Update 2012: This is a review that I wrote for the book Icons of Evolution – by Jonathan Wells, waaaay back in my early homeschoolin’ days when I was reading Creation Science books as a hobby. We watched Kent Hovind’s Creation Seminars – if you ever have 17 hours or so to spare (as if homeschooling and running a household wasn’t a “real job”), you can probably watch them online for free at www.drdino.com. My oldest son loved the one on DINOSAURS. Now days, I’m lucky if I get to stay on top of my Bible study and the material for our school year, let alone read for pleasure. Teaching high schoolers is a lot busier than teaching elementary kids!
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“Science is the search for the truth” wrote Chemist Linus Pauling (winner of two Nobel prizes). Most scientists would agree with this statement, and it is written in the first sentence of the introduction of this book. As a scientist himself, Jonathan Wells (molecular biologist) ventures to bring the complex arguments against Darwinian Evolution down to the ‘civilian’ level so that everyone can benefit from the evidence. He explains very well “why much of what we teach about Evolution is wrong” – as his subtitle states.
What makes “Icons of Evolution” so different is that this book, while scrutinizing Darwin’s research and all the many Scientific claims that have been “added” to his work to create what we now call “Darwinism” (or Darwinian Evolution)… does not speak through a religious filter or take sides based on a moral stance. Wells speaks in common language (avoiding technical terms wherever possible) to the average person from a purely unbiased and objective secular viewpoint. His presentation of the large amount of data and research in his book is laid out in a clean, easy to comprehend format. He backs up all his claims with pure unbiased facts and a very impressive and LONG list of scientists who took part in helping him in some way before the book was finished being published.
The author endeavors to tear the Evolutionary Tree apart limb by limb using the very Science that it claims planted it in the first place. He starts with the explanation of the “discipline of Science”, claiming that a theory which seeks to be known as “scientific must somehow, at some point, be compared with observations and experiments” – that is – something that can be tested and re-tested against the natural world. He purports that “if there is a persistent conflict between theory and evidence, the former must yield to the latter.” Beginning with the basic principles of Science, he takes us through each claim of Darwinian Evolution and debunks the myth bringing all the evidence to light which textbooks leave out or cloud (on all levels).
If we are telling the truth, we have nothing to fear, right? Well this book is full of astounding information that the author believes Evolutionists don’t want you to know. If they did, he suggests that (in some cases), our textbooks would have had disclaimers or would have been re-written and corrected up to 100 years ago!
For instance… In the case of Haeckel’s Embryos (a drawing depicting the embryonic stages of 8 different species at varied stages of development), the author states “biologists have known for over a century that Haeckel faked his drawings” (he wrote a “confession” of sorts in a letter to Münchener Allegemeine Zeitung on January 9, 1909 which was published in Science, Art and Technology)… and yet as recent as today, Haeckel’s faked drawings remain in textbooks from the earliest levels all the way up to college level Biology. Most carry no disclaimers and leave out essential evidence as to the credibility of the artist. Some are re-drawn and re-labeled rather than removed. In a statement that can only be seen as (as Wells calls it) “Atrocious!”, Stephen Jay Gould, a historian of Science, acknowledged that Haeckel faked his drawings. He stated, “To cut to the quick of this drama, Haeckel had exaggerated the similarities by idealizations and omissions. He also, in some cases – in a procedure that can only be called fraudulent – simply copied the same figure over and over again.” Gould admitted to knowing this fact for over 20 years. Textbook writers and Scientists and Creationists engaged in a blame game have been going around and around on this particular item for a century, and the public (mainly our children – the future minds of our world) are the casualties of this “mindlessly recycled” lie. Wells quotes Gould as saying it is the “academic equivalent of murder”.
He covers: Archaeopteryx, the famous Peppered Moths, Darwin’s Finches, Four-Winged Fruit Flies, Fossil Horses and Directed Evolution, From Ape to Human – The Ultimate Icon, and many sub-topics in-between each of those. On each, he goes into lengthy detail in easy to understand dialect. Anyone who can read well will understand this book.
In his summary chapter, “Science or Myth” he brings the book together very well. He covers how all these “icons” (explained away in his book by contrary evidence) have become themselves the evidence that keeps Macro-Evolution alive. Thus, despite sharp controversy, “dogmatic promoters of Darwinian evolution” keep the plate spinning by using “their position of dominance to censor dissenting viewpoints”. He describes how organizations such as the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the NCSE (National Center for Science Education), the NSF (National Science Foundation), the NIH (National Institutes of Health), and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) all fund the Darwinian “establishment and its censorship of opposing viewpoints”. He goes on to explain how the bulk of those monies are federal taxpayer dollars… and implies that it is us – the commoners who are lied to by the Scientists and Textbook Writers – who are actually paying for this disservice!
Wells concludes his book with a nice and useful evaluation of ten recent Biology textbooks. He rates them on their use of the selected “Icons” in his book. Shockingly, all 10 books fail to meet any semblance of a standard of truth (to which they claim Science is the pursuit thereof). He also mentions briefly what he considers to be appropriate “warning labels” for textbooks to print on controversial or fraudulent material to warn the student.
Overall, I felt that he did a very good job explaining himself. I commend him for sticking his neck out to be most assuredly “chopped off” by his colleagues in light of his views of Darwinism. With statements such as “nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” by neo-Darwinist Theodosius Dobzhansky in 1973, and the ever-growing number of Scientists who are ostracized from their fields and in fear of loosing their jobs over their opposing viewpoints… it is a brave thing in-deed to write a book on this topic. Especially if you stand opposed to the Macro-Evolutionist ‘gate-keepers’ of FEDERAL FUNDING (which is the ‘grease’ that keeps Scientific research ‘frying’ – and allows Scientists to ‘bring home’ their ‘bacon’).
Perhaps my favorite quote in the book is from a Chinese paleontologist who Wells explains gave a lecture in America in which he states that fossil records in his country are inconsistent with the Darwinian field of evolution. After he discovered that his comments (based entirely on Scientific fact) upset the American Scientific community, he states “In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin.”
I suggest this book to anyone who wants unbiased fact without any of the common religious mud-slinging that frequently accompanies Evolutionary criticism or support books.
I give the book two thumbs up!