Darwinian Fundamentalism Index

How loyal a disciple of Charles Darwin’s are you, really? Take this test and find out. Higher scores indicate increasing loyalty to Darwin and his ideas. At the extreme, loyalty to Darwin becomes unreflective, dogmatic, and immune to countervailing evidence. In other words, it becomes a form of Darwinian fundamentalism. Hence the name of this test, the Darwinian Fundamentalism Index (DFI).

Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are coming to regard fundamentalism, whether religious or secular, as harmful to society and as a form of mental disturbance. In fact, “fundamentalist personality disorder” is increasingly being mooted for inclusion in the upcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM VI). At the same time, Darwinian fundamentalism is enormously influential in American culture and goes unchallenged in American biology classrooms, where it has become textbook orthodoxy.

The Test
The DFI was commissioned and developed by a cross-disciplinary team with expertise in psychological testing, social psychology, philosophy, and biology. Because the dominant form of fundamentalism in biology is Darwinian, the DFI focuses on Darwinian fundamentalism.

Taking The Test
The DFI consists of 40 pairs of statements. For each pair, select the statement with which you more nearly agree. This is a forced-choice test. For some statement pairs, you may not feel comfortable with either choice, but do the best you can. The correct Darwinian answer is marked with a hash sign (#) — add one for each such answer. The test is short and will take only a few minutes to complete.

Use of this inventory is strictly for educational purposes. It must not be taken as offering psychological advice. It must not be taken as a proof of biological orthodoxy. Take this test only if you are interested in learning about Darwinian fundamentalism and how it is assessed.

Only scores close to zero indicates someone uninfected by Darwinian fundamentalism.


Evolution in the sense that all present-day organisms arose from one or a few ancestors (common descent) is now a proven fact.#
Evolution in that sense is still an unproven hypothesis.

The theory of natural selection (i.e., retention of chance variations) adequately explains common descent.#
Even assuming full-blown evolution to be a fact, the theory of natural selection does not adequately explain it.

The theory of natural selection accounts for the phenomenon of adaptation—and thus the appearance of design—in organisms.#
For an organism to be selected it must already be well adapted; therefore, the theory of natural selection begs the question of the origin of adaptations (or design).

The formula “survival of the fittest” amounts to “survival of the survivors,” suggesting that the theory of natural selection is empirically empty, or even a tautology.
“Survival of the fittest” is a useful short-hand formula for characterizing the theory of natural selection.#

Although Charles Darwin is an important figure in the history of science, the conceptual importance of natural selection has been significantly exaggerated.
Natural selection is one of the greatest ideas ever, and conceiving of it put Darwin in the company of Newton and Einstein.#

Because Darwin’s birthday falls on the same day as Abraham Lincoln’s (February 12, 1809), if Americans were to celebrate one or the other, we should celebrate Darwin Day.#
Lincoln’s impact on the U.S. and the world was far more positive than Darwin’s and we should continue to celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday as it is.

Darwinism, suitably updated, is good 21st-century science.#
Darwinism is a relic of 19th-century science; Darwin’s work has now been largely superseded.

Darwin shared many of the conventional opinions of his day, including the superiority of the white race.
Darwin embodies humanity at its best and deserves the status of a secular saint.#

Darwin’s ideas and their unintended consequences have done great harm.
The world would be a better place if everyone had to learn about Darwin’s ideas.#

Hostility toward evolution is a major factor in the decline of American educational standards in relation to international standards.#
Other factors (such as classroom disorder and the breakdown of the family) have contributed more to the decline of American educational standards than hostility toward evolution.

Public school biology teachers in the U.S. should be free to teach what they can defend to be true based on evidence.
Public school biology teachers in the U.S. should be required to teach the received views of professional evolutionary biologists.#

In Kitzmiller v. Dover, Judge John E. Jones III ruled that it is illegal to “disparage or denigrate” Darwinism in the public schools; Judge Jones decided this case correctly.#
By suppressing dissent and creating a state-imposed ideology in America, Judge Jones’s ruling parallels Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union.

Darwin’s theory of evolution is as well supported scientifically as Einstein’s theory of general relativity.#
Putting Darwin’s theory of evolution in the same league as Einstein’s theory of general relativity is an affront to the exact sciences.

The Darwin Awards, given to people who kill themselves due to their rash or foolish actions, reflect an unhealthy cynicism and low view of humanity.
The Darwin Awards rightly recognize individuals for contributing to human evolution by weeding themselves out of the gene pool through their stupidity.#

The eugenics movement—which led to the mass sterilization of people deemed “defective” in the United States and to mass murder in Germany—was largely based on Darwin’s ideas.
To lay the eugenics movement at Darwin’s feet is highly disreputable.#

Living things are collections of ordinary chemical elements organized in particular ways; there is nothing physically distinctive about life.#
The “living state of matter” is physically distinctive, implying the existence of special causal powers that inorganic systems do not possess.

Living things are basically just vehicles for their genes.#
Genes play a necessary but not sufficient causal role in living things.

Organisms, while highly complex, are fundamentally no different from humanly constructed machines.#
Organisms are essentially different from humanly constructed machines.

The concept of “junk DNA” was a major scientific blunder directly attributable to Darwinian thinking.
Darwinian thinking advanced science by correctly characterizing non-coding DNA regions as “junk DNA.”#

Darwin speculated that life began in a “warm little pond”; in this, as with so many of his ideas, he was remarkably prescient.#
Nobody today has any real insight into how life began.

Human beings are fundamentally different from all other animals.
Human beings are basically no different from other animals.#

The most important fact about human beings is our capacity for reason and language.
Human mental capacities are a minor and superficial adaptation of an unexceptional primate.#

Human beings can freely choose what to do.
Free will is an illusion.#

The capacity for mature love is one of the noblest aspects of human nature.
Humans experience “love” as the result of oxytocin and other hormones coursing through the body—just as for other mammals.#

Referring to “kin selection,” J.B.S. Haldane remarked: “I would gladly lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins”; this principle helps us to understand the nature of human altruism.
Mother Teresa (who ministered to dying homeless people in Kolkata) and holocaust rescuers (who risked their lives to help Jews escape Nazi death camps) have more to teach us about human altruism than kin selection.#

Some things (like killing innocents) are absolutely wrong.
Nothing is right or wrong except in relation to its consequences, especially for one’s genes.#

Rape is morally wrong because it treats an autonomous human person as an object.
Rape is properly viewed as an adaptation in early hominid males to help them spread their genes.#

If scientists could crossbreed a human and chimpanzee to form a hybrid “humanzee,” it would be a triumph and cause for celebration.#
Hybridizing a human being with a chimpanzee or any other animal is likely to be biologically impossible and, in any case, would be a moral outrage.

Goodness, truth, and beauty are illusions that helped our hominid ancestors to survive.#
Goodness, truth, and beauty are objectively real norms that guide human belief and action.

The motivations of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice cannot be understood at the deepest level without a knowledge of evolutionary theory.#
Jane Austen had no need of evolutionary theory to understand human motivations at the deepest level relevant to literature.

Memes are the units of selection of human culture, much as genes are the units of selection of organismic traits.#
Meme theory is a crude caricature of the way human beings come up with new ideas and share them with one another.

Richard Dawkins is a distinguished scientist who deserves a Nobel Prize.#
Richard Dawkins is a brilliant popularizer who has not done any original scientific work in decades.

Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.#
The atheist worldview still contains major conceptual gaps.

Religion is a legitimate activity in which humans try to understand and make contact with what is ultimately real.
Religion is an irrational response to unknown causes operating in nature; as we understand nature better, religion will disappear.#

Due to our uncontrolled population growth, human beings have become a scourge upon the earth not unlike cancer.#
Human beings are the crown of creation.

Third-world economic development to relieve poverty is more important than preserving biological diversity at all costs.
Preserving biological diversity is more important than third-world economic development.#

Purpose, value, and meaning are “folk-psychology” categories that do not correspond to anything in reality.#
Purpose, value, and meaning are objectively real.

Darwinian evolutionary theory has weaknesses and those who point them out should be tolerated, if not applauded.
Darwinian evolutionary theory has no weaknesses and those who say it does are usually religiously motivated.#

Intelligent design, as a voice of dissent, does useful work in keeping the evolutionary biology community honest.
Intelligent design has no intellectual merits and deserves no public hearing.#

The theory of natural selection is a “universal acid” that dissolves every problem in the biological and social sciences; Darwinian theory explains virtually everything.#
A theory that explains everything explains nothing; for all practical purposes, Darwinian theory is unfalsifiable and so is essentially unscientific.