Richard Hoppe has already put this story on the Panda’s Thumb, but I had to write it up for here as well. The Discovery Institute loves to talk about the “growing number of scientists” who doubt “Darwinism”, and especially about their list of 400 scientists who signed on to a statement they put together. Now one of the 400, Robert Davidson, is removing himself from the list, fed up with the DI’s “elaborate, clever marketing program” and “misuse of science”:
He’s also a devout Christian who believes we’re here because of God. It was these twin devotions to science and religion that first attracted him to Seattle’s Discovery Institute. That’s the think tank that this summer has pushed “intelligent design” — a replacement theory for evolution — all the way to the lips of President Bush and into the national conversation.
Davidson says he was seeking a place where people “believe in a Creator and also believe in science.
“I thought it was refreshing,” he says.
Not anymore. He’s concluded the institute is an affront to both science and religion.
“When I joined I didn’t think they were about bashing evolution. It’s pseudo-science, at best … What they’re doing is instigating a conflict between science and religion.”…
“I’m kind of embarrassed that I ever got involved with this,” Davidson says.
He was shocked, he says, when he saw the Discovery Institute was calling evolution a “theory in crisis.”
“It’s laughable: There have been millions of experiments over more than a century that support evolution,” he says. “There’s always questions being asked about parts of the theory, as there are with any theory, but there’s no real scientific controversy about it.”
Davidson began to believe the institute is an “elaborate, clever marketing program” to tear down evolution for religious reasons. He read its writings on intelligent design — the notion that some of life is so complex it must have been designed — and found them lacking in scientific merit.
And by the way, that statement that the 400 scientists signed on to has nothing to do with supporting ID. Here is the full statement:
We are 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.
This is the statement that they say shows that these scientists support ID. But it says nothing of the sort. I could honestly sign on to that statement and I think ID is total nonsense. In fact, I know of no evolutionary scholar who couldn’t agree with it. No one thinks that random mutation and natural selection alone account for the complexity of life. It leaves out several non-selective mechanisms by which diversity can increase, including genetic drift and neutral mutations. So the statement really doesn’t say anything substantive.