Jonathan Wells Iconoclast and Molecular and Cell Biologist

Articles

On Evolution, Can’t We All Just Get Along?

On February 10, 2020, Lutheran theologian Ted Peters published an online article titled “Fighting over Evolution. Why?“ He concluded that “a culture war is raging, to be sure. But, this is not a war between science and faith.” I agree completely — if by “science” we mean empirical science. Empirical science searches for the truth by proposing hypotheses and comparing them with the evidence. If a hypothesis is consistent with the evidence we tentatively take it to be true. If it is inconsistent with the evidence we revise it or reject it as false. In reality, things can get a bit more complicated. But this is science at its best. A Different Meaning Yet “science” has taken on a different meaning in the modern world. For many people, “science” is the search

Cancel Culture Comes to Poland

The term “cancel culture” has recently come to mean the practice of boycotting, or denying a speaking platform to, people whose ideas are considered offensive. I experienced it recently in Warsaw, Poland. Fundacja En Arche (the En Arche Foundation, or roughly, the Origins Foundation) is a Polish group that focuses on the scientific and philosophical issues of Darwinism and intelligent design. Although often labeled “creationist,” it is not about biblical creationism (whether young Earth or old Earth). In many ways it is a lot like Discovery Institute.  A Job Well Done A major part of the foundation’s work so far has been translating into Polish books such as Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Michael Behe’s

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

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

About the Book Is most of our genome garbage? 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 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.

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.

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