Eighty years after the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, the public still refuses to accept the idea that Darwin’s theory of natural selection is a sufficient explanation for complex biological phenomena. In fact, opinion polls show that fewer people are willing to accept the idea that human beings developed from earlier species than they were just ten years ago.
In Britain—a country that is not exactly known for fundamentalist Christianity—fewer than half accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life. (And more than 40% of those polled believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should be taught in school science lessons.) Even doctors, who are more informed about biology than the general public, overwhelmingly (60%) reject the claim that humans evolved through natural processes alone.
Why do so many people have such difficulty accepting the theory? Is it due to a resurgence of religious-based creationism? Or is it that the Discovery Institute and other advocates of Intelligent Design are more persuasive? I believe the credit belongs not to the advocates of ID but to the theory’s critics.
Had the critics remained silent, ID might possibly have moldered in obscurity. But instead they launched a counter-offensive, forcing people into choosing sides. The problem is that the more the public learns about modern evolutionary theory, the more skeptical they become.
I won’t argue that critics of ID are always wrong or that ID is always—or even mostly—right in its claims. But I do think a compelling case can be made that the anti-IDers are losing the rhetorical battle. Here is the first five in a list of ten reasons ways in which they are helping to promote the theory of intelligent design:
#1 By remaining completely ignorant about ID while knocking down strawman versions of the theory. – Whether due to intellectual snobbery or intellectual laziness, too many critics of ID never bother to understand what the term means, much less learn the general tenets of the theory. Instead, they knock down a strawman version of ID that they have gleaned from other, equally ill-informed, critics. The belligerent or paranoid advocates of ID will assume that the misrepresentation is due to dishonesty or a conspiracy by “Darwinists.” But even those who are more charitable will agree that when a critic misrepresents the theory, it undermines their own credibility. Read More.