Part 1 Extent of Scientific Presupposition
A Review on Jonathan Wells’ Concern for Scientific Integrity
Serious questions are raised about the validity of the foundations of Darwinism in the article, “Survival of the Fakest,” by Jonathan Wells. Even more troubling is the questionable material that is found in our text books. In this paper I will examine a sampling of the questionable material passed off as reliable science. In the process I will point out weakness in the very foundational science of Darwinism. Lastly, we will discuss possible reasons why there is a constant promotion of faulty science.
One would assume that the information in high school and college level text books have been updated, thoroughly researched, and firmly established as fact. To assume such would be in error. The fact is that foundational science, upon which evolutionary biology is based, is very sketchy. Jonathan Wells describes a case in point with drawings of embryos. These drawings have been textbook in the promotion of Darwinism. The drawings are the work of early Darwinist Ernst Haeckel. In fact, Darwin himself stated that embryological evidence is “second to none in importance” (“Origin of Species” 346).
Wells recalls that during graduate school studying cell and development biology he first noticed discrepancies with his own studies and college text books. He had been studying embryos for some time and looking at them under a microscope. He knew the drawings in the text books “where just plain wrong” (“Survival of the Fakest” 1). The text book drawings featuring the early stages embryos were not just wrong, but omitted early stages where embryos looks very different (“Haeckel’s Embryos and Evolution” 346). Haeckel also omitted two of the seven vertebra classes, presumably because they “don’t fit neatly in Haeckel’s scheme” (“Haeckel’s Embryos and Evolution” 345).
In a later examination of these errors prompted British embryologist Michael Richardson to write, “It looks like it’s turning out to be one of the most famous fakes in biology” (“Survival of the Fakest” 1). In fact, famous proponent of evolution, Stephen Jay Gould, wrote that we should be “astonished and ashamed by the century of mindless recycling that has led to the persistence of these drawings in a large number, if not a majority, of modern textbooks” (“Survival of the Fakest” 2). Yet the drawings still can be found in modern textbooks.
One may think, that in the field of science and education, that this certainly is an isolated incident. Wells discusses in his book, “Icons of Evolution,” that there are more faulty illustrations of evolution that have made their way into textbooks. I will set forth these examples in the remainder of the paper.
The first example is Stanley Miller and Harold Urey example of creating the building blocks of life in a flask. This example served as proof that life could be reproduced by adding an electrical current through the right mixture of gasses and amino acids could be produced. Miller and Urey’s experiment sought to firmly take the supernatural out of creation and suppose it was a common event that could be easily reproduced on the right planets. There are problems though.
The experiment could not produce. Scientist could not get past the amino acid base to produce proteins. The gap from the amino acids to proteins, which was supposed to be easily bridged, now appeared impossible. In addition to being unfruitful in its initial goal, Urey/Miller experiment had other problems. There was a problem with the atmospheric composition proposed by Miller and Urey. Wells reports that there is almost universal consensus among geochemists that the earth’s atmosphere was completely different from hydrogen-rich atmosphere proposed by Urey and Miller. The consensus of geochemist is that volcanic gasses covered the early earth atmosphere. So in repeating the Urey/Miller experiment in the volcanic atmosphere, it doesn’t work. The experiment is a failure.
Even though the experiment is a failure, text books continue to report it as fact. One such text book is the Molecular Biology of the Cell that is co-authored by National Academy of Science president Bruce Alberts.
The next item of issue lies with Darwin’s Tree of Life. In short, Darwin believed that all beings were not special but all species came from a very few. The difference in the species came from natural selection, survival of the fittest. Darwin called this “decent with modification” (“Survival of the Fakest” 4). Darwinism believes that decent with modification accounts for the origins of all new species. The illustration of this theory should resemble a tree. All the different species (branches) should decent into a single trunk.
The Tree of Life theory has some serious flaws. First is the issue of the “Cambrian explosion.” That is the fossil record has shown the major groups of animals appears to have been fully formed around the same time instead of developing from a common ancestry. Darwin, knowing this, thought it was too early in the fossil record and with more time the fossil record would mature to confirm his theory. The fossil record has matured since Darwin and this maturity has only aggravated the issue and shown greater discrepancy (“Survival of the Fakest” 4).
Further testing in the molecular field has resulted in conflicting results. At first test seem to suggest that molecules of same species were closely related. However, recent experiments have resulted in conflicting results. One tree pattern seems to differ from another. Canadian biologist W. Ford Doolittle states that the failure of scientist to find Darwin’s tree may be because, “the history of life cannot properly be represented as a tree” (“Survival of the Fakest” 4).
Now we come to the scandal of the Peppered moth. The scandal originated from an attempt to confirm Darwin’s theory that of Natural Selection. Bernard Kettlewell, a British physician, thought they had the smoking gun of Natural Selection in the Peppered moth. That is during the 1950’s the Peppered moth in England changed from a predominantly white color to a dark color. The thought was in order to survive in the increasingly pollution darkened trees in England, the moth has evolved to a darker hue so as to blend in.
Kettlewell tested this theory and the evidence seemed to confirm Natural Selection in action. Kettlewell released dark and light moths onto tree trunks in unpolluted and polluted woodlands in England. Just as he suspected, more light colored moths were eaten in polluted woodlands and more dark colored ones were eaten in non-polluted woodlands. The results was the smoking gun and published in textbooks as an example of Natural Selection.
The experiment was revisited in the 1980s. Researchers found a major flaw in Kettlewell’s experiment that made the experiment invalid. That is the natural habitat for the Peppered moth was not on tree trunks in daylight. The moth naturally fly at night and hides under upper tree branches during the day (“Revenge of the Peppered Moth” 1). Kettlewell had created an artificial scenario and “sampling bias” that left the experiment invalid (“Revenge of the Peppered Moth” 2). Other researches have even cast down on wither or not it was pollution that caused the moth to sport a darker color. The supposed claim of Natural selection at work turned out to be a total flop.
It is interesting to note that the pictures in textbooks of the Peppered moths on tree trunks were all staged. Some were actually dead and glued to tree trunks. In defense, the pictures were taken before the 1980s (“Survival of the Fakest” 6).
The next is Darwin’s famous Finches. The finches were not a significant contributing force in Darwin’s theory. They have, however, been a considerable factor in later research. Specifically, after researchers have noted that the beaks of Finches have attained a 5 percent increase after times of severe drought (supposedly because they only had hard seeds to get nourishment from). Many thought this is Natural selection at work and the conclusions were even published by the U.S. National Academy of Science. Wells notes them saying, “a single year of drought on the islands can drive evolutionary changes in the finch…, if droughts occur about once every ten years on the island, a new species of finch might arise in only about 200 years” (Survival of the Fakest” 6).
The evidence that was not mentioned, however, is that the size of their beaks returned to normal the next year. There was no lasting effect or as Wells reports, “net evolution occurred” (“Survival of the Fakest” 6). The new species of finch are occurring through hybridization and not evolution as the U.S. NAS supposes. Is this an example of willfully withholding information so that a theory can gain acceptance?
The last issue is that of decent with modification with respect to man. Darwin thought that there was no difference in morality and religion in man than the animals with higher mental faculties. Therefore the natural decent of man should be the primates. Man was nothing more than an animal with higher mental faculties. So it seems there must be evidence for this in the fossil record. It was not until 1912 that the evidence was allegedly found in a gravel pit in Piltdown, England. Charles Dawson found a skull that was thousands of years old that was a human/ape cross.
Later research debunked the find. Scientist pointed out the lower jaw was from an orangutan that was dated more recent than the skull. The jaw had been treated to make it look older than it was, and teeth filed down to look human (“Survival of the Fakest” 8). It was a fake. This mistake took forty years to correct. That is forty years of false education to an entire generation.
What is the message here? Listed above are several instances where terrible science is forced upon people as fact. Is it that Darwinism has taken such a hold upon the scientific community that the presupposition of naturalism trumps the evidence that pure science produces. The nature of science is to revise hypothesis and theories based upon ongoing research. It seems that evidence is being forced into a Darwinian mold, even though evidence is contrary to Darwinism. Attempts to criticize the Evolutionary position is met with hostility and black-balling. Many times one characterized as a fanatical “creationist” that is bent on stunting science. The agenda of Darwinism seems to have hijacked science and the minds of a generation. Wells makes an insightful statement of motives referring to the Peppered moth account:
“It doesn’t matter that the camouflage-predation story is scientifically disputed. It doesn’t matter that the story doesn’t come close to demonstrating the origin of new species, much less the descent of all species from common ancestor. What matters is that the peppered myth is a useful tool for indoctrinating students in Darwinian evolution” (Revenge of the Peppered Moth” 4).
Corrections must be made speedily and honestly. Not only is the integrity of science at stake but perhaps something more fundamental: truth and one’s worldview.
Darwin, C. (1859). The Origin of Species. Reprint 1936. New York: Modern Library.
Wells, Jonathan. “Haeckel’s Embryos and Evolution Setting the Record Straight”. The American Biology Teacher. Volume 61. No. 5. 1999: 345-349. Print.
Wells, Jonathan. “Revenge of the Peppered Moths?” n.p., 2012. Web. 12 February 2012.
Wells, Jonathan. “Survival of the Fakest”. The American Spectator. December 2000/January 2001.