"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."
This list is obviously used by creationists as evidence that the scientific community is in disagreement about the truth of evolution. Now, for starters let's overlook the fact that many of these people hold PhDs in subjects completely unrelated to evolution, such as computing, engineering, philosophy, mathematics or astronomy (it seems to be a common idea among creationists that if you hold a PhD you have the authority to discuss any aspect of science and that your opinion has the same worth as that of an expert in the field).
Let's also overlook the fact that scientific truth is not decided by petitions or popular vote. Science isn't a democracy, the truth is the truth, and always will be, and even if the creationists triumph and the teaching of evolution in schools is replaced by creationism, that won't change the fact that we evolved.
Take a closer look at the statement these doctors are in support of. Notice that the statement does not say that these scientists think the theory of evolution is wrong, it doesn't even say that they disagree with it on a personal level. Just that they are skeptical of it, and believe it should be subjected to testing rather than accepted on faith. But this is exactly how ALL good scientists should approach ANY theory or idea. It is, in fact, a fairly succinct definition of the scientific method. All scientific theories should be treated with skepticism and subjected to tests. It's how the good theories are weedled out from the bad. Those theories that fail the testing are adandoned and those that pass are retained. And unfortunately for the creationists, the theory of evolution, just like quantum theory or the theory of relativity, has so far passed all rigorous scientific testing with flying colors.
So now I must admit that I'm also a PhD holder who agrees completely with the above statement. Will I sign the petition? Absolutely not, because I'm well aware of the purpose behind it; it's pure creationist propaganda designed to mislead the general public, cheap trickery and nothing more. It's a perfect example of creationist sleight-of-hand, a tactic they must rely on, having no evidence of their own.
It is perhaps the "softness" of the statement that has allowed so many professionals to feel safe to sign it and provide their personal details. I wonder how many of them would sign up in support of the following:
"We believe that evolution by natural selection alone cannot explain the diversity of life."
At a first glance this seems pretty much the same as the original statement, but it's fundamentally different. This second statement is truly dissent from Darwin, and is exactly how the organizers of the petition are hoping the general public will understand their version.
Shame on the 700 PhD holders participating in this charade.