• Haeckel, Darwin, and Textbooks

    According to the online critique of Explore Evolution by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): (A) EE falsely claims that Darwin accepted Ernst Haeckel’s Biogenetic Law that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” In particular, the claim in EE that “Darwin thought that the observable similarities in different embryos revealed what the ancestors to these organisms would have looked like” [p. 66 of EE] “contradicts the majority view of prominent Darwin scholars (including Ernst Mayr, Stephen Jay Gould, David Hull, and Peter Bowler).” [1] (B) EE “falsely asserts Darwin thought the similarities between embryos were greater at the earliest stages of development,” and falsely suggests “that common descent and Haeckel’s Biogenetic Law require that the earliest stages of animal development are most Read More ›

    Jonathan Wells February 23, 2009
  • The Problem of Evidence

    If it isn’t testable, it isn’t science. 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 been modified by random variations …

    Jonathan Wells February 5, 2009
  • Darwin’s Straw God Argument

    Charles Darwin called The Origin of Species “one long argument.” The whole point of it was to show that living things are not special creations, but modified descendants of common ancestors. Although The Origin of Species listed many facts from nature, Darwin’s argument was basically theological, and it took this general form: The facts of nature are “inexplicable on the theory of creation,” but make sense on the theory of descent with modification. By “the theory of creation,” Darwin did not mean “creation within the past few thousand years.” Young-earth creationism was not the issue. The issue was whether a creator was necessary — after the origin of life itself — to explain the features we see in living things. Read More ›

    Jonathan Wells December 31, 2008
  • Is the “Science” of Richard Dawkins Science Fiction?

    Atheist Richard Dawkins is hopping mad at the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Dawkins accuses the filmmakers of “lying for Jesus” because they make it seem that he believes in intelligent design and space aliens. Dawkins is an outspoken critic of intelligent design (ID). In his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins defined biology as “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Design is only an appearance, because (as the subtitle of the book indicated) “the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design.” According to Dawkins, evolution shows that the universe and everything in it can be explained by undirected natural processes such as random mutation and survival of Read More ›

    Jonathan Wells April 21, 2008
  • Darwin of the Gaps

    On June 26, 2000, President Bill Clinton announced the completion of the Human Genome Project, which had just deciphered the sequence of DNA in a human cell. “Today,” he said, “we are learning the language in which God created life.” At the president’s side was Francis Collins, director of the project, who had helped to write Clinton’s speech. “It is humbling and awe-inspiring,” Collins said, “to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God.” As its subtitle indicates, The Language of God presents evidence for Christian belief. Curiously, however, that evidence does not include DNA, which according to Collins provides “compelling” evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution instead. In the Read More ›

    Jonathan Wells March 26, 2008
  • Survival of the Fakest

    [Originally appeared in the The American Spectator – December 2000/January 2001. PDF Version.] If you had asked me during my years studying science at Berkeley whether or not I believed what I read in my science textbooks, I would have responded much as any of my fellow students: puzzled that such a question would be asked in the first place. One might find tiny errors, of course, typos and misprints. And science is always discovering new things. But I believed — took it as a given — that my science textbooks represented the best scientific knowledge available at that time. It was only when I was finishing my Ph.D. in cell and development biology, however, that I noticed what at first Read More ›

    Jonathan Wells January 1, 2001
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    Telos December 31, 1999