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UCSD IDEA Club Hosts Lecture by Jonathan Wells (Report) - February 6, 2002

This was a statement released by the IDEA Club at UCSD after the lecture:

On January 29th, 2002, the IDEA Club hosted a free public lecture, "Icons of Evolution", by molecular biologist and author, Dr. Jonathan Wells in Price Center Ballroom B. Jonathan Wells has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale. His recent book, Icons of Evolution (Regnery, 2000) sold thousands of copies, was featured on CNN, and has sparked controversy in many school districts by showing that many of lines of evidence used in biology textbooks to support evolutionary theory are false.

IDEA was very thankful for and pleased with the turnout, and thankful that many from UCSD and the local community came out to hear the talk. We estimate around 250 (revised 2/11/02) people attended. The audience was very friendly and civil, even during the many dissenting viewpoints expressed at the question and answer period. IDEA would like to thank the many people from the UCSD community who came to the talk.

The evening lecture helped those attending see how many lines of scientific evidence commonly cited to support the theory of evolution--the "Icons of Evolution"--are false. Wells had time to discuss 3 of the "Icons" he discusses in his book--homology, the Cambrian explosion (Darwin's tree of life), and embryology-- and he showed the following diagrams and data in support of his positions:

Diagrams of the pre-Cambrian and Cambrian fossil record, showing how predictions of evolution fail.
Diagrams and actual photographs of the embryological development of stages of various vertebrates vs. Haeckel's drawings, and showed how their stages do not reflect what is expected if "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny".
Diagrams of the targets activated by a particular hox gene found in a variety of different animals and how it does not reflect predictions of inheritance from a common ancestor.
Diagrams of the vertebrate fossil record for whales showing an alleged sequence of evolutionary fossils, followed by a discussion of other possible interpretations.

IDEA also passed out "Opinion and Response" cards during the talk, which asked people what they thought of the talk. Of the 72 who responded to our question, "How valid or convincing for you was Dr. Wells' talk?", here is a short summary of the responses we received:

I'm Convinced: 41 (57%)
Mixed Feelings: 19 (26%)
I disagree with Dr. Wells: 12 (17%)

The Q & A session was lively with a number of dissenting questions from the audience, including some regarding the mammalian fossil record, embryology and hox genes, and Dr. Wells' position on intelligent design. Dissenters also passed out a rebuttal to Dr. Wells, to which the IDEA Club leadership has responded. Please click here for our response.

An informal symposium and booksigning was also held from 12-2 pm at the UCSD Price Center Ballroom B. The turnout for the booksigning / symposium was fairly small, and we weren't able to get a discussion started as we had hoped. The turnout may have been affected by the fact that it was raining for much of the time, and people didn't want to get wet. We apologize to those who came to the symposium hoping for more than was there.

We are very thankful to Jonathan Wells for his willingness to come speak at UCSD on the topic of the icons of evolution. We also appreciate the way that our campus responded, and that even those who disagreed with Dr. Wells still showed respect. In the past 5 years, UCSD has heard Michael Behe (1998), Phillip Johnson (1999), William Dembski (2001), and now Jonathan Wells (2002). We genuinely feel that our campus has been sensitized to this issue, and that even dissenters respect the intelligent design position. Hopefully this won't be the last intelligent design speaker to visit UCSD, and continue the dialogue!