Jonathan Wells Explains Away the Evidence

If we’re exaggerating when we say we just read the most bizarre post ever to appear at the blog of the Discoveriods — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — then it’s an unintentional exaggeration. Anyway, that’s how it seems to us.

It’s by Jonathan Wells, upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the title of “Senior Fellow.” As we said here: Food Fight: Jonathan Wells and Richard Dawkins:

Wells is a Moonie, who has previously described the motivation for his biology career as follows [note that “Father” is Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the Unification Church]. The source of what follows is here: Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D., by Jonathan Wells. [The bold is from us.]

Father’s words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.

Now you know that — for religious motives — Wells has decided to devote his life to “destroying Darwinism.” Here is the beginning of his article, titled Why Does the History of Life Give the Appearance of Evolution? The bold font was added by us:

Fossil evidence suggests that life on earth originated about three and a half billion years ago, starting with prokaryotes (single-celled organisms without nuclei, such as bacteria). Much later came eukaryotes (cells with nuclei), which included algae and single-celled animals (protozoa). Multicellular marine animals appeared long after that. Then came land plants, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, primates, and finally humans.

It’s quite unusual to find a creationist talking like that. Most of them just ignore all that evidence, or they dismiss it as being based on unbiblical assumptions. But Wells goes even further:

Not only did living things appear in a certain order, but in some cases they also had features intermediate between organisms that preceded them and those that followed them. Kenneth R. Miller challenges critics of Darwinism to explain why we find “one organism after another in places and in sequences… that clearly give the appearance of evolution.”

Wells not only lays out all that evidence, he even quotes a challenge from Kenneth R. Miller, who was a lead expert for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. You’ve got to be wondering: What’s going on here? Is Wells coming over to the good guys’ side? Well, not quite. He responds to Miller’s challenge with an explanation for all that evidence. Let’s read on:

The answer is found in various religious traditions, especially Christianity. “Far from denying life’s progression, tradition provides a reason for it,” wrote Huston Smith in 1976.

Wikipedia has an article on the authority Wells is citing: Huston Smith. He’s a philosopher and theologian with wide-ranging interests. Wells purports to quote from one of Smith’s books, which provides the answer to Miller’s challenge. You gotta read this:

“Earth mirrors heaven. But mirrors, as we have noted, invert. The consequence here is that that which is first in the ontological order appears last in the temporal order.” Smith explained: “In the celestial realm the species are never absent; their essential forms or archetypes reside there from an endless beginning. As earth ripens to receive them, each in its turn drops to the terrestrial plane.” But “first a viable habitat must be devised, hence the inorganic universe is matured to a point where life can be sustained. And when living beings do arrive, they do so in a vaguely ascending order that passes from relatively undifferentiated organisms… to ones that are more complex.” Thus “man, who is first in the order of worth on the terrestrial plane, will be last in the order of his appearance.

Now you know why there’s so much apparent evidence for evolution. It’s a mirror of heaven — inverted, of course. Isn’t creationism grand?

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “Jonathan Wells Explains Away the Evidence

  1. Christine Janis

    Then why does that strange little phylum, the one that lives on lobsters’ lips, not make an appearance until the present day, after humans in fact?

  2. You’ll have to ask Wells, Christine.

  3. Christine Janis

    Perhaps *his* lips are sealed.
    (Apologies for misplaced apostrophe in previous post!)

    [That was fixed by the mysterious Curmudgeonly Force.]

  4. He forgot the smoke with order of mirrors.

  5. I just spent the day telling my students that Aristotle was wrong about the “Great Chain of Being”. What a waste, time to make that a basic tenet of biological science.

  6. Jon Wells, the big fat slob, has proposed many things. And if you look at his proposals then you find out that he’s been wrong every single time. Totally. Without exception. The only time Jon Wells was accurate was when he pronounced a few years ago, “I’m a big fat slob.” That was accurate.

    No need to go into detail. Suffice it to say that being a big fat slob is the most accurate prediction and the one thing big old fat slob Jon Wells is known for.

    I’m sorry, did that seem uncivil? I hope so.

  7. Is it merely the common hatred of Darwin that allows the fundamentalists at the Dishonesty Institute to allow Wells in their midst? Have the DI people become so open in accepting other “religions,” no matter how wacky? Does Wells give talks to Christian fundamentalist churches like West, Luskin, et. al? Ah, and it reminds me of the old authoritarian chauvinistic show “Father Knows Best.”

  8. So Klinghoffer just explained that ID isn’t religious at all, no siree, pure science all the way through. And now we learn that the ID explanation for the history of life is the Scala Naturae, the divine order of existence?

  9. Charles Deetz ;)

    So, all the facts leave him cornered to offer up what Smith said in 1976 as a final defense? About as convincing as saying ‘but Santa ate the cookies I left him’. Certainly philosophical, not scientific as we would normally expect from the great DI.

  10. Ugh – Jonathan Wells again. He loves bashing paleontology. He loves providing disinformation about the Cambrian Explosion.
    I spent about a week in his presence, along with other IDiots, plus many real paleontologists, in China at a field conference in 1999. Like many creationists who like to hang around real geologists, he had a smiling face and a pleasant demeanor. It’s kinda difficult to accept, initially, that he believes such ludicrous nonsense.
    OK, then – if the last appearing species on the “terrestrial plane” are those that are “first in the order of worth”, then it means that Wells & Smith & god consider Lake Victoria’s 500 species of cichlid fish as more important than Homo sapiens.
    All of those fish species are <12,400 years old. Homo sapiens fossils go back to about 200,000 years.
    Where does this kooky variety of creationism fit on Eugenie Scott's spectrum from flat-earther creationists to materialistic evolutionists? Maybe it's a "kind" of progressive creationism. Sheesh.

  11. CJ: “Then why does that strange little phylum, the one that lives on lobsters’ lips, not make an appearance until the present day, after humans in fact?”

    JStJ: “OK, then – if the last appearing species on the “terrestrial plane” are those that are “first in the order of worth”, then it means that Wells & Smith & god consider Lake Victoria’s 500 species of cichlid fish as more important than Homo sapiens.
    All of those fish species are <12,400 years old. Homo sapiens fossils go back to about 200,000 years."

    Verily, God works in mysterious ways. There are questions for which we will never know the answers. (That’s probably close to what Wells would say.)

  12. invertebratecounselor

    I think Wells forgot to multiply everything by the square root of the speed of light across the inverted terrestrial plane. He could go spinning off into the cosmos to be lost in a black hole without that.
    Anyway, the ‘Roids have lived up to their nickname once again.
    Life is good 🙂

  13. “Far from denying life’s progression, tradition provides a reason for it,” wrote Huston Smith in 1976. “Earth mirrors heaven. But mirrors, as we have noted, invert. The consequence here is that that which is first in the ontological order appears last in the temporal order.”

    This would have been just a few years after Smith’s LSD experiments … maybe before the peyote, but the question “what was he smoking?” is not completely rhetorical with Smith.

    So Moonie Wells is spouting some eastern-sounding mysticism that Smith probably invented whole-cloth and is claiming it explains the fossil record? I would love to see him trying to get THAT through a school board.

    Religious tradition explains scientific observations. Ya gotta love it.

  14. “Religious tradition explains scientific observations. Ya gotta love it.”

    As stated earlier, God works in mysterious ways. There are probably some school boards that would welcome Eastern mysticism, notably in California.

  15. Didn’t Klinghitler write a post at ENV just TODAY saying that ID was not religious?

    And on the same day, Wells writes another post at ENV that explains the whole fossil record as, “Earth mirrors heaven”?

    Yah, nothin religious bout dat.

  16. He says something almost interesting – that God had to wait until the Earth was ready for each species before creating it.

    But then I think – this means God created Earth in a state unfit for life. Why? If a planet full of life is what he wants, why not create that?

  17. It should be mentioned that there are other whacky explanations for the fossil sequence. In Creationism and the Fossil Record, Part 2 we described AIG’s “burial according to rising water” explanation, augmented with their “burial according to escape efforts” scenario, according to which the larger and more intelligent animals were trying to escape to high ground, so they got buried last and thus appear to be more recent in the geological record.

    Your Curmudgeon countered with his own theory: Creatures died and were buried in the Flood according to their sinfulness — the simplest creatures dying first, with minimal suffering, and the more complex creatures dying last, to prolong their agony — thus their appearance higher in the geological strata.

  18. David, there are a lot of links between Christianity and the Moonies. They share many of the same goals, and many of the same methods for achieving those goals.

  19. But what about the humans that were buried before the Flood? Their bones are at the same level as those of ‘the simplest creatures’.
    Not to mention the onions.

  20. Eddie, the argument as I’ve heard it – far, far too often – is that the laying out of the organisms was miraculous. I mean, really, the entireity, from the first day of creation to the end of Genesis, requires wall-to-wall miracles, so it’s hardly surprising.

  21. I love a little Johnny Wells in the morning, it smells like crazy.

  22. Diogenes wrote:

    Didn’t Klinghitler write a post at ENV just TODAY saying that ID was not religious?

    And on the same day, Wells writes another post at ENV that explains the whole fossil record as, “Earth mirrors heaven”?

    Yah, nothin religious bout dat.

    This is the favorite dodge of the IDiots. There are official positions All Science ™ and personal positions Crazy Bat Guano ™.

    Jonny Wells was obviously giving his personal position.

    How can you tell an AS position from a CBG position? Well, the Toot tells you. You just need to wait for a clarification from Attack Gerbil Luskin or Klinghitler to set you straight. You’d think that you’d be able to use Dembski’s Explanatory Filter ™ to distinguish between AS and CBG, but I think it’s in the shop getting a new framastat installed.

  23. Earth is a mirror of heaven!
    Evidence-based scientific theory – ID, the future, lol!

    Wonder what these people will say if microbes are discovered on other planets. That humans will appear there 3 billion years from now?!

  24. Theology, like science, is fundamentally an intellectual task. Each exercises the brain, and in so doing, brings the pleasure of deep and profound thought to the thinker, the writer, and the reader. Science starts with evidence and facts, theology with delusions and myths. The theologian, like the scientist, struggles to understand and to reveal truth. While the scientist reveals truth about the natural universe, the theologian reveals truth about the supernatural universe.

    Many readers of books by theologians have struggled in vain to comprehend the complex, difficult concepts contained therein, and have come away humbled by the experience, convinced that the author must be a very wise and deep thinker, to be able to have thoughts so deep that they can hardly be understood at all by ordinary readers.

    There is pleasure in these deep thoughts, and that is the full purpose of the art. Theologians are exercising the same parts of the brain that might be employed by useful thought, were any useful facts or evidence available to them. Unlike scientific thought, which may have useful results, no result comes of theology except the pleasure of its creation, dissemination and consumption. Theology is therefore best described as a form of intellectual masturbation. The principal task of the theologian consists only of pulling delusions out of the ass, rolling it out thin on the table, tying it in knots, putting the knots in little bags, labeling the bags, and sewing them together to create the clever and pleasing result – spiritual insight and divine revelation.

    Jonathan Wells seems to be pretty good at it. I was quite unable to comprehend the logic of his profound insights. He must be a very wise man.