "The number of
scientists who question Darwinism is a minority, but it is growing fast. This is happening
in the face of fierce attempts to intimidate and suppress legitimate dissent. Young
scientists are threatened with deprivation of tenure. Others have seen a consistent
pattern of answering scientific arguments with ad hominem attacks. In particular, the
series' attempt to stigmatize all critics-- --including scientists--as religious
'creationists' is an excellent example of viewpoint discrimination."
Signers of the Discovery Institute statement questioning Darwinism represent such fields
as biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, geology and anthropology from throughout the
United States and from several other countries. Professors and researchers at such
universities as Princeton, MIT, University of Pennsylvania and Yale, as well as smaller
colleges and the National Laboratories at Livermore, Calif., and Los Alamos, N.M., are
among the signers. A number of them have authored or contributed to books on issues
related to evolution, or have books underway.
The two-sentence Discovery Institute statement, titled, "A Scientific Dissent from
Darwinism," reads: "I am skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation
and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the
evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."
Chemist and five-time Nobel nominee Henry "Fritz" Schaefer of the University of
Georgia is quoted in the Discovery Institute news release as saying, "Some defenders
of Darwinism embrace standards of evidence for evolution that as scientists they would
never accept in other circumstances."
Jed Macosko, a young research molecular biologist at the University of California,
Berkeley, said, "It is time for defenders of Darwin to engage in serious dialogue and
debate with their scientific critics. Science can't grow where institutional gatekeepers
try to prevent new challengers from being heard."
According to the Discovery Institute's website, "Despite repeated requests, the
series' producers refused to cover scientific objections to Darwinism. Instead, the
producers offered only to let scientific dissenters go on camera to tell their 'personal
faith stories' in the last program of the series, 'What About God?'" Discovery's
president, Bruce Chapman, said, "This was almost an insult to serious scientists.
Some of these dissenting scientists are not even religious. When you watch that last
program, you realize they were wise to refuse to take part in it."
The Discovery Institute viewer's guide notes that it evaluates each of the series' seven
parts "from a historical and scientific perspective," pointing out "where
the series presents inaccurate history or flawed reasoning" and "how the series
takes issues that are vigorously debated within the scientific community and presents them
as established facts." The guide also examines "the religious stereotyping
engaged in by the [series'] producers."
The Zogby poll, released Sept. 24, shows overwhelming public support--81 percent -- for
the position that "When public broadcasting networks discuss Darwin's theory of
evolution, they should present the scientific evidence for it, but also the scientific
evidence against it." Only 10 percent supported presenting "only the scientific
evidence that supports" Darwin's theory. (Less than 10 percent said
"Neither" or "Not sure.")
"Public television producers are clearly at odds with overwhelming public sentiment
in favor of hearing all scientific sides of the debate," said the Discovery
Institute's Chapman, a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau. "The huge
majorities in the poll cross every demographic, regional and political line in
America." The Zogby poll's margin of error is 3 percent.
While reporting that 71 percent of Americans say biology teachers should teach Darwin's
theory of evolution along with scientific evidence against the theory, the Zogby poll
tallied 15 percent who said biology teachers should only teach Darwin's theory of
evolution and scientific evidence that supports it. Another 14 percent were not sure.
A strong majority--78 percent--also agreed that when Darwin's theory of evolution is
taught in school, students should also be able to learn about scientific evidence that
points to an intelligent design of life. Of those who agreed, 52 percent strongly agreed
and 25 percent somewhat agreed. In contrast, 13 percent disagreed with students learning
about an intelligent design of life, and 9 percent were not sure.
A strong majority--69 percent- also disagreed that "The universe and life are the
product of purely natural processes that are in no way influenced by God or any
intelligent design," while 24 percent agreed with the statement and 7 percent were