Intelligent Design and ExtraDimensional Kin
On the practice of scientists displaying consensus through signing petitions
It has become fairly common for groups of scientists to sign a statement of support for some hypothesis they believe. For example, regarding climate change or regarding the origins of covid-19 or regarding race, genetics, and IQ. I sympathize with why they would do this and I don't think they should stop. But I think it is also important for "consumers" of science to be skeptical of those displays of consensus -- especially when they concern a topic that is deeply political or existential.
I highly suspect that the people who believe in the narrative of climate change that is being presented by big environmental activist organizations also believe in the idea that evolution is sufficient to explain life. I suspect that the same people who think that climate change will bring an apocalypse in a few decades, or even less, also think it ridiculous that biological life was designed intentionally by a god. However, I also suspect that many of those people have not studied the science of climate change deeply or for that matter the evolution of life--and yet still feel certain about the truth of their beliefs because of a consensus they believe that is held among scientists. Yet, given the number of scientists who now are around and the communication technology available, displays of consensus can be generated for lots of hypotheses quite easily. Given the number of scientists around now, 1000 may not be relatively a lot, but it still looks like a big number.
Regardless of the size of a consensus though, the truth of a scientific hypothesis should not be determined in any person's mind by the quantity of scientists who believe it. While I can sympathize the practical value of just using consensus of scientists as a short-cut to understanding how some things work, or trusting the truth of some things on perceived authority -- like say that airplanes won't fall from the sky or microwaves won't explode -- when people express doubt about an idea, especially ideas they haven't personally investigated deeply, that should be applauded as a reasonable expression of humility. And we certainly shouldn't expect people to understand all the intricate proofs of hypotheses that can take a lifetime to deeply understand, or took humans millions of years to generate.
Though, I do think we should expect people *not* to have certainty about something they haven't investigated deeply themselves. Evolution and intelligent design is one of those things that many people seem to have a lot of certainty about despite not having investigated the topic much; and they often employ a lot of social coercion to try to make it very difficult for people to independently come to conclusions themselves. There are some times when some Christians are guilty of trying to restrict the teaching of the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution though is now deeply entrenched in the culture of most of academia, to an extent that scientists who are skeptical of its capacity to explain biological life and want to give students an opportunity to explore the arguments for and against it in a science class may face difficulties with that.
Personally, I find the arguments for evolution compelling, and plausibly sufficient to explain biological life, but I have no opposition to hearing arguments against it or for the notion that life could only be explained by some sort of intelligent creator(s). I consider myself an atheist, but I do not sympathize with people who have no tolerance for the intellectual exploration of the possibility of this universe being created by some other intelligent being(s). I feel like the possibility--and plausibility--of intelligent design is a fascinating perspective. What many people, both those who are certain intelligent design is bunk, and those who are certain intelligent design underlies our world, often miss is that even if one could provide evidence the world is intelligently designed, no existing religion being true follows from that fact. The world could be intelligently designed... by a magical turtle.
If the world was created by intelligent beings, it doesn't mean Jehovah exists. Jehovah would be no more likely than Zeus. And much less likely than a team of supernatural aliens that wanted to create a simulated reality they could inject their consciousnesses into, given that we can easily realistically imagine ourselves doing the same thing in the not too distant future. Verily: what is the probability that it has not already been done and we are in it? Maybe they are even testing souls to determine how virtuous we are, including how committed we are to following the truth wherever our reason leads and limits us? And those most virtuous souls will be rewarded with titles and beach houses to live in for aeons.
A few hundred years ago Blaise Pascal, a Christian philosopher, mathematician, and physicist proposed that humans ought to have faith in God because having faith in God could send a person to heaven if God did exist but have no consequence if he didn't, while not having faith in God could send a person to hell if he did exist but have no consequence if he didn't exist. Thus, Pascal contended, a person should bet on God and have faith.
Unfortunately, what Pascal did not consider was that *his* god was possibly not God, and that depending on the God that does in fact exist, if a god exists at all, betting on Jehovah being God could mean not getting a beach house for aeons. In fact, if the supernatural aliens -- or our extradimensional kin -- are deeply contemptuous toward us worshipping monstrous imaginary deities without good reason, they could even decide to punish us. I don't think the Christians who want to have a class on intelligent design are betting on the notion that extradimensional kin created a simulated reality, but it is more plausible than Jehovah, so those atheists who are concerned about it being discussed in college science classes should chill--if they want a beach house in the next life.