Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Icons of Evolution: Science of Myth?

Author: Jonathan Wells, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture

I have to admit that my expectations for this book were a bit low, but I was pleasantly surprised in spite of this and was happy to be wrong in my assumptions. The book is topically arranged around ten "Icons of Evolution", the often repeated and publicly famous "evidences" for Darwinism. Wells points out that, in various degrees of severity, these icons all misrepresent the actual evidence. Each topic has its own chapter and contains more than enough research to completely debunk Darwinian orthodoxy.
One icon (the Miller-Urey experiment) gives the false impression that scientists have demonstrated an important first step in the origin of life. One (the four-winged fruit fly) is portrayed as though it were raw material for evolution, but it is actually a hopeless cripple - an evolutionary dead end. Three icons (vertebrate limbs, Archaeopteryx, and Darwin's finches) show actual evidence but are typically used to conceal fundamental problems in interpretation. Three (the tree of life, fossil horses, and human origins) are incarnations of concepts masquerading as neutral descriptions of nature. And two icons (Haeckel's embryos, and peppered moths on tree trunks) are fakes...

This is not science. This is not truth-seeking. This is dogmatism, and it should not be allowed to dominate scientific research and teaching. Instead of using the icons of evolution to indoctrinate students in Darwinian theory, we should be using them to teach students how theories can be corrected in light of the evidence. Instead of teaching science at its worst, we should be teaching science at its best.

And science at its best pursues the truth. Dobzhansky was dead wrong, and so are those who continue to chant his anti-scientific mantra ["nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution"]. To a true scientist, nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evidence.
Since this book covers so many different topics, it can only briefly introduce them. Each topic could easily warrant its own book of thorough treatment. This gives Icons of Evolution a wonderful assortment of information at the cost of more detailed study. Wells makes up for this, however, through skillful summary. He artfully reduces mass research into carefully chosen and pertinent statements on each subject.

Wells also has a thorough grasp of the metaphysical assertions and assumptions that accompany these various icons of evolution. In most chapters, he precisely juxtaposes the available evidence against statements by leading biologists and examines the philosophical conclusions that they make. The reader is treated to abundant non-sequiturs and mental gymnastics as evidence is twisted beyond recognition by various outspoken Darwinists.

Perhaps the most unique contribution of Wells's book is his examination of current biology textbook material. In each of his sections he compares the available evidence with the current information printed in biology textbooks. In each case, the reader shudders at the rampant dishonesty and, in some cases, intentional deception that these books inflict upon American education. This is one of the more disturbing aspects of Wells's research. The presence of dishonesty is bad enough, but the amount Wells uncovers, bold and flagrantly displayed in publication after publication funded largely by public money, is enough to evoke genuine outrage. At the end of the book Wells includes an audit of some popular textbooks and grades them on their presentation of the various "icons". The results are dismal.

After reading this book, the evidence Darwinists use to promote their worldview seems much less intimidating. In fact, it seems sad and twisted and the reader is left with feelings of anger at the outright lies promoted in public education and feelings of despair at the state of American science. Why can't biology be honest with the more noble sciences like physics and chemistry? Why do biologists cheat and lie and why do we have to put up with it?

This critique of the most famous and propogandized evidences for Darwinism is an item that every educator should be required to read. Nowhere does Wells base any arguments on religion, faith, the Bible, God, or anything of the sort. He keeps to the evidence, quite unlike the Darwinists he discusses, and amply disarms these iconographic pillars of evolution. Is evolution true or false? Wells doesn't seem to care; but he certainly doesn't want lies and deception infiltrating our schools and society and he therefore rightly throws these "icons" in the garbage where they belong. The problem, as he points out, is that these icons are the evidence for evolution. Why should we believe a theory based on misinformation?


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