The Evidential Collapse of Darwinism: Review of Jonathan Wells’s Icons of Evolution

By William A. Dembski

October 21, 2000


I was fortunate to have read this book in manuscript form, being a long-time friend of its author, Jonathan Wells. It is no exaggeration that this book will shake the Darwinian establishment at its foundations. Many books that criticize Darwinism have found fault with the theory in more or less general terms. The unwarranted extrapolation from micro- to macroevolution, the lack of good evidence for the power of natural selection as the driving force behind evolution, and the paucity of transitional forms in the fossil record are at the top of the usual litany of complaints against Darwin's theory. Jonathan Wells takes a very different line. He looks at the supposedly very best evidence for Darwin's theory, usually at the level of microevolution, and shows that even here outright fraud and misreprentation dog all the key examples (e.g., the peppered moth, Haeckel's embryo drawings, and the Miller-Urey experiment). As Wells notes, earlier in his scientific career he had been prepared to accept the validity of these examples despite his doubts about Darwinism generally. But instead he found that on closer examination the key examples that Darwinists cite to support their theory are themselves either fraudulent, staged, or misrepresented. This will be devastating news for the Darwinian community. Yes, committed Darwinians can close ranks and claim that the problems are not that serious --that teachers must misrepresent in order to convey the deeper truths underlying Darwinism. But this approach will not stand the light of day -- certainly not after Wells's meticulous scholarship in this book becomes widely known. When I write a book, one of the clauses in my publishing contract requires that all the claims I make in the book be factually accurate. All the biological textbooks that deal in any significant way with Darwinian evolution will now have to be rewritten as a result of Wells's book Icons of Evolution. Icons of Evolution is a call to the biological community to do some much needed housecleaning.