More than 400 scientists from all disciplines have signed onto a growing list of skeptics of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life, according to the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.

“Darwin’s theory of evolution is the great white elephant of contemporary thought,” said David Berlinski, a mathematician and philosopher of science with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, or CSC. “It is large, almost completely useless, and the object of superstitious awe.”

The Discovery Institute, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, first published its Statement of Dissent from Darwin in 2001.

The think tank challenged statements made in the PBS “Evolution” series, which claimed that no scientists disagreed with Darwinian evolution.

“The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,” said John G. West, associate director of the CSC. “We expect that as scientists engage in the wider debate over materialist evolutionary theories, this list will continue to grow, and grow at an even more rapid pace than we’ve seen this past year.”

The institute says that in the past three months, 29 scientists, including eight biologists, have signed the statement, which includes more than 70 biologists.

Two prominent Russian biologists from Moscow State University, Lev V. Beloussov and Vladimir L. Voeikov, are recent signers.

Voeikov is a professor of bioorganic chemistry and Beloussov is a professor of embryology. Both are members of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.

Voeikov said, “The ideology and philosophy of neo-Darwinism which is sold by its adepts as a scientific theoretical foundation of biology seriously hampers the development of science and hides from students the field’s real problems.”

West says the talk in media about “science vs. religion” is misleading.

“This list is a witness to the growing group of scientists who challenge Darwinian theory on scientific grounds,” he said.

Other prominent biologists who have signed the list include evolutionary biologist and textbook author Stanley Salthe;Richard von Sternberg an evolutionary biologist at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information;and Giuseppe Sermonti, Editor of Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum.

The list also includes scientists from Princeton, Cornell, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Ohio State University, Purdue and the University of Washington.

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