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Darwin’s One Wrong Argument

Image: Charles Darwin caricatured in Vanity Fair. Date: 1871

Editor’s note: We have been delighted to present a series by biologist Jonathan Wells on the top scientific problems with evolution. This is the eighth and final entry in the series, excerpted from the new book The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the CosmosFind the full series so far here.

Darwin called On the Origin of Species “one long argument.”1 It was an argument opposing the doctrine that species had been individually created, and an argument proposing the hypothesis that all living things are the modified descendants of one or a few common ancestors. But the hypothesis was unsupported in 1859, and the evidence for it is still insufficient. Homology has become circular reasoning. The fossil record remains at best inconclusive (and likely opposed to Darwinian gradualism), and molecular phylogeny is shot through with inconsistencies. Natural selection and mutation produce nothing more than changes within existing species. And the origin of species — Darwin’s central problem — remains unsolved.

On the Origin of Species may have been one long argument, but from the standpoint of empirical science, continued claims that the evidence for evolution is “incontrovertible”2 (as Richard Dawkins put it) might be better termed one long bluff.


  1. Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st ed., 459. 
  2. Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (New York: Free Press, 2009), vii.