Darwinian evolution theory deserves critical analysis

Evolution is a hot-button issue right now, as new science standards are being developed for Minnesota’s K-12 education. If you’ve taken high school or college biology, you’ve probably been exposed to a good dose of Darwinian evolution.

Darwinian theory includes the belief that all living things descended from a small number of common ancestors and that this process was guided over long periods of time by natural selection or “survival of the fittest.”

Although many people view Darwinian evolution as a valid explanation, others have begun questioning parts of this theory.

For example, a growing number of prominent biologists are continually signing on to the following 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.”

Written in 2001 to encourage open-mindedness within the scientific community, signers include Nobel Prize nominee Fritz Schaeffer, Smithsonian Institute molecular biologist Richard Sternberg and author of “Evolutionary Biology” Stanley Salthe.

Darwinian evolutionary theory was Salthe’s field of specialization in biology and the subject of the textbook he wrote about 30 years ago. “Meanwhile, I have become an apostate from Darwinian theory,” Salthe said. “Biology students at least should have the opportunity to learn about the flaws and limits of Darwin’s theory while they are learning about the theory’s strongest claims.”

Some defenders of “evolution-only” are attempting to suppress any questioning of this theory by accusing all critics of trying to bring religion into the classroom, but critical scientific analysis of Darwinian evolution is not religion and should be encouraged.

All theories and even scientific laws must be tentative. For example, who would have thought Newton’s laws could ever be contradicted? Yet, Albert Einstein and other scientists found that these laws could not explain certain complex problems. Quantum mechanics became the new guiding principle, though Newton’s laws are sufficiently accurate for most aspects of daily activity.

Darwinian evolution, like all theories, must also be open to further testing. Scientific evidence in such disciplines as molecular biology, genetics and paleontology do not support parts of Darwinian theory. In fact, some evidence seems to support the reality of an intelligent designer behind the complexity of life in our universe.

Such will be the focus of a fascinating symposium at the University. Michael Behe, author of “Darwin’s Black Box,” and 18 other experts in science, philosophy, theology and law will discuss the evidence for intelligent design and the banning of such information from our public schools. This theory attempts to answer questions insufficiently explained by Darwinian theory using scientific – not religious – evidence.

This Saturday, scientists, educators and students from across the nation will brave Minnesota weather to attend this symposium on Darwinian evolution and intelligent design at Willey Hall. For more information, visit www.intel


Critically analyzing diverse ideas is an important part of education. I commend the University for allowing students this opportunity.

Jean Swenson is a University graduate. She welcomes comments at [email protected]