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What If People Stopped Believing in Darwin?

Ann Gauger


What if people stopped believing in Darwin? Let’s say they just suddenly stopped one day, awakening as from a brain fog of misty narratives and just-so stories? I mean they stopped believing in things like the grand sweeping stories of eons of time giving rise to the vertebrate I, or new body plans springing from the brow of the Cambrian whole and entire, or things like whale evolution or “sudden radiations” of whole new classes of animals or plants. Imagine those ideas going away overnight, by some mysterious process.

What would change?

Well, textbooks would change, for one. And a newfound humility might briefly sweep the halls of academic biology. Biology students might feel free to express their opinions on origins. The world would see a new flush of academic freedom.

Guess what? It’s happening right now, but it’s happening slowly, not overnight. That’s because more and more people are recognizing that evolutionary biology’s explanatory power is inversely proportional to its rigor. Yet there is still an enormous amount of pushback from people strongly invested in the Darwinian story.

Will people’s worldviews change? I doubt it. The old Darwinian paradigm is failing and scientists are in search of alternative explanations, ones that don’t involve nasty words like design and teleology. I think only those open to the possibility of an immaterial explanation of things, the idea of mind and information, would find their way to intelligent design. Most would cling to their worldviews despite the collapse of their favorite paradigm. They’d just start looking for another materialistic explanation.

That’s why they say scientific revolutions happen one funeral at a time.

Image: � crazymedia / Dollar Photo Club.

Ann Gauger

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Dr. Ann Gauger is Director of Science Communication and a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture, and Senior Research Scientist at the Biologic Institute in Seattle, Washington. She received her Bachelor's degree from MIT and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington Department of Zoology. She held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, where her work was on the molecular motor kinesin.