Jonathan Wells Iconoclast and Molecular and Cell Biologist

Jonathan Wells

Iconoclast and Molecular and Cell Biologist

Jonathan Wells has received 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. A Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, he has previously worked as a postdoctoral research biologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the supervisor of a medical laboratory in Fairfield, California. He also taught biology at California State University in Hayward and continues to lecture on the subject.

Dr. Wells has published articles in Development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, BioSystems, The Scientist and The American Biology Teacher. He is the author of Charles Hodge’s Critique of Darwinism (Edwin Mellen Press, 1988), Icons of Evolution: Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong(Regnery Publishing, 2000), The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design (Regnery, 2006), and The Myth of Junk DNA (Discovery Institute Press, 2011). He is also co-author with William Dembski of The Design of Life (FTE, 2008). His latest book, Zombie Science (Discovery Institute Press, 2017), shows how evolutionary theory — “though empirically dead” — continues to stalk our scientific and educational institutions.

Dr. Wells is currently doing research and writing on developmental information in embryos that is outside of, and inherited independently of, their DNA.

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Zombie Science

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 evidence. Discredited icons of evolution rise from the dead while more icons — equally bogus — join their ranks. Like a B horror movie, they just keep coming! Zombies are make believe, but zombie science is real — and it threatens not just science, but our whole culture. Is there a solution? Wells is sure of it, and points the way.

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Next Phase of ENCODE Finds MORE Functional Information in Genome “Junk”

The first publications from the ENCODE project (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) made a big splash at Evolution News in 2013, and around the world, because it undermined the “junk DNA” myth and simultaneously fulfilled an ID prediction: that non-coding parts of the genome would prove functional. Junk-DNA proponents like Dan Graur were upset at the time, admitting as Jonathan Wells reported, “If ENCODE is right, evolution is wrong.”  Well, ModENCODE (ENCODE for model organisms) found “unprecedented complexity” in the fruit fly genome in 2014, then “ENCODE 2” followed up with more discoveries of function. Now, ENCODE 3 has just finished submitting its reports, with record numbers of DNA annotations listed, and ENCODE 4 is gearing up. Nothing

Strickberger’s Evolution Textbook Promotes False Evolutionary Icons

Editor’s note: Dr. Shedinger is a Professor of Religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He is the author of a recent book critiquing Darwinian triumphalism, The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms. See also the earlier entries in this series:  "Darwinian Mythology in Strickberger’s Evolution" "The Triumphalism of Strickberger’s Evolution" Twenty years ago, Jonathan Wells published one of the seminal books of the intelligent design movement, Icons of Evolution. Wells demonstrated how biology textbooks perpetuate a standard set of ideas and images purporting to support Darwinian evolution even though these iconic ideas and images are far more ambiguous than the textbooks portray. Here I will consider the appearance of some of these icons in Strickberger’s

“Live Not by Lies”: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Intelligent Design

I got involved in the intelligent design movement before I became a Christian, although the insight that ID offered became important in my conversion. I had been an atheist, or at least an agnostic. I took a Randian (as in Ayn Rand) perspective on religion: religion was just another form of rent-seeking for priests, a way of making a living by plying a lie.  I thought God didn’t exist, not because I had worked out the arguments and came to that conclusion (like most atheists I understood virtually nothing about the real arguments), but because, as Laplace reportedly said to Napoleon about God, “I have no need of that hypothesis.” Life was in need of explanation, and Darwin provided it. Man, and all living things, evolved by variation and selection, from some primordial

Whale Song: Learning from Our Critics

I think of intelligent design critics as forming a hierarchy, with some of more interest than others. There are really high level ones (Charles Marshall, for example, or Jeremy England), formidable scholars who have put serious thought into their critiques. And those are the best. From some critics, of course, there’s nothing to be learned. They substitute rude insults for arguments, and there's little more to it than that. In between, others at least provide a solid chance for conversation, even if their table manners aren’t the best. Biologist P.Z. Myers falls into this category. He critiqued our recent video about whale evolution, an entry in the brief, accessible, and humorous Long Story Short series. He was joined by another critic I’d never heard of before, Jackson

Walking Whales: Get a Free Chapter of Zombie Science

“Darwin thought that bears could turn into whales,” explains the droll narrator of the recent superb Discovery Institute video, “Whale Evolution: Good Evidence for Darwin?” It’s part of the Long Story Short series that identifies problems with evolutionary theory in the most compact, accessible, and charming manner. Since Darwin, facing laughter from his own contemporaries, scrubbed the whale/bear connection from the second edition of the Origin of Species, the origin of whales has remained a sore point for evolutionists, on which they’ve tried to perform a miraculous transformation. Today, Darwin defenders brandish the whale as no less than an evolutionary icon. Yesterday, the animator of the Long Story series replied to critics of the whale video — with a new

Unwary Darwinists Swallowed Whole by Seemingly Unthreatening Whale Video

In reality, whales are gentle and gorgeous giants. But in legend, they are monsters, their bulk concealed below the ocean surface, posing a terrible hidden danger to the unwary. Monstro, for example, is the whale that swallows Pinocchio and Geppetto in the 1940 Disney cartoon. Two Darwinists, P.Z. Myers and Jackson Wheat, were likewise incautious in challenging a recent Long Story Short video about whale evolution. The lighthearted animation from Discovery Institute topples a Darwinist icon, said to be “one of our best examples of an evolutionary transition” known to Darwinian diehards. If whales are the best they’ve got, they’re in trouble. A Soft Target? Myers is an atheist biologist who grumps about “A whopper of a creationist

In the NGSS, a Dogmatic Standard on Evolution

Inaccurate teaching about evolution is widespread, as Jonathan Wells’s review of textbooks shows. The 2013 Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS, which most states have adopted verbatim or used to inform their science standards) are one sided on the issue as well. I’ve recently been perusing Proficiency Scales for the New Science Standards: A Framework for Science Instruction and Assessment, by Robert J. Marzano and David C. Yanoski. Marzano is a big name in education. The Marzano Framework and the Danielson Framework are the two most prominent teacher evaluation models. Proficiency scales are frameworks that help teachers grade students according to a state standard, to measure their progress of learning.  This book provides proficiency scales for each of the NGSS.

What Scientists Know

Our scientific elites insist that the “scientific consensus” be accepted without question, and that to raise doubts (about climate change, about the mind-body relationship, you name it) is “science-denial” or “anti-intellectualism.”  On Darwinian evolution, questioning the consensus now merits suppression by the government. As readers of Evolution News are likely aware, the science journal BioEssays recently demanded censorship of intelligent design, mandated by the government if Internet search engines resist. The author of the article, biologist Dave Speijer, singled out Evolution News for this treatment. After the BioEssays article was published, biologist Jonathan Wells recounted a relevant story: Some years ago I submitted an article on cell biology to

Zombie History — Using Galileo to Whack Intelligent Design

A useful myth is hard to put down. The Galileo myth gives a premiere illustration. Ever since John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White fostered the “warfare thesis” of “science vs religion” in the late 19th century, appealing to the Galileo affair as the example par excellence, historians have had little luck convincing the scientific establishment that their version of the Galileo story is flawed. Fortunately, we have the new book by Michael Keas to help set the story straight: Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion. Keas traces the development of the warfare thesis through the 19th century. Despite being largely discredited by historians, the warfare thesis lives on into our time. For instance, Mario Livio has a new book out,

On Intelligent Design, an Italian Philosophy Journal Takes a Step in the Right Direction

Philosophers are making some important and interesting contributions to the conversation about biological origins. Earlier today we saw that philosopher Subrena E. Smith registered a harsh critique of evolutionary psychology in the journal Biological Theory, even saying that evo psych explanations are “impossible.” Now, a new paper in the Italian philosophy journal Humana Mente, “Residuals of Intelligent Design in Contemporary Theories about Language Nature and Origins,” observes that the arguments of intelligent design proponents are applicable to many explanations of the origins of language. The authors are cognitive scientists at the University of Messina, and although the English translation isn’t always easy to follow and some of their ideas about ID are both dated and

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