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FAQ: What prompts a group of people to challenge the dominant scientific paradigm?

The Short Answer: People begin to question a paradigm when it no longer fits with the observed data.

The Long Answer: The answer to this question certainly isn't because they want fame, glory, and acceptance by their peers. Those who question dominant paradigms are nearly always treated with skepticism and often become outcasts or are treated as outsiders within the field where the dominant paradigm reigns. But scientists who simply who question dominant paradigms usually do so for the following reasons:
  • People begin to realize that a paradigm is inadequate and defective in explaining the observed data.
  • A deep sense of dissatisfaction with the evidence that supports the current theory becomes widespread.
  • New ideas become formulated which can better explain the data than can the dominant, but stale paradigm.
  • Is this challenge happening?
    Yes. There are, and have been for many years, large numbers of examples of areas where Darwinian thought might fail, and many areas where it undoubtedly will fail. Philosophers of science such as Kuhn say that the history of science shows that scientific paradigms do not get replaced until they become stale and are unable to explain more and more evidence. Only then are they replaced. (Paradigms shifts also often happen when the "old guard" who believed in the old theory literally dies, and new thinkers emerge to take their places). Though many have recognized problems with Darwinian theory in the past, a resurgence in doubts of evolutionary theory seems to be growing in recent years as more and new biochemical data has been said by many to disconfirm evolutionary theory. Perhaps if the "old guard" who protects evolutionary theory from public scientific doubt is restrained, then truth can be better taught and explored, and eventually when education opens up the minds of scientists to problems with Darwinism and strengths of intelligent design, opposition will die.