The following is borrowed from a comment redditor JoeCoder made to a question posed in the subreddit Creation when asked why evolution is so widely accepted…
According to the NCSE (an evolution advocacy group) 55% of scientists are atheists, 40% believe God guided evolution, and 5% are young earth creationists. The survey had no category for old earth creationists and they don’t break it down by field, so the results aren’t perfect.
I don’t like to profile large groups of people I’ve never met and I think the reasons for evolutionary theory’s widespred acceptance are complex and multifaceted. But I’d guess it involves some of the following:
- Many immediately reject creation or ID from the many embarrassingly bad “why are there still monkeys” arguments used by laymen. They assume there’s nothing beyond that and never dig deeper to encounter the good arguments.
- It’s what they were taught in school and they never questioned it. “I didn’t give it much thought; It wasn’t my area of concern”, Michael Behe reflected of his postdoc research days. “college students have not been shown the weakness of Darwinian evolution” as Joseph Kuhn published in 2012.
- Many don’t know about issues outside their narrow field. Paleontologist and ID critic Don Prothero wrote that “Nearly all metazoans [meaning animals] show stasis, with almost no good examples of gradual evolution… the prevalence of stasis is a puzzle that has no simple answer” but lamented, “by and large the neontological [non-paleontologist] community still ‘doesn’t get it’… The journal Evolution continues to publish almost no contributions by paleontologists”. Ironically I’ve also seen geneticists cite the fossil record as evidence for evolution when genes don’t form trees.
- Others don’t talk about the problems. Renowned chemist James Tour describes, “Let me tell you what goes on in the back rooms of science – with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. I have sat with them, and when I get them alone… I say, “Do you understand all of this, where all of this came from, and how this happens?” Every time that I have sat with people who are synthetic chemists, who understand this, they go ‘Uh-uh. Nope.’ These people are just so far off, on how to believe this stuff came together. I’ve sat with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. Sometimes I will say, ‘Do you understand this?’ And if they’re afraid to say ‘Yes,’ they say nothing. They just stare at me, because they can’t sincerely do it.”
- Many see anything but materialistic naturalism as a violation of scientific professionalism. One reporter described of a conference in China, “Chinese scientists encouraged the investigation of a variety of new hypotheses to explain the Cambrian explosion: hydrothermal eruptions, sudden seafloor changes, even intelligent design. This last was too much for one American paleontologist who stood up and shouted, ‘This is not a scientific conference!'”. Likewise, asLynn Margulis said, “The critics, including the creationist critics, are right about their criticism. It’s just that they’ve got nothing to offer but intelligent design or ‘God did it.'”
- Many biologists don’t understand engineering. Many of the patterns claimed to only arise by common descent are the same I see in my own code.
- Some recognize insufficiencies but hope new theories will arise to resolve them. Depew & Weber published in 2012: “Darwinism in its current scientific incarnation has pretty much reached the end of its rope… however, we are confident that a new and more general theory of evolution is evolving”
- A bias toward sensationalism in the media–which is true everywhere and not just with evolutionary biology.
- Those who disagree are rarely given a voice, and are often forced to move on to careers outside biology. Creation evolutionary biologist Todd Wood’s response to critic Phil Senter was “declinedwithout review by 4 different journals”. Without review means they didn’t read them. Probably due to some of the reasons above, Yet being unable publish reinforces the cycle.
- The more vocal opponents successfully prevent journals from publishing papers questioning evolutionary theory by threatening boycott. Even when the papers have already passed peer review. Thankfully the papers were peer reviewed again by another journal and still published.
- A small number of rather popular evolution “evangelists” shame anyone who dissents from the party line. For example see Jerry Coyne’s response to Lynn Margulis claiming evolution doesn’t work (cited above). Coyne says she’s “dogmatic, willfully ignorant, and intellectually dishonest”, “wrong in the worst way a scientist can be wrong”, and “embarrasses both herself and the field”. He and others write those accusations against anyone mentioning problems.