Jonathan Wells Iconoclast and Molecular and Cell Biologist

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Read breaking and archived news from Evolution.News related to Jonathan Wells and his work.

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

Whale of a Webinar Debuts a Delightful “Long Story Short” Video

Today Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture hosted a webinar on whale evolution, and it was way oversubscribed. We apologize to anyone who wasn’t able to make it into the crowded virtual seminar room. Robert Crowther welcomed biologists Jonathan Wells and Richard Sternberg, and they discussed the new “Long Story Short” video, “A Whale of an Evolution Tale,” and much else. Responding to questions from the audience, they ranged across the thoughts of Theodosius Dobzhansky, David Berlinski, and James Shapiro, microevolution versus macroevolution, the thorny problems of convergent evolution and of waiting times, fruit fly experiments and how echolocation in bats and dolphins differ, and much else. They were joined by a surprise guest, the video’s animator,

Whale Evolution — Believe It or Not? Register by Thursday for Webinar with Sternberg and Wells!

Darwin thought whales possibly evolved from…bears. Measured for implausibility, that’s not far off from speculations by evolutionists today. Whales, in fact, are an evolutionary icon, tirelessly advanced by Darwin defenders as a magnificent demonstration of unguided evolution by blind, material processes alone. Prominent atheist biologist Jerry Coyne calls whale fossils “one of our best examples of an evolutionary transition.” These arguments get a wonderfully entertaining sendup in the upcoming “Long Story Short” video, “Whale of an Evolution Tale,” just 10 minutes long, from Discovery Institute. Our FREE online debut and live discussion on the topic, a Zoom webinar, is this Thursday, April 23, at 4 pm Pacific time or 7 pm Eastern. Want to join us? The deadline to

Squid’s Got Talent — Super-Powers Astonish Scientists

They swim. They shine. They camouflage themselves. The humble squid astonishes scientists with its super-powers. Are these marine champions really the products of random mutations and natural selection? Just saying so is not convincing when you look at the facts. Ranging in size from fingerlings to sea monsters, squid look like visitors from an alien planet. So do the other main groups within cephalopods (“head-foot”), the octopuses and cuttlefish. Those cousins are no less extraordinary, but recent news and research showcase the talent of these amazing creatures. (Note: “squid” can be both singular and plural; as with fish, it’s “one squid, two squid, red squid, blue squid.” But “squids” is acceptable, especially if talking about different species. The size range

Evolution, Intelligent Design, and the Coronavirus: Biologist Jonathan Wells Explains

On a new episode of ID the Future, biologist and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Wells talks with host Andrew McDiarmid and tackles questions of evolution and intelligent design as they relate to the novel coronavirus SARS CoV-2. Download the podcast or listen to it here. Is the coronavirus a product of evolution, in the sense of Darwin’s Origin of Species? Wells argues to the contrary: It’s not a new species; in fact viruses aren’t even considered living species. Does modern evolutionary theory guide medicine’s response? Not when you consider that most of the major treatments being used and pursued actually preceded Darwin. Is intelligent design involved? Yes and no, Wells says. Listen in to get his take on this and more. Photo: Jonathan Wells, via

Zoom Webinar with Wells, Sternberg on Whale Evolution; Join Us on April 23!

Darwinists often point to the whale fossil record as one of the best examples of an evolutionary transition. But is it? Charles Darwin wrote in The Origin of Species: “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.” Bears turning into whales? Scientists today disagree, instead claiming that other land animals were the real precursors to today’s whales. “Just think of all the parameters that would have to be modified,” says biologist and Center for Science & Culture Senior Fellow Richard Sternberg, “and then multiply that by, I don’t know — a thousandfold, or more than that. That’s the

Pseudogenes Are Going the Way of Darwin’s “Rudimentary Organs”

Long described as useless leftovers of evolution, pseudogenes are rising from the junk pile as functional entities — so much so, that scientists think a change in terminology is needed. Wikipedia can be counted on to parrot the Darwinian view. Here’s what they say about pseudogenes: Gene duplication generates functional redundancy and it is not normally advantageous to carry two identical genes. Mutations that disrupt either the structure or the function of either of the two genes are not deleterious and will not be removed through the selection process. As a result, the gene that has been mutated gradually becomes a pseudogene and will be either unexpressed or functionless. This kind of evolutionary fate is shown by population genetic modeling and also by genome analysis.

Irreconcilable Differences: Can Darwinism Be Pasteurized?

Editor’s note: As biologist Jonathan Wells observes, “he measures being taken against the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic owe nothing to evolutionary theory.” Yet a persistent claim from evolutionists is that medical research would be crippled without a Darwinian framework. Evolution News presents a series of our previously published work addressing the myth of “Darwinian medicine.” Michael Egnor has criticized so-called “Darwinian medicine” as a useless concept, since medical science has had spectacular success without it. Darwinism is about the death of the unfit, focused on populations instead of individuals. Medicine is about healing individuals and anyone who needs help, including the unfit, the weak, and the vulnerable. How can the father of evolutionary theory, Charles

No, Despite Often-Heard Claims, Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria Is Not Evolution

Editor’s note: As biologist Jonathan Wells observes, “he measures being taken against the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic owe nothing to evolutionary theory.” Yet a persistent claim from evolutionists is that medical research would be crippled without a Darwinian framework. Evolution News presents a series of our previously published work addressing the myth of “Darwinian medicine.” Darwinian biologist and blogger P.Z. Myers wrote a post in which he lamented the fact that medical researchers rarely invoke evolution in their published research, whereas evolutionary biologists routinely invoke evolution. This is of course true. I pointed out that this is because evolutionary inferences are of no significant help to medical research. Inference to evolution is a narrative gloss on

Why Not Darwinian Medicine?

Editor’s note: As biologist Jonathan Wells observes, “he measures being taken against the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic owe nothing to evolutionary theory.” Yet a persistent claim from evolutionists is that medical research would be crippled without a Darwinian framework. Evolution News presents a series of our previously published work addressing the myth of “Darwinian medicine.” On an episode of ID the Future, host Ray Bohlin interviews fellow biologist Jonathan Wells about the interaction of evolutionary theory and medicine. Has Darwinism furthered healthcare? What about our understanding of antibiotic resistance? And might learning about evolution become a requirement for medical students? Download the podcast or listen to it here. This article was previously published

Down to the Wire: Applications Due Today for Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design

It’s down to the wire. The Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design are coming to Seattle for 9 days, July 10 to 18, 2020. It’s an entirely free opportunity for undergrad and graduate students to study ID with the stars of the field: Meyer, Axe, Nelson, Wells, Gauger, Sternberg, West, and more. Travel scholarships are available, too. There are two tracks to choose from. Look for online applications here: The C.S. Lewis Fellows Program on Science and Society; and The CSC Seminar on Intelligent Design in the Natural Sciences It’s an amazing experience, as past students and current instructors testify: “A Summer Seminar Grad Tells How Her Life Was Changed” “‘Safe to Question’ — Another Graduate of Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design Shares Her

In the Beginning: How the Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design Got Their Start

Editor’s note: Dr. Gordon is a Center for Science & Culture Senior Fellow and Associate Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, Houston Baptist University. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with the Summer Seminar on Intelligent Design in the Natural Sciences from its beginning in 2007. An all-expenses-paid program, the Seminar this year runs from July 10 to 18 in Seattle, with applications due by March 4. The road leading to my participation began with meeting Bill Dembski in Chicago. That was in 1990-91 at the start of my doctoral studies in philosophy of science/physics. We became very good friends and, over the course of many conversations with Bill and subsequent interactions with Paul Nelson and Steve Meyer, I was converted from a theistic

The Evolution of the Eye, Demystified

How did the eye evolve? Michael Behe in 2006 and Jonathan Wells in 2017 wrote about the irreducible complexity of the light-sensing cascade that makes vision possible. Yet Darwinists persist in asserting that this wondrous organ emerged, without guidance or direction, from a presumed ancestral eyespot.  This is an update on that important subject. I wish to emphasize the irreducible complexity of the visual cycle, on top of the sheer anatomical complexity of the human eye with its over two million working parts, second only to the human brain in complexity.   Function and Phototaxis Eyespots only perform a function when embedded in an interdependent system such as the one devoted to locomotion in the green algae Chlamydomonas. Phototaxis is a movement that occurs when a whole

RNA World Is Sterile — And the Mystery of Life’s Origin Remains

Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Roger Olsen have just released The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy, a greatly expanded and updated edition of the 1984 book whose first edition had a profound influence on the intelligent design movement. The new book includes a historical introduction by David Klinghoffer and new chapters contributed by James Tour, Guillermo Gonzalez, Stephen Meyer, Brian Miller, and Jonathan Wells.  The book has proved a fertile source of ideas, influencing Meyer, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Paul Nelson, and other leading ID proponents. Meanwhile, materialist hypotheses about the origin of life remain sterile. A case in point is the mythical RNA world. A world of lifeless molecules, interacting at random, going nowhere —

ID Literature and the Great Evolutionary Firewall

Peer-reviewed literature is supposed to be the gold standard in any given scientific field, though it both lets through junk science at times, and at others, excludes solid science, whether for ideological or other reasons. The gatekeepers are only human, prone to bias or wish fulfillment. The humans who police the gatekeepers are also prone to hallucinate. See a couple of posts on that subject from earlier this week, here and here.  These provisos having been stated, there is of course value in this literature. That’s why Evolution News spends so much time analyzing it. We haven’t talked about this in a while, but the body of peer-reviewed articles supporting intelligent design is impressive. You can find an extensive discussion of it here. Remember, this is just the

Marks, Bradley: “Magical” Circumstances Around the Publication of The Mystery of Life’s Origin

On a new episode of ID the Future, Robert J. Marks of the Bradley Center continues his conversation with Walter Bradley, co-author (with Charles Thaxton and Roger Olsen) of the groundbreaking 1984 work The Mystery of Life’s Origin. Download the podcast or listen to it here. A revised and expanded edition of the book has just been released with new contributions from scientists and scholars, James Tour, Guillermo Gonzalez, Stephen Meyer, and others. But today Bradley and Marks discuss the book’s first release, with the “magical” set of circumstance (Dr. Marks’s characterization) around it. The conversation includes the cultural context that made finding a non-religious publisher an uphill battle, and a discussion of some of the endorsements and early reviews, including one

Introducing Walter Bradley: Friend, Hero, and Coauthor of The Mystery of Life’s Origin

Editor’s note: The following is adapted from remarks by Robert J. Marks at the 2020 Dallas Conference on Science & Faith. At the event, Stephen Meyer commented that The Mystery of Life’s Origin, by Walter Bradley and his colleagues, new released in an expanded form by Discovery Institute Press, inspired the current generation of leaders in the intelligent design community. Dr. Meyer said it was his hope there were those in the audience who would be similarly moved in the next generation. Dr. Marks concurred. Greetings! I am Robert J. Marks and I am the Director of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence. I am also a Distinguished Professor at Baylor University. The Bradley Center is the new kid on the block at Discovery Institute. We are pushing

Before Natural Selection There Was, and Remains, a Mystery

The origin of life is as mysterious today as it was in 1984. That year, Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Walter Olsen published their book that sparked the modern intelligent design movement. The book was rereleased this week in a wonderful, expanded edition under the title, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy, with new scientific contributions by James Tour, Brian Miller, Stephen Meyer, Guillermo Gonzalez, and Jonathan Wells. The Foreword is by Robert J. Marks and John West, while I wrote the Introduction with all the historical background for appreciating the book’s importance. In a series of interviews for ID the Future, Dr. Marks of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence talks with Dr. Bradley about the origins of the

Surprises in Cell Codes Reveal Information Goes Far Beyond DNA

Information is the stuff of life. Not limited to DNA, information is found in most biomolecules in living cells. Here are some recent developments. Sugar Code Certain forms of sugars (polysaccharides called chitosans) trigger the immune system of plants. Biologists at the University of Münster are “deciphering the sugar code.” They describe the variables in chitosans that constitute a signaling system.  Chitosans consist of chains of different lengths of a simple sugar called glucosamine. Some of these sugar molecules carry an acetic acid molecule, others do not. Chitosans therefore differ in three factors: the chain length and the number and distribution of acetic acid residues along the sugar chain. For about twenty years, chemists have been able to produce chitosans of

Mystery of Life’s Origin Authors Reunite for Dallas Conference on Science & Faith

There was a wonderful turnout this past Saturday for the 2020 Dallas Conference on Science & Faith, with more than 1,400 in attendance. A highlight was the reunion of the three scientists who sparked the modern intelligent design revolution. That was in 1984 with the publication of The Mystery of Life’s Origin. The pioneering authors, biochemist Charles Thaxton, materials scientist Walter Bradley, and geochemist Roger Olsen, are pictured above (from right to left, Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen), being interviewed by Stephen Meyer about the paradox-filled intellectual world of origin-of-life researchers. To Carry On a Legacy The audience, which had already nearly filled the parking lot 45 minutes before the event began, were rewarded with a very entertaining conversation

Mystery of Life’s Origin — Intelligent Design’s Original Edition, Greatly Expanded, on Sale Now!

Editor’s note: We are delighted today to offer a new book from Discovery Institute Press, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy, a greatly expanded and updated version of the book that, in 1984, launched the intelligent design movement. The following is excerpted from Discovery Institute Senior Fellow David Klinghoffer’s historical introduction to the work. Other brand new chapters on the “continuing controversy” about the origin of life are by chemist James Tour, physicist Brian Miller, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, biologist Jonathan Wells, and philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer. How does life emerge from that which is not alive? This mystery exercises a peculiar fascination, with the power to elicit remarkable feats of imagination. As the

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