Icons of Evolution & Zombie Science Book Review

William Brunhofer

DM in in Religious Ed., New York Theological Seminary


Download this review as a PDF

Jonathan Wells’ remarkable twin works, Icons of Evolution (2000) and its sequel, Zombie Science (2017), debunk the top 16 arguments of both the classic and recent “icons” upon which the Darwinian theory of evolution hinges. Wells writes: “Empirical science is devolving into zombie science, shuffling along unfazed by opposing evidence.  Discredited icons of evolution rise from the dead while more icons – equally bogus – join their ranks.  Zombies are make-believe, but zombie science is real – and it threatens not just science, but our whole culture.” (Wells 2017)

Indeed, this threat to “our whole culture,” as he says, is easily seen as all the philosophers and practitioners of militant materialism, chiefly Marx and his early followers, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, as well as, Ho Chi Min, Kim Jun Un, and so many more modern-day disciples everywhere in our political class who have hitched a ride on Darwin’s “discredited” train of claims with its caboose, the new claims of the Neo-Darwinists.  Like a religion with its Book (Origin of Species), its Canon (16 claims or “Icons”), and its Hero-Saint (Darwin), along with its Prophets, Priests and would-be Kings (Lenin, et al), the Darwinian “fact train” of “evidence” lumbers on.  And Jonathan Wells reveals in a painstakingly scientific and scholarly way, the false claims, fakery and bare lies that populate the origin, canon and big idea of the great hero-saint, Charles Darwin, and his triumphant followers.

To begin, Wells opens this ambitious enterprise by unpacking Darwin’s “scientific” study of the evolution of human beings in his first myth busting enterprise with the release Icons of Evolution in 2000 where he stated after a painstaking examination of all the propositions and so-called evidence in Darwin’s case, for the evolution of man via the power of natural selection and the survival of the fittest. Wells concludes that the “ten images, ten icons of evolution . . . do not fit the evidence and are empirically dead.”  Among these famous icons which to this day are placed in our children’s biology textbooks from primary education to college are the Miller-Urey Experiment, Darwin’s Tree of Life, Homology of Vertebrate Limbs, Haeckel’s Embryos, Archaeopteryx, Peppered Moths, Darwin’s Finches, Four Winged Fruit Flies, Fossil Horses, and the most famous of all, the Ape to Human Icon.  To this original ‘top ten’ have been added an additional 6 through the work Darwin’s successors, the Neo-Darwinists, and this list includes, DNA - The secret of Life, Walking Wales, the Human Appendix, Human Eye, Antibiotic Resistance, and Cancer.

Taking a look a just a couple of claims made in Darwin’s name, “evidence” according to his followers, the Ape to Man Icon, which Darwin himself concluded that, if the fossil record does not support the existence of transitional species between ape and man, then there is no evidence that his theory is true, and therefore must at best remain a theory (from On the Origin of the Species (1859).  Yet, each new highly promoted claim of discovery of the ‘missing link,’ has been eventually revealed to be untrue, such as the Piltdown Man discovered in 1912: its teeth had been filed down, an ape jaw, and the bones had been stained. Then, Peking Man was discovered in the 1920’s, but on further examination was merely a human tooth found among animal bones in a town garbage dump with other human bone fragments.  And then came ‘Lucy,’ the ape-woman who turned out to be merely an ape; Java Man, another ape; Neanderthal Man, an old man with arthritis; then New Guinea Man in 1970, turned out to be a member of an unknown, but surprise, a living island tribe!  Still, all these names appear in biology books today as though they are proven evidence of missing links, and thus confirmation of Darwin’s theory of evolution.  

Haeckel's Discredited Embryo Drawings

And a second, so-called evidence showing a change of species, concerns research Darwin did on the Galapagos Islands where he collected some varieties of finches with different sized beaks.  These specimens, biologists a hundred years later dubbed “Darwin’s finches” and invented the legend, states Wells, that he “correlated differences in the finches’ beaks with different food sources (see Darwin and his finches: The evolution of a legend, Frank J. Sulloway, 1982),” when he had not.

Then, biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant with others visited the islands in the 1970’s and began discovering that a severe drought killed off about eighty-five percent of the birds, as food supply of the birds was reduced to only hard seeds which were difficult for the birds to crack.  Those birds which survived were found to have bigger beaks, five percent on average, than those which perished.  The Grants claimed the bigger finches demonstrated the power of natural selection and could establish solid evidence for the evolution of a species.  Indeed, Peter Grant proposed that if drought conditions continued once a decade on average, the effect would be to “transform one species into another within 200 years.” (Peter R. Grant, “Natural selection and Darwin’s finches.” (Scientific American, Oct, 1991) However, the evidence only showed microevolution, a minor adaptation within the species and not an actual change of species.  Again, Darwin’s claim is that there must be a change of species from a common ancestor to explain the variety of life on earth, and not merely evidence of adaptation, otherwise his theory could not be proven.

The ‘top ten “evidences” of the truth of Darwin’s theory, “should have been buried,” writes Wells, “but they are still with us, haunting our science classrooms and stalking our children . . .  to promote a grand materialistic story even after scientists have shown that the icons misrepresent the evidence.”  Moreover, says Wells, “establishment science is less interested in evidence and critical thinking than it is in promoting the doctrine that all life can be explained materialistically.  In science, a theory . . . is dead when it doesn’t fit the evidence.” Yet, Neo-Darwinists insist that “evolution is the only possible explanation,” in spite of there being no empirical evidence.  Establishment science and scientists cannot say “I don’t know.” So, the doctrine of materialism determines all, and is the under-pinning, not only of Darwin’s theory and that of the Neo-Darwinists, but of the moral order itself in western and other cultures.  

Indeed, not only is there no empirical evidence, Wells points out in a 2009 book, Signature in the Cell, where philosopher of science, Stephen Meyer, argues that the “complex information in biological molecules cannot result from unguided natural processes such as the spontaneous aggregation of chemicals.  The only known source of large amounts of complex information is intelligence.”  Thus, Meyer concluded that “the origin of life required intelligent design.”  Yet still, so-called science continues to argue that life originated materialistically in spite of the lack of evidence.  So then, what is this science?  Wells takes us on a journey to a definition.

Today we can see that science has come to mean different things, Wells tells us. Besides empirical science, there is also technological science, establishment science (aka, scientific consensus) and finally we have arrived at what Wells calls “zombie science,” a “materialistic philosophy masquerading as empirical science.”  What is important to Wells’ analysis of all the so-called proofs or evidence that humans evolved, is to truly follow the scientific method, which is

“. . . the enterprise of seeking truth by formulating hypotheses and testing them against the evidence.  If our hypothesis is repeatedly tested and found consistent with evidence, then we may tentatively regard it as true,” but if inconsistent with evidence, then “we should revise it or reject it as false.” (Wells 2017)

It is interesting that even when evidence appears to repeatedly support a hypothesis, still we may only “tentatively regard it as true,” Wells argues. Why tentatively?  In empirical science, the enterprise is to seek truth.  So, if evidence which we had concluded was a fact, turns out later to be tainted, misconstrued, or misunderstood in its context, then empirical science must reject it, and do so publicly.

“Exposing students to the massive gaps in our understanding,” would be far more helpful, says Rice University synthetic organic chemist James Tour. (Tour, Inference, May 19,2016).” Instead, recycled disproven icons persist in textbooks leading students at every level to continue in what has become a community of believers, not in science, but in lies parading as truth everywhere in the so-called scientific community of believers in the Darwinian message that human descent from primordial ponds and apes, to humans, just has to be true.

Why do we take the side of so-called science or establishment/consensus science, argues Richard Leowontin, in spite of the fact that its “assertions defy common sense,” its “constructs can be patently absurd,” it “fails to fulfill many of its grand promises of health and life,” and that there is a “tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories . . . because we have a prior commitment to materialism.”  And so, “we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes, to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.  Moreover, that materialism is absolute . . . for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” (The New York Review of Books, Jan 9, 1997).

In our era of the pandemic CoVid19 physical virus, Wells has called out the establishment parties and factions in the research and scientific communities, education, media, government, politics, and the whole culture, who have been infected by the metaphysical virus of zombie science.  And this infection has been, and continues to be, purposely spread undermining core Judeo-Christian and other religiously based moral values and systems which have supported the nuclear family and our constitutional republic. And in their place, the ancient, value-relative, gender-neutral, and radical egalitarian, redistributive ‘social justice’ moral order is quickly spreading, demanding state ownership or control of all wealth and property in the name of the “ideal society.”  In this “ideal society,”  men and women come to worship themselves as the center, living within the new hard borders of state controlled lives and livelihoods, a moral order where the eternal and intrinsic spiritual value of the individual, is subsumed to the all-powerful state to which the citizen is fast becoming its servant.  Inherently incompatible with every religiously based moral order, this brave new moral order must, therefore, eventually cancel, every voice that does not bend the knee to its will, as history and present experience profoundly demonstrate.

With Icons of Evolution and Zombie Science, Jonathan Wells has done a great service to the citizens of this nation, western culture and the world, and his work should be considered essential reading and study for all who seek truth in science, as well as, every arena of life and culture.