Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the September AD 2007
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Wells, Jonathan. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design.  
Washington: Regnery Publishing Co., 2006, 273 pp., $19.95

    Some years ago I expressed an opinion about the impossibility of evolution during a philosophy class.  The class ran for two and a half hours, so we took a coffee break about halfway through.  I was confronted by a young man who insisted that I was wrong—my point was based upon the second law of thermodynamics, which requires that disorder increases in any closed system over time.  The young man was insistent that the light of the Sun, continually illuminating the Earth, made the planet an open system and would produce order over time.[1]  He didn’t really have a good explanation how the additional energy would do more than heat and further randomize the molecules of Earth, but it was interesting to see a true believer in evolution extolling the theory as proven fact.  The young man had all of the zeal one associates with the religious zealots who preach in town squares or go door to door—his eyes lit up and his face was all aglow.

    Jonathan Wells’ Politically Incorrect Guide is written for the non-scientist who would like to know what evidence is presented to “prove” evolution to be scientific and thus give it the exclusive right to be taught in schools and to be incorporated in public policy.  After reading the book, one can only ask whether anyone at all would believe in Darwinism were it not for false philosophy and “religious” zeal like that of my young friend.

    Proponents of evolution generally claim to have found proof of the theory in (a) the fossil records, (b) the development of embryos, (c) molecular biology, and (d) the commonality of DNA to all life forms.  Wells carefully answers each of these pieces of purported evidence.

    The essence of Darwin’s theory is known as “descent with modification.”  All life is supposed to have originated with a single ancestor.  Over the eons the descendents of this ancestor have occasionally had offspring differing somewhat from the ancestor.  Ultimately, the differences become great enough that the descendents are no longer of the same species as the ancestor.  If the differences are beneficial, the descendent is more likely to survive than the original. More and more advanced creatures come into being thorough this process of “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest.”  Allegedly, it is possible to observe this differentiation of species in fossils they left behind—a so-called “tree of life” connecting all living beings to a common ancestor. The fossil record is far from complete.  In some time periods (e.g. the Cambrian) we find fossils that seem to have no similar species from which they might have sprung.  But more importantly, Wells points out, the finding of two different but greatly similar fossils proves nothing about whether one was descended from the other.

    In 1990 Ohio State University biologist Tim Berra published a book intending to refute critics of Darwinian evolution.  To illustrate how the fossil record provides evidence for Darwin’s theory of descent with modification, Berra used pictures of various models of Corvette automobiles.  “If you compare a 1953 and a 1954 model, and so on, the descent with modification is overwhelmingly obvious.”  But “descent” in Darwin’s theory means biological continuity through the same reproductive processes we observe in living things today: fertilization, development and birth.  Automobiles are made, not born.  Corvettes actually prove the opposite of what Berra intended—namely that a succession of similarities does not, in and of itself—provide evidence for descent with modification.  [Clearly an intelligent designer—not natural selection—is involved in changing the design.]

    Fossils cannot be used to establish ancestor-descendant relationships.  Imagine finding two human skeletons in your backyard, one about thirty years older than the other.  Was the older individual the parent of the younger.  Without written genealogical records and identifying marks it is impossible to answer the question.  And in this case we are dealing with two skeletons from the same species that are only a generation apart.[2]

    Biologists do claim that it is possible to establish ancestry in the maternal line, even with very old fossil specimens, by comparing the DNA in the cellular mitochondria of two related creatures.  The technique is obscured by mutations known to occur in the mtDNA.  Nonetheless, the point stands that descent with modification is not proven by similarity alone.  And, in fact, the mtDNA analysis has been used and has established that modern humans are not descended from the Neanderthals (nor Chimpanzees).[3]

    Of course the fossil records are far from complete.  Wells chose not to mention how Darwinists  looking for the “missing link” between man and his claimed ancestors have occasionally tried to “fudge” the record a bit.  The “Piltdown man,” discovered by Charles Dawson around 1910 was a modern human skull with the jaw of an orangutan attached.    The “Nebraska man” was the artistic extrapolation of an entire human form from a single tooth, identified by a paleontologist as that of a “higher primate”—which turned out to be that of a pig.  The “Peking man” (or “men,” for some accounts claim a number of them) was said to be the “missing link” between the gorilla and man.  It is highly touted in Darwinian circles, having not been proven a fraud, because all of the specimens vanished!

    Just about everyone who took biology in high school saw a series of drawings that purport to show the similarities between embryos of different species.  The drawings, made in the 1860s by the German Darwinist Ernst Hæckel, suggest that all early stage embryos are very much alike, and that they “evolve” into their final stage organisms as they mature prior to birth.  Such similarity would, again, prove nothing about ancestor-descendant relationships, but in any event, the Hæckel drawings are purposefully misleading.  Species that don’t look identical enough were omitted.  And the point at which various embryos appear most similar is somewhere in the middle of their gestation—there are pronounced differences both in the earliest and latest stages of development.[4]  Adolf Hitler was among Hæckel's admirers:  "German zoologist Ernst Hæckel, the racist Darwinist who coined the term 'ecology' in 1866, posited that the Jewish transcendent view of man over nature made them resistant to evolutionary biological change, and hence the Jews had become a lesser race."[LINK- "Hitler's Green Killing Machine"]

    Darwinism expected a great boost when biologists began to explore the inner workings of the cell.  Various protein sequences could be compared between species and were expected to fill in the gaps in the “tree of life” left by the fossil record.  Again, like the fossil records, the molecules do show similarities—and again, with no proof of ancestor-descendent relationships.  What has to be embarrassing to the evolutionist is that the similarities claimed by the paleontologists based on the shapes of the fossil bones  (called “morphology”) do not correspond to the similarities found at the molecular level.

The whale series may be the Darwinist’s best fossil scenario.  Since the oldest specimens in the series consist of skulls and teeth that are similar to an extinct group of hyena-like mammals called mesonychians, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Leigh Van Valen proposed in the 1960s that modern whales are descended from mesonychians.  For several decades that was the consensus view among paleontologists.


In the 1990s, molecular studies suggested a very different picture.  By comparing various molecules from whales with their counterparts in other living mammals, molecular evolutionists concluded that the closest living relatives of whales where hippopotamuses.  Many paleontologists considered this anathema, since on morphological grounds hippos seem much more closely related to other even-toed hoofed mammals, such as pigs and camels.  On molecular grounds, however, the “whippo” hypothesis claimed that hippos are more closely related to whales than they are to other land animals.[5]

    Some of the cellular studies are based on the assumption that evolution is fact and not theory.  A recent reconstruction of the DNA of ancient cave bears depended on the assumption that modern bears and dogs were evolutionary cousins—if that supposition is false, so will be the reconstructed genome.[6]

    One of the very important things that distinguishes the natural sciences from philosophy is the ability of a theory to make predictions, and for those predictions to be confirmed by independent researchers.  For example, numerous independent researchers have performed experiments which fairly well confirm the predictions made by Albert Einstein in his theory of relativity—the bending of light by a large mass, the gravitational red shift, and alterations in the orbit of Mercury have been measured and agree very well with what Einstein predicted.[7]  But, at least according to Wells, no scientist has ever demonstrated the bring into being of a new species![8]  Many have tried, but at most they report no more than changes in secondary characteristics.  Of course evolution is said to have taken place over “zillions” of years, but one would expect some small success with all of the observers and the modern equipment employed.  Would we consider the alchemist to be a scientist if his only reason for not changing lead into gold is that “it takes too long”?

    Another characteristic of all sciences is the encouragement of its practitioners to “think outside the box”—to come up with newer and better theories to explain what is observed—even if it is necessary to go against the currently prevailing theories.  Real science depends upon the free and open exchange of ideas and observations.  By way of illustration, in 1989 Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons reported that they had produced nuclear fusion at room temperature (it usually occurs in the sun and in hydrogen bombs).  They published a detailed report of their apparatus, the test conditions, and all of the things necessary for other scientists to replicate their work independently.  For seventeen years no one did so conclusively.  But in 2002, Mosier-Boss and Szpak, researchers in the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center San Diego, developed a new technique, which currently looks promising.[9]

    Quite the opposite is the attitude taken by proponents of Darwinism.  Wells devotes several chapters to the outright persecution of scientists and educators who question Darwinian “orthodoxy”.  Highly educated professionals are known to lose jobs and to be ostracized for any suggestion that their might be an alternative to Darwin’s theory.  The federal courts have been (ab)used to silence the opposition on the theory that teaching any other theory would constitute an “establishment of religion” in violation of the Constitution.  Materialism is the only religion allowed to be established.  Darwinism is one of its parish churches.

    There is a tremendous danger in conducting science by consensus rather than by free and independent research.—not the least of it being the danger that science will cease to progress.  Not all that long ago there was a strong consensus that the physics of Aristotle were true.  What scientific progress would have been made if that consensus had stopped men like Isaac Newton from proposing new theories?  Or Copernicus? or Galileo? or Kepler? or Einstein?

    Consensus science is likely to become politicized.  Only those with “orthodox” views get those lucrative government research grants, get their books published, or get to make their ideas known through the mainstream media.  Only they may teach in the public schools and colleges—and in many of the private ones as well.  We have seen that politicized science can lead entire nations down ruinous paths.  Nazi genetics suggested that certain ethnic groups were not fully human.  Lysenkoism in Soviet agriculture agreed with the Marxist party line and starved millions for decades.  Do we want consensus on “survival of the fittest” to shape our national policies in the future?  (Or consensus on the  magnitude and causes of global warning?)  Do we want that consensus manipulated by the moneyed elite, and the political and media power which they control?

    We hope to write more in the near future on the effects of thinking by consensus on all of the major institutions of modern society.  One can see great similarities in the ills of the Church, of national governments, and the scientific establishment.  Darwinism in only a part of the problem.

    Wells makes a reasonable case for “Intelligent Design” (ID) as an alternative to Darwin.  The intelligent designer is not necessarily the God of the Bible, although he might be.  Wells mentions a few atheists who endorse ID.  In a nutshell, ID is sort of evolution, but an evolution more like Tim Berra’s Corvettes.  Every so often, the intelligent designer intervenes to make a change to the biological product lines, which may or may not have sprung from a common ancestor.  Wells points out that Pope Pius XII in Humani generis condemned Darwinian evolution while admitting the possibility of accepting such a theory as ID (with God as the Designer)

    5. .... Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all this, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution. Communists gladly subscribed to this opinion so that, when the souls of men have been deprived of every idea of a personal God, they may the more efficaciously defend and propagate their dialectical materialism.

    6. Such fictitious tenets of evolution which repudiate all that is absolute, firm and immutable, have paved the way for the new erroneous philosophy which, rivaling idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, has assumed the name of existentialism, since it concerns itself only with existence of individual things and neglects all consideration of their immutable essences.

    36. For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faithful.

    Wells introduces a concept, “irreducible complexity” which seems to require an intelligent designer.[10]  Since Darwinism works in small steps, an organism with several parts, each required to make the organism function but useless without the others could not have evolved according to Darwin’s survival of the fittest.  His argument is convincing, but in this writer’s mind it is not of the order of natural science.  Both Darwinism and ID seem to be in the realm of philosophy.  Both examine the physical evidence, and then try to describe a plausible explanation of how things might have gotten to be the way they are.  Both point out weaknesses in the other’s theory (although the ID people seem more honest in this).  But both lack means to test their theories.  No experiments are conducted (at least not successfully), and no data is given to allow verification by independent researchers.  This is not natural science, but as philosophy, ID has Darwin beat, hands down.

    The reader might also enjoy Tom Bethell’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, Regnery 2005, 270pp.  $19.95 list (discount available).  It also has a useful section on evolution.[11]


[1]   Cf. Granville Sewell, “Evolution's Thermodynamic Failure”

[2]   Wells, op. cit. page 21.

[3]   “Fossil Hominids: mitochondrial DNA”

[4]   Wells, op. cit. pages 25-36.

[5]   Wells, op. cit. pages 29-40.

[6]   National Geographic  “Ancient Bear DNA mapped—A 1st for Extinct Species”

[8]   Wells, op. cit. pages 49-59.

[10]   Wells, op. cit. pages 107-117.


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