Here’s my third post on the 2017 Westminster Conference on Science and Faith. This session was on Jonathan Wells and his book on Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution.
Wells, who has a Ph.D. in biology, began by considering how science has changed over time. Empirical science deals with seeking truth by formulating hypothesis and testing them against the evidence. This is how early science was characterized. But today we see more of an adherence to materialistic science, which isn’t about seeking truth; instead, it seeks “natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.”
Historian Neal C. Gillespie expressed this change very well when he said, “it is sometimes said that Darwin converted the scientific world to evolution by showing them the process by which it had occurred,” but “it was more Darwin’s insistence on totally natural explanations than on natural selection that won their adherence.” According to Darwin’s philosophy, science was limited to “the discovery of laws which reflected the operation of purely natural or ‘secondary’ causes.” And finally, “When sufficient natural or physical causes were not known they must nonetheless be assumed to exist to the exclusion of other causes.”
Evolutionary scientist Richard Lewontin concurs, stating “materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Scientists, we’re told, are supposed to follow the evidence wherever it leads, however, when it comes to evolution, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead there’s an element of faith that demands naturalism and refuses to acknowledge any kind of design by a creator.
Wells explains that when materialistic science masquerades as empirical science, then we have what he calls, “zombie science”.
One example of zombie science includes the famous Miller-Urey experiment conducted in 1952. Here, test tube results produced what they considered to be an atmosphere rich in hydrogen. But now scientists believe the early atmosphere was rich in oxygen, so their experiment doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Further, no one believes the experiment shows how life could spontaneously appear, yet this outdated experiment is still printed in science textbooks and is meant to indoctrinate students into thinking life could spontaneously appear by chance and naturalistic processes.
Ernst Haeckel’s fraudulent embryos is another example. In 1868 he published drawings of various embryos, such as a dog, hen, turtle and human in mid-development, and used them as evidence for evolution. He published another set of drawings in 1874. The drawings were highly inaccurate and distorted and were used to support his theory that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny- meaning that embryos go through evolutionary stages of development beginning with our earliest ancestors. Haeckel ignored earlier stages of development that were noticeably different, and his work has long been discredited. Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould noted, “we do, I think, have the right to be both astonished and ashamed by the century of mindless recycling that has led to the persistence of these drawings in a large number, if not a majority, of modern textbooks!”
Peppered moths and Darwin’s finches are still found in science textbooks today even though their evolutionary claims have been refuted. Both examples were meant to demonstrate evolution, but all they really show are change within a species over time. Moths could be dark or light, depending on various environmental factors, and finch beaks could be large or small, depending on climate and food supply. All this could happen within a single generation. Yet none of these changes account for the rise of new kinds of organisms or novel features. Both of these icons are still found in science textbooks.
Another example is the four-winged fruit fly. Scientists have interfered with the genes in this fly by adding mutations, but Wells points out that such mutations have produced only 3 outcomes: 1: normal fruit flies. 2: defective fruit flies. 3: Dead fruit flies. It doesn’t demonstrate how a wingless organism could develop wings in the first place.
Wells touched on walking whales, such as Pakicetus, a small, wolf-like mammal with a bone in its ear some scientists consider similar to a bone found in the ear of whales. This has been considered proof that this mammal was the ancestor of modern whales, despite evidence to the contrary. The animal’s entire body would need to be radically transformed, which is not supported by the evidence. It would need to develop flukes with specialized muscles, a functioning blowhole, and many other novel features, and it would need to happen in about four million years. At one time evolutionists believed this processed happened over 15 million years, but the discovery of a whale fossil in Antarctica in 2016 reduced the evolutionary time line by 11 million years!
There was also a time when scientists believed the human appendix served no function, so they considered it an evolutionary leftover and vestigial organ. But now we know that evolutionary tale to be false. The appendix is an important part of our immune system and shelters important bacteria. Yet textbooks continue to describe it as a vestigial organ to promote evolution.
Wells points out that there are advocates of Darwinian medicine who wish to force medical students to study evolution, but such studies have never contributed anything of value to science. Nonetheless, these people see it as necessary to convince students to believe in evolution. But if this type of medicine can’t cure anyone, then it’s unnecessary and damaging to real science.
Many of these examples have been presented as evidence for evolution for as long as I can remember, but they have been thoroughly refuted for years. Nonetheless, I’m not surprised they remain in science textbooks today. Wells is right to claim these are icons of evolution, and it will take much persistence before they go away- if they ever do. These are just a few cases that represent zombie science. Check out his book if you’re interested in learning more!