World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Jonathan Wells (intelligent design advocate)


Jonathan Wells (intelligent design advocate)

Jonathan Wells
Born John Corrigan Wells
1942 (age 73–74)
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley, Unification Theological Seminary, Yale University
Occupation Author
Known for Intelligent design advocate and anti-evolution activist
Title Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute
Religion Unification Church

John Corrigan "Jonathan" Wells (born 1942) is an American molecular biologist, author and advocate of University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a PhD in molecular and cellular biology in 1994. He became a member of several scientific associations and has published in academic journals.

In his book Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? (2000), Wells argues that a number of examples used to illustrate biology textbooks were grossly exaggerated, distorted truth, or were patently false. Wells said that this shows that evolution conflicts with the evidence, and so argued against its teaching in public education.[5][6][7] Some reviewers of Icons of Evolution have said that Wells misquoted experts cited as sources and took minor issues out of context, basing his argument on a flawed syllogism.[6][8] Wells's views on evolution have been rejected by the scientific community.[4][5][9]


  • Biography 1
  • Opposition to evolution 2
    • Icons of Evolution 2.1
    • Kansas evolution hearings 2.2
    • The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design 2.3
  • AIDS denialism 3
  • Publications 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Wells was born in New York City in 1942 and grew up in New Jersey, and was brought up as a Protestant Christian. He studied geology at Princeton University, where he dropped out in his junior year. Following a brief stint as a taxi driver, he was drafted into the United States Army and spent two years serving in Germany. After his discharge in 1966, he attended University of California, Berkeley, where he publicly refused to report for reserve duty. This resulted in him being arrested and being incarcerated for eighteen months at the Leavenworth military prison. Upon his release, Wells returned to Berkeley where he completed his studies with a major in geology and physics and a minor in biology.

In 1974, Wells joined the

External links



  1. ^ Wells, Jonathan (November 2004). "Using Intelligent Design Theory to Guide Scientific Research" (PDF). Progress in Complexity, Information and Design (Princeton, NJ:  
  2. ^ Gishlick, Alan D. (November 23, 2006). "Icon 4 — Haeckel's Embryos".  
  3. ^ a b c d e Wells, Jonathan. "Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D.". True Parents Organization. Denver, CO. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  4. ^ a b   Quoted in "Rebuttal to Reports by Opposing Expert Witnesses" (PDF) by William A. Dembski (May 14, 2005).
  5. ^ a b Wells, Jonathan. "INTRODUCTION to ICONS of EVOLUTION: Science or Myth? Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong". Icons of Evolution. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved 2013-12-12. Biological evolution is the theory that all living things are modified descendants of a common ancestor that lived in the distant past. It claims that you and I are descendants of ape-like ancestors, and that they in turn came from still more primitive animals.
    ...much of what we teach about evolution is wrong. This fact raises troubling questions about the status of Darwinian evolution. If the icons of evolution are supposed to be our best evidence for Darwin's theory, and all of them are false or misleading, what does that tell us about the theory? Is it science, or myth?
  6. ^ a b c d  
  7. ^ Wells, Jonathan (June 12, 2002). : A Response to Published Reviews"Icons of Evolution"Critics Rave Over .  
  8. ^ a b Forrest & Gross 2004, p. 98. Reviews specifically cited include those by David Ussery, Massimo Pigliucci, Kevin Padian and Alan Gishlick.
  9. ^ Humburg, Burt (August 26, 2006). Cartwright, Reed A., ed. "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design Review: Why Should Words Have Meanings? (Chapter 1)". The Panda's Thumb (Blog). Houston, TX: The TalkOrigins Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2007-02-04. In order to advance his thesis, Wells has to convey the idea that 'Darwinism' pits itself against traditional Christianity: to allow pupils to learn it is to give them up to atheism, decadence, liberalism and to lose the culture war.
    Note that Wells does not wage war against evolution. In fact, he is at pains to make it (somewhat) clear that he wages war against 'Darwinism', which in context might sound like the sort of thing any sensible Christian would want to guard against. Unfortunately, Wells isn't exactly clear what he means by Darwinism as opposed to evolution.
    Easily, one of the prominent faults of Wells’s screed is a pervasive confusion between terms. Words, like 'Darwinism' and 'Traditional Christianity', seem to mean whatever Wells wants them to mean for that specific sentence. In many cases words are used without regard for his own stated definitions and usually without regard to usage elsewhere in his book. There are several possible reasons for this confusion in terms. First, Wells confusion may be by design. I have argued elsewhere that creationists intend to confuse their audiences when they argue. Second, if you review the acknowledgements page, you’ll read how Wells used many authors to help him prepare this text. It is possible that Wells's editorship was so insufficient that he allowed a term that makes up part of the book's very title to have a flexible meaning. My suspicion is that there was both disparity between the understanding of key terms by different authors as well as an intention to confuse.
  10. ^ Cashill 2005, p. 174
  11. ^ a b c Wells, Jonathan. "Jonathan Wells Then". The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Seattle, WA: The Discovery Institute. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  12. ^ a b Numbers 2006, p. 381
  13. ^ "Board of Trustees". True Parents Organization. Denver, CO. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  14. ^ a b Antal, Chris (February 2000). "New Hope for Dialogue with National Council of Churches of Christ". True Parents Organization. Denver, CO. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  16. ^ Wells, Jonathan. "Marriage and the Family: the Unification Blessing". True Parents Organization. Denver, CO. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  17. ^ Lanham, Cheryl Wetzstein (September 1994). "True Subject and Object, Not Men and Women". Unification News (Letter to the editor (reprint)) (New York:  
  18. ^ "Unificationist Photos from 1997 and 1998". True Parents Organization. Denver, CO. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  19. ^ "Jonathan Wells, Senior Fellow - CSC". Discovery Institute. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  20. ^ "Society Fellows". International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design. Princeton, NJ: International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  21. ^ "Intelligent Design and Peer Review".  
  22. ^ "Dr. Jonathan Wells Returns to UTS". The Cornerstone (Barrytown, NY:  
  23. ^ Andrew, Stephen (January 15, 2006). "Know Your Creationists".  
  24. ^ Wilkins, John S. (March 30, 2004). "Mything the point: Jonathan Wells' bad faith". The Panda's Thumb (Blog). Houston, TX: The TalkOrigins Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  25. ^  
  26. ^ Myers, PZ (January 25, 2007). "Jonathan Wells knows nothing about development, part II". Pharyngula (Blog). ScienceBlogs LLC. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  27. ^ Myers, PZ (November 3, 2006). "PZ Myers is such a LIAR!". Pharyngula (Blog). ScienceBlogs LLC. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  28. ^ Smith, Tara C. (January 31, 2007). "Whereby Jon Wells is smacked down by an undergrad in the Yale Daily News". Aetiology (Blog). ScienceBlogs LLC. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  29. ^ "Article Database". Discovery Institute. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved 2013-12-12.  List of articles written by Jonathan Wells.
  30. ^ Wells, Jonathan. "Evolution by Design". True Parents Organization. Denver, CO. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  31. ^ "The C-Files: Jonathan Wells". New Mexicans for Science and Reason. Peralta, NM: New Mexicans for Science and Reason. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  32. ^  
  33. ^  
  34. ^ Pigliucci 2002, pp. 44–45
  35. ^  
  36. ^ Chang, Kenneth (February 21, 2006). "Few Biologists but Many Evangelicals Sign Anti-Evolution Petition".  
  37. ^ "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism" (PDF). Discovery Institute. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  38. ^ a b "10 Questions, and Answers, About Evolution". The New York Times. August 23, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  39. ^ "'A Teacher on the Front Line'". National Center for Science Education. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Science Education. August 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  40. ^ "'"10 Answers to Jonathan Wells's '10 Questions. National Center for Science Education. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Science Education. October 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  41. ^ "Scientist Exposes Evolution’s Weaknesses in Politically Incorrect Book About Darwinism and Intelligent Design". Center for Science and Culture. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. August 2, 2006. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  42. ^  
  43. ^ Gishlick, Alan D. (October 19, 2008). "Why much of what Jonathan Wells writes about evolution is wrong". National Center for Science Education. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  44. ^  
  45. ^  
  46. ^ Pigliucci 2002, pp. 252–264
  47. ^ Forrest & Gross 2004, p. 105
  48. ^ Weisenberg, Richard (December 16, 2000). "Challenging ideas against teaching of evolution".   Letter in response to "Let's Change Science Standards And Let Students Do Real Science" by Jonathan Wells (December 11, 2000).
  49. ^ Forrest & Gross 2004, p. 111. Quoting Dr. Bruce Grant, Professor of Biology at College of William & Mary: "But should we blame Ms Rider for her outrage upon learning that moths were glued to trees? No. Instead I blame Dr Wells, who wrote the article she cites as her source of information. While he has done no work on industrial mechanism, he has written [an] opinion about that work. To one outside the field, he passes as a scholar, complete with Ph.D. Unfortunately, Dr Wells is intellectually dishonest. . . . He lavishly dresses his essays in quotations from experts (including some from me) which are generally taken out of context, and he systematically omits relevant details to make our conclusions seem ill founded, flawed, or fraudulent."
  50. ^ a b Coyne, Jerry (December 6, 2000). "Criticism of moth study no challenge to evolution".  
  51. ^ "Kansas Evolution Hearings: Jonathan Wells, Bruce Simat, Giuseppe Sermonti, and Ralph Seelke". TalkOrigins Archive (Transcript from the  
  52. ^  
  53. ^ a b Cartwright, Reed A., ed. (August 19, 2006). "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design Review".  
  54. ^ Rosen, Rebecca (May 16, 2009). "Starbucks stirs things up with controversial quotes".  
  55. ^ "The Group". VirusMyth: A Rethinking AID$ Website. Hilversum, Netherlands: Robert Laarhoven. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  56. ^ Quittman, Beth (September 8, 2006). "Undercover at the Discovery Institute". Seattlest (Blog) (New York:   Wells' "personal peculiarities include membership in the Moonies and support for AIDS reappraisal - the theory that the HIV is not the primary cause of AIDS."
  57. ^ a b "Aids 'denialism' gathers strange bedfellows".  
  58. ^ Brauer, Matthew J.; Forrest, Barbara;  


See also

  • Wells, Jonathan (1988). Charles Hodges' Critique of Darwinism: An Historical-Critical Analysis of Concepts Basic to the 19th Century Debate. illustrations by Jody F. Sjogren. Lewiston, NY:  
  • —— (2000).  
  • —— (2006). The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing.  
  • ——; —— (2008). Dembski, William A., ed.  
  • Wells, Jonathan (2011). The Myth of Junk DNA (1st ed.). Seattle, WA:  


  • Wells, Jonathan (1985). "Inertial force as a possible factor in mitosis".  
  • Larabell, Carolyn A.; Rowning, Brian A.; Wells, Jonathan; Wu, Mike; Gerhart, John C. (April 1996). "Confocal microscopy analysis of living Xenopus eggs and the mechanism of cortical rotation" (PDF).  
  • Rowning, Brian A.; Wells, Jonathan; Wu, Mike; Gerhart, John C.; Moon, Randall T.; Larabell, Carolyn A. (February 18, 1997). "Microtubule-mediated transport of organelles and localization of β-catenin to the future dorsal side of Xenopus eggs".  

Articles in peer-reviewed journals


Wells and Johnson have been criticized, along with others, for their questioning of the scientific and medical consensus that HIV causes AIDS.[57] In the Washington University Law Review, critics Matthew J. Brauer, Barbara Forrest, and Steven G. Gey faulted Wells, Johnson, and others for denying the HIV/AIDS connection and promoting denialism via a petition designed to garner publicity but without any scientific support.[58]

In 1991, Wells and his mentor Phillip E. Johnson signed an open letter which said in full:

AIDS denialism

In 2006, Wells published his second major book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, which was part of a series published by Regnery Publishing. The book was praised by Tom Bethell, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science,[52] but was described by Dr. Reed A. Cartwright of The Panda's Thumb weblog as being "not only politically incorrect but incorrect in most other ways as well: scientifically, logically, historically, legally, academically, and morally."[53] Cartwright also edited a chapter-by-chapter critique of the book.[53] A quote from the book linking evolution to eugenics, abortion and racism appeared on Starbucks paper cups in 2007.[54]

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design

Prior to the evolution hearings, in December 2000 after the Pratt County, Kansas, school board revised its tenth-grade biology curriculum at the urging of intelligent design proponents to include material that encourages students to question the theory of evolution, The Pratt Tribune published a letter from Jerry Coyne challenging Wells's characterization in an article of his work on peppered moths, saying that his article appended to the Pratt standards was misused and being mischaracterized:

In 2005, Wells participated in the Kansas evolution hearings, which were boycotted by mainstream scientists. There Wells testified:

Kansas evolution hearings

Wells is best known for his 2000 book Icons of Evolution, in which he discusses ten examples which he says show that many of the most commonly accepted arguments supporting evolution are invalid.[41] The book is rejected by many members of the scientific community and has received much criticism by those opposed to his views.[6][42][43][44][45][46][47][48] There have been 12 detailed reviews of Icons, from scholars familiar with the subject matter, which have come to the consensus that the book's claims are a politically motivated extreme exaggeration and misrepresentation of a scattering of minor issues.[8] Scholars quoted in the work have accused Wells of purposely misquoting them and misleading readers.[49][50] Biology Professor Jerry Coyne wrote of Icons, "Wells's book rests entirely on a flawed syllogism: ... textbooks illustrate evolution with examples; these examples are sometimes presented in incorrect or misleading ways; therefore evolution is a fiction."[6]

Icons of Evolution

Wells is one of the signatories of the Discovery Institute's "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism," a petition which the intelligent design movement uses to promote intelligent design by attempting to cast doubt on evolution.[36][37] He is also the author of "Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution" for high school students, which is published by the Discovery Institute.[38] The National Center for Science Education has issued a list of answers to the questions.[38][39][40]

In 1999, Wells debated with the New Mexicans for Science and Reason.[31] He was one of the contributors to Natural History magazine's 2002 debate between intelligent design advocates and evolution supporters.[32] In 2005, he debated Massimo Pigliucci on the PBS talk show Uncommon Knowledge.[33] Pigliucci said that Wells "clearly lied" during his debates and misrepresented his agenda and science, as well as not understanding some of the theories he tried to attack.[34][35]

He has written articles for the Discovery Institute, WorldNetDaily, Origins & Design, and other sympathetic publications attacking evolution and defending intelligent design.[29] In 1997, he presented a paper entitled "Evolution by Design" at the Unification Church sponsored International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences in Washington, D.C.[30]

Wells's statement and others like it are viewed by the scientific community as evidence that Wells lacks proper scientific objectivity and mischaracterizes evolution by ignoring and misrepresenting the evidence supporting it while pursuing an agenda promoting notions supporting his religious beliefs in its place.[24][25][26][27][28]

Wells said that "destroying Darwinism" was his motive for studying Christian theology at Yale and going on to seek his second PhD at Berkeley, studying biology and in particular embryology:

Wells stated that his religious doctoral studies at Yale, which were paid for by the Unification Church, focused on the "root of the conflict between Darwinian evolution and Christian doctrine" and encompassed the whole of Christian theology within a focus of Darwinian controversies.[3][23] He said:

Of his student days at Unification Theological Seminary (1976–78), Wells said, "One of the things that Father [Reverend Sun Myung Moon] advised us to do at UTS was to pray to seek God's plan for our lives." He later described that plan: "To defend and articulate Unification theology especially in relation to Darwinian evolution."[22]

Opposition to evolution

In 1994, Wells earned another PhD in molecular and cellular biology at UC Berkeley.[12] After receiving his doctorate, he worked at a position he described as "a post-doctoral research biologist at Berkeley, writing articles critical of Darwinism."[3] Shortly after that Wells joined former UC Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson, father of the intelligent design movement, at the Discovery Institute.[11] He now serves as a fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture,[19] the hub of the intelligent design movement, and at the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design,[20] which also promotes intelligent design.[21]

Wells has written on the subject of marriage within the Unification Church and has been called a "Unification Church marriage expert" by church sources.[16][17][18] Wells defended Unification Church theology against what he said were unfair criticisms made in 1977 by the National Council of Churches.[14]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.