Jonathan Wells
Jonathan Wells
Jonathan Wells Molecular and Cell Biologist and Senior Fellow, Center for Science & Culture

Jonathan Wells

Dr. Wells is an expert on biology textbooks and biology science curriculum as it relates to Darwinian evolution.

Jonathan Wells is a well known critic of Darwinian evolution. As such he has received unwarranted attention, and slandering, from the dogmatic Darwinian elitists in academia. Be sure to read The Real Truth about Jonathan Wells: Responding to Smears against the Author of Icons of Evolution.

Dr. Wells is also one of the nation’s leading advocates for intelligent design, which is the theory that simply states that some features of life and the universe are better explained as the result of an intelligent agent than purely random, unguided processes. 

Wells has two Ph.D.s, one in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and one in Religious Studies from Yale University. He has worked as a postdoctoral research biologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the supervisor of a medical laboratory in Fairfield, California, and he has taught biology at California State University in Hayward. 

Dr. Wells has published articles in Development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USABioSystemsThe Scientist and The American Biology Teacher. His most recent books are The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design (Regnery, 2007), and The Design of Life (FTE, 2007) which he co-authored with Dr. William Dembski. He is also author of Charles Hodge’s Critique of Darwinism (Edwin Mellen Press, 1988) and Icons of Evolution: Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong (Regnery, 2000). 

Dr. Wells is currently working on a book criticizing the over-emphasis on genes in biology and medicine.

Recent Articles

Meeting Phil Johnson at Berkeley

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is currently sharing remembrances from Fellows of Discovery Institute. Dr. Wells is the author most recently of Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution. In 1991 I was a graduate student in molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley when I heard that a Berkeley law professor had just published a book critical of Darwinism. Although I was quietly a critic of Darwinism, I resisted reading the book because most of the critiques of Darwinian evolution I had already seen were either focused on the age of the Earth or they were embarrassingly shoddy. It seemed unlikely that a law professor could do any better. A

Is Gender in Penguins a Human Construct?

“Gay penguins at London aquarium are raising ‘genderless’ chick.” So announced NBC News on September 10, 2019. The penguins are of the Gentoo species. According to the Irish Post, “Staff have taken the decision not to describe the Gentoo penguin as either male or female because they say gender is more of a human construct.” The penguins caring for the chick at the London aquarium are both females. There have also been reports of two male penguins caring for chicks. In Gentoos and other penguin species, males share responsibility with females to incubate eggs. Penguins have no external genitalia. Even as adults, the males and females can be difficult to tell apart. In many cases, the only way to distinguish reliably between male and female penguins is to examine

An Unintended Endorsement of Marcos Eberlin’s New Book, Foresight

Some reviews that try to make a book look bad are so ill-informed and malicious that they actually make a good book look better. A person who calls himself or herself “Puck Mendelssohn” (hereafter PM) on Amazon, and “Darwin’s Bullfinch” in his or her profile, has long ridiculed books critical of Darwinism or supportive of intelligent design. PM’s latest hatchet job mocks Brazilian chemist Marcos Eberlin’s new book, Foresight: How the Chemistry of Life Reveals Planning and Purpose. Obligatory Sneering After some obligatory sneering (which dismisses most Americans as “rubes” and Eberlin’s internationally recognized expertise in mass spectrometry as “not a promising start”), PM calls Eberlin’s argument even looser and sloppier than Michael Behe’s argument

Why the Design in Living Things Goes Far Beyond Machinery

Seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes conceived of living things as complex machines, a concept now known as the “machine metaphor.” In 1998, Bruce Alberts (who was then president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences) wrote that “the entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines.”1 In Salvo 20, Casey Luskin wrote about how such machines pose a problem for unguided evolution and provide evidence for intelligent design (ID).2 Luskin focused on three molecular machines in particular: ATP synthase, which operates like a rotary engine, recharges molecules of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which in turn provide energy for just

Science and Faith — A Report from Colombia

Are science and faith incompatible or complementary? From November 7 to 9, 2018, Richard Sternberg and I from Discovery Institute joined three other speakers in Bogotá, Colombia, to address this question before a large audience at the First International Congress of Science and Faith. I would have posted this report much sooner, but after returning from Bogotá I came down with a bad case of the flu. By the time I recovered the holidays were upon us, and I found myself preoccupied with our visiting children and grandchildren. I apologize for the long delay. The Congress was held at a Roman Catholic private school, Liceo de Cervantes, which is affiliated with the Catholic university Unicervantina. Its principal organizers were Fr. Ronal Antívar and Mr. Fernando Loaiza, and

Evolution Miseducation at the University of Utah

If you want your sons and daughters to be well educated about evolution, then hope their biology teachers don’t rely on materials from the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah. The GSLC created evolution learning materials for classrooms nationwide with National Science Foundation funding.  The Center produced a four-minute video titled “The Unity and Diversity of Life” to educate its students about evolution. The video begins by pointing out that “life has existed on Earth for a very, very long time,” and even though we now share the planet with millions of diverse species the “DNA evidence strongly supports the idea that all living things share a common ancestor.” Except that it doesn’t.  “Unresolved” Relationships If all living

Does Cancer Disprove Intelligent Design?

Critics of intelligent design (ID) sometimes argue that if the human body were designed, it would be perfect. Among other things, we would not suffer from diseases such as cancer. Defenders of ID point out that this criticism is misplaced. Design does not imply perfection. Many things we know to be designed (such as cars) are imperfect. The “argument from imperfection” against ID is implicitly a theological argument, namely, that God is the designer and anything designed by God must be perfect. ID does not make that claim.  But cancer is now being used as an argument against ID in another sense. Writing at the BioLogos website, which presents “an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation,”1 computational biologist Joshua Swamidass has argued that “cancer

From Bears to Whales: A Difficult Transition

Charles Darwin wrote in the first edition of The Origin of Species that North American black bears had been seen  swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.1 Critics laughed at this, and Darwin removed it from later editions of his book, though he continued privately to believe it. Yet it would take a lot more than an enlarged mouth to turn a bear into a whale.  Some

Darwin’s House of Cards Gets Praise — And Underinformed Criticism

In 2016, veteran journalist Tom Bethell published Darwin’s House of Cards: A Journalist's Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates. Bethell’s odyssey spanned several decades, and the book includes his own interviews with some major figures on both sides of it. As Bethell acknowledges in his book, I helped with the editing of it. I have a Berkeley PhD in biology, specializing in development and evolution. I am also a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute, which published Bethell’s book. Recently, BYU professor Dan Peterson blogged about it. Peterson found Darwin’s House of Cards “extremely stimulating” and hoped that “many will seriously engage it.” Several people then posted responses on Peterson’s blog. One critic of the book, using the pseudonym “Prop 8,” asked

The Perfect Human Body?

We all know that the human body can suffer from flaws. For most people, that doesn’t mean our bodies are accidental by-products of unguided evolution. Instead, they are designed — despite the fact that they sometimes start out flawed or become flawed as they grow older. For English anatomist Alice Roberts, however, the human body is a “hodge-podge” of parts assembled in an “untidy” fashion “with no foresight” by evolution. So, like many evolutionary biologists before her, she set out with some colleagues to “design and build the Perfect Body.” Her results were aired on BBC Four on June 13, 2018. According to Roberts, the Perfect Human Body would have ears like cats and lungs like birds. (Of course, bird lungs would require

Article Archives

Zombie Science

More Icons of Evolution
About the Book In 2000, biologist Jonathan Wells took the science world by storm with Icons of Evolution, a book showing how biology textbooks routinely promote Darwinism using bogus evidence—icons of evolution like Ernst Haeckel’s faked embryo drawings and peppered moths glued to tree trunks. Critics of the book complained that Wells had merely gathered up a handful of innocent textbook errors and blown them out of proportion. Now, in Zombie Science, Wells asks a simple question: If the icons of evolution were just innocent textbook errors, why do so many of them still persist? Science has enriched our lives and led to countless discoveries. But now, Wells argues, it’s being corrupted. Empirical science is devolving into zombie science, shuffling along unfazed by opposing

The Myth of Junk DNA

A number of leading proponents of Darwinian evolution claim that “junk DNA”—the non-protein-coding DNA that makes up more than 95% of our genome—provides decisive evidence for Darwin’s theory and against intelligent design, since an intelligent designer would not have littered our genome with so much garbage. In The Myth of Junk DNA, biologist and senior Discovery Institute fellow Jonathan Wells exposes their claim as an anti-scientific myth that ignores the evidence, relies on illegitimate theological speculations, and impedes biomedical research. Far from consisting mainly of junk, the genome is increasingly revealing itself to be a multidimensional, integrated system in which non-protein-coding DNA performs a wide variety of essential biological functions. If anything, the

Dawkins and Darwin's Three-Ring Circus

A review of: The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Review The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution Richard Dawkins (New York: Free Press, 2009) Some years ago an anonymous well-wisher sent Richard Dawkins a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Evolution: The Greatest Show on Earth.” The T-shirt inspired Dawkins with the title for his latest book, which he describes as his “personal summary of the evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution is actually a fact—as incontrovertible a fact as any in science” (p. vii). Dawkins is a good writer, and his book is quite entertaining, so it is appropriate that he named it after the famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus. Let’s imagine The Greatest Show on Earth as a three-ring circus being performed before an audience of farm families somewhere in the Midwest. The

The Party's Over

The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day. They’ve burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away. It’s time to wind up the masquerade. Just make your mind up — the piper must be paid. The party’s over, the candles flicker and dim. You danced and dreamed through the night, it seemed to be right just being with him. Now you must wake up, all dreams must end. Take off your make up, the party’s over. It’s all over, my friend. — “The Party’s Over” (Words by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; music by Jule Styne; performed by Nat King Cole)  Darwin Year is drawing to a close. The festivities went into full swing on February 12 (Darwin’s 200th birthday), with parties at hundreds of locations in scores of countries. There

Deepening Darwin's Dilemma

The newly released film “Darwin’s Dilemma” argues that the geologically abrupt appearance of the major groups of animals (the “phyla”) in the Cambrian Explosion posed a serious problem for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (as he himself knew), and that subsequent fossil discoveries—far from solving the problem—have made it worse. In January 2009, however, the Journal of the Geological Society, London published an article titled “A solution to Darwin’s dilemma of 1859.” So, is Darwin’s dilemma solved, or not? According to Darwin’s theory, all living things are modified descendants of a common ancestor. New species do not appear abruptly, but evolve from pre-existing species through a continuous series of intermediate forms. The history of life could then be

Moving the Goalpost

“Folks, this is one of the most exciting games in Super Bowl history! In case you just tuned in, here’s what’s happening: With only 8 seconds to go, the Buffalo Bills are trailing the New York Giants 20-19, but in the past two minutes Bills quarterback Jim Kelley has moved his team to the Giants’ 29-yard line, setting up kicker Scott Norwood for a field goal attempt. If Norwood makes it, the Buffalo Bills will win 22-20.” Watched by tens of thousands in Tampa Stadium and millions more on TV, the Buffalo Bills line up for what will probably be their last play. “OK, there’s the snap, and the kick. The ball is going, going—but it’s drifting wide to the right. Wait a minute! Some Bills players have pulled up the goalpost, and they’re moving it over—just in time!

Why Darwinism Is False

Jerry A. Coyne is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at The University of Chicago. In Why Evolution is True, he summarizes Darwinism—the modern theory of evolution—as follows: “Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species—perhaps a self-replicating molecule—that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection.”1 Coyne further explains that evolution “simply means that a species undergoes genetic change over time. That is, over many generations a species can evolve into something quite different, and those differences are based on changes in the DNA, which originate as mutations. The

Happy Darwin Day?

Today marks the bicentennial of two notable birthdays, Abraham Lincoln’s and Charles Darwin’s. Lincoln is a hero to many Americans, but an international campaign is now under way to declare Feb. 12 Darwin Day. According to many of his modern followers, Darwin is the world’s greatest scientist, and his theory is the cornerstone of modern biology – if not the whole of modern science. What, exactly, is Darwin’s theory? It is not just “evolution.” Evolution can mean “change over time,” which no sane person denies. Or it can mean life on Earth has a long history, documented by the fossil record. Yet the general outlines of the fossil record were established before “The Origin of Species” appeared in 1859. And biblical chronology

The Problem Of Evidence

The present controversy over evolution is often portrayed as the latest battle in a centuries-old war between science and religion. According to this stereotype, Darwin’s theory was a milestone in scientific progress, based on evidence that is now overwhelming, and its principal opponents were—and still are—religious fundamentalists committed to a literal interpretation of Genesis chronology. That stereotype, however, is false. First, the “warfare” metaphor is historically inaccurate. With rare exceptions, such as the Galileo affair, science and religion got along just fine before Darwin. Second, the problem is not “evolution”—which means many things—but rather Darwin’s theory that all living things are descendants of a common ancestor that have