Explore Evolution The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism

Jonathan Wells

Misrepresenting the Gálapagos Finches

According to the online critique of Explore Evolution by the National Center for Science Education: (A) EE claims that natural selection produced only oscillations in beak size in Galápagos finches, but “in the course of a few years, the size changes within species were large enough to explain the differences among the various species of Galápagos finches,” and “the size and shape of finch beaks did change over the course of the 30 years that biologists have been studying the populations.”[1](B) EE claims that Galápagos finch species are merging rather than diversifying, but “the hybridization observed in the finches is not enough to merge two species, and observations in the field have actually shown substantial evidence of incipient speciation.” Furthermore, EE “introduces an extrapolation which bears no Read More ›

Fact and Fiction about the Peppered Moth

According to the online critique of Explore Evolution by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): (A) “Textbooks do not use peppered moths as an example of something new being created, they use it to demonstrate what natural selection can do in mere decades.”[1](B) EE “claims that many research scientists think Kettlewell’s experiments were invalid because he released his moths during the daytime, when moths are sleepy and sluggish,” but “no research scientists think this. This claim is found nowhere in the research literature.”[2](C) EE “claims that because peppered moths don’t rest on tree trunks, which is where Kettlewell put them, his experiments are invalid,” but “peppered moths do rest on trunks.”[3] (A) Use of Peppered Moths in Explore Evolution EE does not claim that textbooks “use peppered Read More ›

Genetic Toolkits

According to the online critique of Explore Evolution by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): The authors of EE “omit the recent research showing evolutionary conservation of the genetic pathways regulating animal development.” Biologists “now know there is an evolutionarily conserved ‘genetic toolkit’—a set of genes responsible for constructing all animals, from sea anemones to fruit flies to humans (Carroll et al. 2005, Davidson, 2005). The only mention [in EE] of the genetic regulation of development refers to the outdated macromutation theory from the 1940’s by Richard Goldschmidt.”[1] The NCSE Critique’s claim that except for mentioning Richard Goldschmidt, EE fails to discuss” the genetic regulation of development” is false. Such a discussion is found on pages 101-111 of EE. Unlike Neo-Darwinists, however, EE challenges the idea that DNA controls Read More ›

Haeckel, Darwin, and Textbooks

According to the online critique of Explore Evolution by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): (A) EE falsely claims that Darwin accepted Ernst Haeckel’s Biogenetic Law that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” In particular, the claim in EE that “Darwin thought that the observable similarities in different embryos revealed what the ancestors to these organisms would have looked like” [p. 66 of EE] “contradicts the majority view of prominent Darwin scholars (including Ernst Mayr, Stephen Jay Gould, David Hull, and Peter Bowler).”[1](B) EE “falsely asserts Darwin thought the similarities between embryos were greater at the earliest stages of development,” and falsely suggests “that common descent and Haeckel’s Biogenetic Law require that the earliest stages of animal development are most similar.” But Darwin actually thought that “embryos at the earliest stages Read More ›

Anatomical Homology and Circular Definitions

The critique by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) of the chapter on anatomical homology in Explore Evolution (EE) begins by misrepresenting EE’s treatment of the subject.[1] The NCSE claims that EE “never provides a clear and consistent definition of homology,” and that EE “repeats the erroneous creationist canard of claiming that homology’s definition is circular.” Both of these claims by the NCSE are false. First, EE provides a clear definition in its glossary: “Homologous structure: a body part that is similar in structure and position in two or more species but has a different function in each; for example, the forelimbs of bats, porpoises and humans.” (p. 146) In addition, EE’s chapter on anatomical homology begins with the following: “Why should the pig’s forelimb and your own arm have Read More ›

The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism