150 years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the evidence for evolution by natural selection is overwhelming. However, evolution sceptical perspectives such as Young- and Old-Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design increasingly contest for space in the public square.
Proponents of these accounts are often simply ridiculed as ‘religious fundamentalists’, preventing a sophisticated understanding of the many evolution sceptical arguments.
Doubting Darwin, commissioned by Theos and conducted by ESRO (a respected, independent, ethnographic research agency), seeks to develop a better understanding of the discourses behind evolution scepticism in Britain.
ESRO interviewed 50 opinion formers from this field, including church ministers, representatives of creationist organisations, academics, teachers, and students. Although the majority of the respondents were Christian, the sample also included a number of Muslims.
The authors of the report argue that the charged nature of the public debate over evolution has resulted in misunderstandings about the nature of creationism and other evolution sceptical beliefs, serving to obscure the complexity of evolution sceptical positions.
The report considers the dynamic mix of issues at play in the formation of evolution sceptical perspectives, including theological arguments, responses to scientific evidence and the scientific method itself, and arguments about the social and moral consequences of evolution. Its overarching theme is the diversity of the evolutionary sceptical positions, so much so that the report’s authors suggest that it is impossible to speak of a British creationist “movement”.
Doubting Darwin: creationism and evolution scepticism in Britain today provides an invaluable insight into the complex and varied arguments of Darwin’s detractors, and constitutes a useful resource for anyone seeking further insight into the contemporary debate.