Icons of Evolution Home of Biologist and Iconoclast Jonathan Wells


Just 22 hours after fertilization, this zebrafish embryo is already taking shape. By 36 hours, all of the major organs will have started to form. The zebrafish's rapid growth and see-through embryo make it ideal for scientists studying how organs develop. Image courtesy of Philipp Keller, Bill Lemon, Yinan Wan and Kristin Branson, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Va. Part of the exhibit Life:Magnified by ASCB and NIGMS.
"Zebrafish embryo" by ZEISS Microscopy @flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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... Read More ›
"Evidence" by theycallmetelly @flickr

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.

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"Flying Bat" by Piefke La Belle @flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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.

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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a UFO — well, the UFO Galaxy, to be precise. NGC 2683 is a spiral galaxy seen almost edge-on, giving it the shape of a classic science fiction spaceship. This is why the astronomers at the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory gave it this attention-grabbing nickname. While a bird’s eye view lets us see the detailed structure of a galaxy (such as this Hubble image of a barred spiral), a side-on view has its own perks. In particular, it gives astronomers a great opportunity to see the delicate dusty lanes of the spiral arms silhouetted against the golden haze of the galaxy’s core. In addition, brilliant clusters of young blue stars shine scattered throughout the disc, mapping the galaxy’s star-forming regions. Perhaps surprisingly, side-on views of galaxies like this one do not prevent astronomers from deducing their structures. Studies of the properties of the light coming from NGC 2683 suggest that this is a barred spiral galaxy, even though the angle we see it at does not let us see this directly. NGC 2683, discovered on 5 February 1788 by the famous astronomer William Herschel, lies in the Northern constellation of Lynx. A constellation named not because of its resemblance to the feline animal, but because it is fairly faint, requiring the “sensitive eyes of a cat” to discern it. And when you manage to get a look at it, you’ll find treasures like this, making it well worth the effort. This image is produced from two adjacent fields observed in visible and infrared light by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. A narrow strip which appears slightly blurred and crosses most the image horizontally is a result of a gap between Hubble’s detectors. This strip has been patched using images from observations of the galaxy made by ground-based telescopes, which show significantly less detail. The field of view is approximately 6.5 by 3.3 arcminutes.
"Hubble Spies a UFO" by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center @flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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.

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"Micah's DNA" by Michael Baldwin @flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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... Read More ›
red and white spiral background

Inherit The Spin

Darwinists Answer “Ten Questions” with Evasions and Falsehoods A year ago, I posted “Ten Questions To Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution.” On November 28, 2001, The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) posted its answers to my questions.

High School Tutor Sitting At Desk With Male Student In Biology Class

Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution

ORIGIN OF LIFE. Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how the building blocks of life formed in the Earth’s early atmosphere — when scientists actually think that the Earth’s early atmosphere was quite different and the origin of life remains a mystery?

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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. Read More ›