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From Joshua Swamidass, a Gratuitous Drive-by Hit

Jonathan Wells


I have been following the exchange with Washington University’s Joshua Swamidass about cancer and evolution (see here, here, and here). I’ve done so from a distance and I do not plan to join in. That is because twenty years ago I grew tired of endless and fruitless debates with theistic evolutionists (now “evolutionary creationists”), who by claiming that Darwinian evolution is compatible with Christian theism abandon the principle of non-contradiction. The result is nonsense.

But on the BioLogos website’s Open Forum page, Swamidass has now dragged my name into the discussion with this statement: “Its [sic] probably worth pointing out that Johnathan [sic] Wells (an ID kingpin) might dispute this entire line of argument, saying that cancer is not a genetic disease.” Swamidass follows this with a quote lifted out of context from something I wrote twelve years ago.

My view (then as now) is that cancer cells contain hundreds or thousands of genetic mutations, which contribute substantially to the progression of the disease, but that cancer does not begin (as DNA reductionists claim) with an accumulation of single mutations. Instead (as many cancer biologists think) it starts with malfunctioning centrosomes that affect whole chromosomes. Had Swamidass carefully read what I wrote on this topic he would have known this.

So my (rhetorical) question is: Given Swamidass’s (and BioLogos’s) professed commitment to “gracious dialogue,” why did he engage in this gratuitous drive-by shooting?

Image: A centrosome, via Discovery Institute/YouTube.

Jonathan Wells

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Jonathan Wells has received two Ph.D.s, one in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and one in Religious Studies from Yale University. A Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, he has previously worked as a postdoctoral research biologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the supervisor of a medical laboratory in Fairfield, California. He also taught biology at California State University in Hayward and continues to lecture on the subject.