On Open Minded ResearchResponse to Critics
Note: Some critics have accused Jonathan Wells of being biased in pursuing his Ph.D. in biology from the University of California at Berkeley. As a result, these critics charge, his arguments against Darwinism are false and should not be seriously considered. Although careful minds will recognize that this is an ad hominem fallacy with no relevance to the truth of his arguments, Wells nevertheless has chosen to respond to this accusation.
I entered U.C. Berkeley a critic of the claim that Darwin’s undirected mechanisms are capable of producing what Mike Behe and Bill Dembski have subsequently called “irreducible complexity” or “specified complexity.” But in 1989 I still accepted the Darwinists’ claim for universal common descent. (As many have pointed out, ID is not necessarily incompatible with common descent.) It wasn’t until I saw — as a graduate student in biology — how Darwinism distorts the evidence, that I became convinced that universal common descent should also be questioned.
In other words, I entered Berkeley as an advocate of ID and a critic of the sufficiency of Darwinian mechanisms, but also as an advocate of universal common descent. After looking at the evidence for the latter (with a clarity and objectivity that is encouraged in an ID framework but discouraged in a Darwinian one), I concluded (as Phil Johnson did in Darwin On Trial) that the claim of universal common descent is philosophy-driven rather than evidence-driven. The problem with universal common descent is not that it conflicts with ID, but that it conflicts with the evidence. In fact, it blatantly distorts the evidence to serve naturalistic philosophy.
There is a distinction between descent with modification — which many biology textbooks call a “fact” — and Darwinian “theory” about evolutionary mechanisms. Since evolutionary biologists already admit to substantial uncertainty about the mechanisms, I am currently presenting evidence against the so-called “fact” of evolution. This evidence — against the common ancestry of animal phyla and classes — I found, to my surprise, only after entering Berkeley.
Incidentally, the distinction between my long-standing criticism of Darwinian mechanisms and my relatively recent skepticism about universal common descent is summarized in my response to the first question in an interview posted in January 2001 at IDURC.