One Scientist's Journey from Darwin to DesignMatti Leisola and Jonathan Witt

What happens when an up-and-coming European bioscientist flips from Darwin disciple to Darwin defector? Sparks fly. Just ask biotechnologist Matti Leisola.

It all started when a student loaned the Finnish scientist a book criticizing evolutionary theory. Leisola reacted angrily, and set out to defend evolution, but found his efforts raised more questions than they answered. He soon morphed into a full-on Darwin skeptic, even as he was on his way to becoming a leading bio-engineer.

Heretic is the story of Leisola’s adventures making waves — and many friends and enemies — at major research labs and universities across Europe. Tracing his investigative path, the book draws on Leisola’s expertise in molecular biology to show how the evidence points more strongly than ever to the original biotechnologist — a designing intelligence whose skill and reach dwarf those of even our finest bioengineers, and leave blind evolution in the dust.


Award-winning Finnish biotechnologist Matti Leisola has written a fascinating account of what happens when a scientist follows the evidence wherever it leads. Leisola’s account of how he succeeded should inspire up-and-coming scientists who face the same challenge.

Biologist Jonathan Wells, PhD, author of Icons of Evolution and Zombie Science

Scientists, like all other intellectuals, have ideas about what constitutes and what does not constitute reality. However, they are often not aware-and sometimes not ready to admit-that such ideas represent the principles of their philosophy. Leisola and Witt’s Heretic is a unique first-hand account of the life-long adventures of a scientist who dared to challenge philosophical principles of colleague scientists. In my opinion, the outcome shows that to many scientists their philosophy is dearer than their science.

Biochemist and inventor Branko Kozulić, PhD

This book is an exciting story about how a scientist’s relentless search for truth makes him a heretic in the eyes of a cultural community more concerned about prestige than principle.

Tapio Puolimatka, PhD and EdD, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

This book is a personal, strong, and motivated plea for intelligent design (ID) and ‘swims against the current’ of Darwinian evolution, now generally accepted in scientific circles and society. I personally do not endorse ID, but I am a good friend of the author, whom I also highly respect as a scientist active in academia and in the biotech industry over so many years. Heretic inspires readers to think critically and to open up a civilized discussion on neo-Darwinism versus ID. It covers the science and philosophical parts adequately; it is accessible to a large readership; and statements are underpinned by relevant research and literature data. Its value lies in the author’s lifelong engagement and personal crusade to stimulate the public debate among scientists as well as laymen over Darwinism (chance/random mutation and natural selection) versus ID, a vision that Leisola strongly advocates.

Dr. Erick J. Vandamme, Emeritus Professor of Bioscience Engineering, Centre for Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology, Ghent University, Belgium

Matti Leisola has written the exciting story of almost the entire spectrum of aberrant motives, absurd fears, and unreasonable reactions to intelligent design (ID) by evolutionary scientists, clergymen, and church institutions alike, notably during his career as a scientist over the last some forty years. I would add a word on the fears of so many critics that accepting ID also means accepting the dogmata of some 1700 years of church history. ID is thoroughly neutral concerning such topics. So, the reader is invited to carefully check the historical and, what is more, the enormous wealth of scientific data Matti Leisola has presented in the present book: Test them carefully with an open mind and form your own independent opinion!

Dr. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, geneticist, Cologne, Germany

Matti Leisola

Dr. Leisola is the former dean of Chemistry and Material Sciences at Helsinki University of Technology, and the author of 140 peer-reviewed science publications on enzymes and rare sugars. Among other distinctions, he is a winner of the Latsis Prize of the ETH Zürich.

Jonathan Witt

Executive Editor, Discovery Institute Press and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Jonathan Witt, PhD, is Executive Editor of Discovery Institute Press and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Science and Culture. His co-authored books include Intelligent Design Uncensored (IVP), A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature (IVP), and The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot (Ignatius Press). Witt is also the lead writer and associate producer for Poverty, Inc., winner of the $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award and recipient of over 50 international film festival honors. His latest book is a YA novel co-authored with astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, The Farm at the Center of the Universe.