Jonathan Wells’ Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design (Regnery) is surely the best book ever written on the problems of Darwin’s theory of evolution. I was about to say the best for laymen, but it will also be invaluable for experts. The evidence and arguments deal with such a broad range of topics that few will be conversant with them all. Wells cites scholarly literature throughout, copiously footnotes his sources, uses plain-language quotations and translates technical terms where necessary. The book is accessible to readers with no prior knowledge of the field.
The story he tells is remarkable. Open-minded readers will surely conclude that the propaganda campaign on behalf of Darwinism has become so furious precisely because the scientific evidence for it is so weak. Much is at stake—this is no mere storm in an academic teacup. Did we get here as a result of blind chance, as the more candid Darwinists maintain? Or was life on Earth intelligently designed?
Wells, who has one Ph.D from Berkeley (in molecular and cell biology) and another from Yale (in theology) wrote an earlier Regnery book, Icons of Evolution (2000). The best-known claims about evolution are mostly false, he claimed in that work. Here he returns to the subject, clarifying, expanding and updating. In addition, he addresses the issues of design that have risen to prominence in recent years.
Not a Fact
Darwinists sometimes define evolution as “change over time” or a “change of gene frequencies.” Since life and gene frequencies certainly do change over time, this allows Darwinians to claim that evolution is “a fact.” What they really want to insinuate is something more ambitious: The factual basis of the claim that life, in all its complexity, was generated by chance and random mutations. And that has not been established—not even remotely.
Here are some of Wells’ findings:
- Fossils contradict Darwin’s general prediction, with the great divergence in body plans occurring early rather than late in the fossil record.
- The land-mammal-to-whale fossil sequence, said to illustrate “picture-perfect intermediacy,” consists of a series of animals none of whom “could conceivably have given birth to any of the others.”
- Darwin thought that the embryos of higher organisms reveal the adult forms of ancestral organisms and that this was the “strongest” evidence for his theory. But the drawings by the German Darwinist Ernst Haeckel, on which the claim was based, turned out to be faked.
- DNA sequences from different species are said to yield a tree of life that corresponds to the tree based on anatomical data. In fact, the DNA data contradict the anatomical as often as they confirm it. DNA evidence doesn’t solve but rather aggravates Darwin’s problem.
- The essential claim of Darwinism is that new species split off from existing species. But this has never been observed experimentally, either in the wild or in the lab. A British biologist made the following remarkable claim in 2001:
“Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution … throughout the whole array of higher multi-cellular organisms.”
It could be put this way: A hundred years ago, those who doubted Darwin often relied on a “missing link” between apes and men. This implied that the other links had been established. Now, the latest research casts doubt on the reality of any link.
“Evolution’s smoking gun is still missing,” Wells concludes.
He gives a good account of the intelligent-design movement, launched little more than a decade ago. Intelligent design is not based on the Bible, is not (necessarily) an argument for God and is not a substitute term for ignorance. “If we don’t know the cause of something, that does not mean it was designed.” We make design inferences on the basis of evidence, and numerous features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than by the blind, unguided processes of Darwinism.
Disputes between evolutionist and design theories can be addressed by experimental evidence. For example, molecular biologist Douglas Axe has shown that protein function is lost when DNA sequences are changed at random. But if mutation and selection are to have the creative power that Darwinism attributes to them, randomly altered sequences should retain some function.
I strongly recommend this book. Even those already conversant with the subject will learn a hundred new things, all tending to persuade us that life is a matter of design, not chance.