Are there Non-Religious Skeptics of Darwinian Evolution and Proponents of Intelligent Design?
By Casey Luskin
Honest truth seekers and agenda-driven atheists rarely pose the same questions, but both ask whether any nonreligious scientists and scholars challenge neo-Darwinism and/or support intelligent design (ID).
A logical response explains that an argument holds merit apart from the religious (or nonreligious) beliefs of the person arguing. Darwinism may be flawed regardless of whether its critics are religious. Rejecting an argument because of the personal religious beliefs of the arguer commits the genetic fallacy.
Nonetheless, many find it rhetorically persuasive to learn about atheists and agnostics who challenge materialistic accounts of origins. These nonreligious scientists and scholars who doubt modern Darwinian theory include former U.S. National Academy of Sciences biologist Lynn Margulis, medical professor Raymond Tallis, Rutgers cognitive scientist Jerry Fodor, New York University philosopher and legal scholar Thomas Nagel, and Princeton-trained mathematician David Berlinski—all of whom have publicly challenged neo-Darwinism and/or sympathized with ID.
Significantly, many of these scholars have faced harsh reactions from fellow nonbelievers. Margulis observes that those who attack Darwin become “persona non grata,” and Fodor has faced pressure to suppress his doubts “in public.” This demonstrates academic intolerance toward Darwin-skeptics, and leads one to wonder how many other atheists would challenge Darwinism if they had the academic freedom to do so.
At Discovery Institute, where I am employed, we receive many e-mails asking about evolution and intelligent design (ID), specifically whether there are nonreligious scientists and scholars who challenge modern neo-Darwinian theory and/or support ID.
As might be expected, a certain percentage of questioners merely want to taunt us with objections they think we can’t answer. But this question is posed not just by angry Internet critics but also by thoughtful truth seekers.
Of course, there are good answers to the query. The primary response is strictly logical. An argument must stand or fall on its own merits, and scrutinizing the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) of a person making an argument commits the genetic fallacy. After all, if Darwinian theory is flawed, those weaknesses remain, whether they are expounded by the Pope or the Devil…
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