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The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Kansas Evolution Hearings

Part 2


CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: If I could have your attention, please. We're getting ready to get started with the afternoon session. Another announcement, I might mention that if you leave if you leave by any door you must be rescanned every time you re-enter. Sorry that has to happen, but that's the order of the Capital Police. Therefore, I would ask you to try to be efficient this afternoon regarding the bathrooms. If any possibility of staggering, that would be good. But also-- also we're going to extend our intermission ten minutes. We were scheduled from 3:30 to 3:40, we're going to extend that to 20 minutes, 3:30 to 3:50 in an effort to accommodate that. Therefore, we'll also extend the other two sessions after that by ten minutes as needed. And I thank you for your perseverance. Mr. Calvert.

MR. CALVERT: Thank you.

JONATHAN WELLS, Ph.D., called as a witness on behalf of the Minority testified as follows:


Q. Doctor Abrams, members of the committee, I'd like to introduce to you Doctor Jonathan Wells. Doctor Wells, has come from the State of Washington. Where do you live there.

A. I live near Bucoda Sound, northwest corner of Washington State.

Q. I really appreciate your coming all this way to talk about the issue. To get started, Doctor Wells, would you please explain a bit about your background and your occupation at the time of the Minority Report. And in particular I believe you're going to be addressing the evolution benchmark at standard three, benchmark three, at grades eight through twelve?

A. Yes, thank you for inviting me. I earned a bachelor's degree in physical science, which included mostly physics and geology in the late '60s from the University of California at Berkeley. Went on to get a Ph.D. in religious studies at Yale in the '70s and early '80s. And did my research there on the 19th century Darwinian controversies, the religious and theological.

A few years after that because of my interest in the Darwinian controversy, I went back to school, proof that I'm actually certifiably insane if you want to know the truth. Maybe I shouldn't make jokes here. That's what people told me at the time. I went back and got a second Ph.D. in biology, molecular and cell biology, again at the University of California at Berkeley where I focused on embryology and evolution.

Since then I have worked as a supervisor of a medical laboratory in California for a while. Then was asked to come up to Seattle as a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute there.

Q. Could you tell us a bit about the Discovery Institute and your relationship to it now?

A. The Discovery Institute is a public policy institute, not for profit institute. It actually preexisted the current controversy. It has projects that focus on regional cooperation between Oregon and Washington and British Columbia, specifically transportation issues, fishery issues, technology issues.

And in 1996 the center for science and culture was founded at Discovery Institute specifically to address the Darwinian controversy in public education. And I was invited to come up then as a senior fellow. Which is where I am now, I moved up in '98 with my family. I'm not an employee of the Discovery Institute. I receive a research grant for which no goods or services are required. But obviously my interest in the institute-- (reporter interruption). I have a fellowship-- a research fellowship in Discovery Institute, which does not require goods or services, so I'm not an employee. But the research I do is obviously of interest to the institute.

Q. Could you describe a bit of that research?

A. Specifically in-- probably notoriously in 2000 I published a book "Icons of Evolution", in which I showed many of the major images used in biology textbooks as evidence for evolution and the facts do not fit the evidence.

I first discovered-- the one I first discovered was the picture of embryos, which I'll talk about in a few minutes, because I was studying embryology. And I would compare pictures with the embryos I was actually looking at and realized there's a discordance there. And I went on from there to study various other icons and found similar discrepancies between the icon and the evidence.

Q. In your program I guess you will tell us what an icon is?

A. Well, I call them icons because they're pictures, first of all. They're pictures that have taken on an aura that goes far beyond their evidentiary value. They become symbols almost of evolutionary theory. And in that sense of almost iconic status. That's why I call them icons.

Q. Now, your book was published 2000?

A. Yes. Revised slightly in 2002.

Q. And I believe it has been reviewed by a number of different people, scientists. Is that correct?

A. Yes, it has. The number of published reviews is probably somewhere around a dozen, of which roughly half are favorable and half are extremely unfavorable.

Q. What about the unfavorable reviews?

A. Well, I responded to them in an article I posted on the Discovery web site a few years ago called "Critics Rave Over Icons of Evolution," because they were raving reviews in the sense that they were extremely angry with me. And I hope I showed them in that response that on a scientific level nobody has actually rebutted the claims I made. Instead typically what happens is my credentials are impugned, my integrity is attacked, and various other things. It's a campaign more of character assassination than dealing with the evidence.

Q. I have also heard the argument that even though icons themselves may be incorrect in various cases they still represent deep fundamental truths. Is that the criticism that's been made?

A. Yes, it has. But I try to be very careful in my book to say exactly why the icons are wrong. For example, the peppered moth icon, which to be specific has the peppered moth resting on a tree trunk where we now know they don't normally rest, is used as evidence for natural selection. Well, I have no quarrel with natural selection, so I'm not saying that the falsity of that icon refutes natural selection.

But for each icon that I deal with what I do say, and I think legitimately, is that if this is sought or presented as some of the best evidence we have for Darwinian evolution and so much of it is false, where does that leave the theory. Because sooner or later if a theory is going to be scientific if you have to test it against the evidence. And if piece after piece of that evidence turns out to be exaggerated or distorted or even fake, then I think the theory itself at some point becomes suspect.

Q. Your criticisms in "Icons of Evolution", and I've read the book, tend to weaken evolutionary theory, would you agree with that?

A. The evidence is what weakens evolutionary theory.

Q. Is that--

A. I have no desire to weaken any theory except by comparing the evidence. What I don't want to weaken is science, because science thrives on comparing the theory of evidence.

Q. Do you believe science education should oppose curriculum that has the effect-- whether intended or not, has the effect of weakening evolution or putting it in a bad light?

A. Well, I'm certainly no supporter of weakening the treatment of evolution in science curriculum. In fact, I think if anything a student should learn more about evolution than they're currently being taught. They need to be taught the theory more clearly, they need to be taught the evidence for it, and the evidence against it. And in most cases often I see a rather superficial treatment of evolution that doesn't really get into the issues. And I find the issues extremely interesting. And my experience-- my limited experiences with students is that they find it interesting too.

Q. You've read the Minority Report?

A. I have.

Q. And what is your overall assessment of the proposals in that report?

A. My overall assessment is that it improves the set of standards that were on the table before the Minority Report because it raises issues that I think are important to raise in the science classroom.

Q. Regarding the definition science, one of the proposed changes in the Minority Report is to substitute the definition of science that was very similar to a definition adopted in Ohio. And I believe you're familiar with that definition. I wanted you to comment on that and I will put that up on the screen here. There it is. The Minority Report-- oops. It may be a bit hard for you to read that. Okay. The definition of science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observations, hypotheses, testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument, and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomenon. Maybe you could comment on that definition?

A. Well, I will and I'll comment also on the statement that it's replacing up there, namely science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.

I realize that there's room for a lot of controversy on a topic like this, so my first tendency in a situation like this is to go look for data. So I went looking at the science standards for every state in the United States. I literally spent two days glued to my computer, not very healthy, but I found the science standards or what I could find for all 50 states. And I was actually somewhat surprised to learn when I did that that in defining science as the human activity of seeking natural explanations, namely to mention the majority view, is absolutely unique in the United States. There is no other state in the union that defines science that way.

In fact, what I found, if I could hold this up for the Board, the yellow states have no explicit definition of science that I could find on the internet. The green states all define science in terms of a process, a process of inquiry, formulating hypothesis, seeking evidence, testing the hypothesis against the evidence to find better explanations for potential world phenomenon. In this sentence the Kansas definition that proceeded this controversy was idiosyncratic. No other state has that definition. No other state gives priority to the explanation we're supposed to find. Every one else gives priority to the process.

In this sense the minority view, in my opinion, is actually putting Kansas back in the mainstream of American science education. And as a scientist myself-- and I have the data here which I'll hand that to you later, as a scientist myself I hear this. I would not like to see science become an enterprise where we're told at the outset what sorts of explanations we're supposed to find. For me science is an exciting, open ended search for truth. And the way that's conducted is through hypothesis testing. And I think the minority view replacement definition here is much more in line with that than the definition of science as seeking natural explanations.

Q. Doctor Wells, I'd like to turn now to the evolution benchmark. There we go.

A. I want to get a quick drink.

Q. Okay. This is the benchmark that you're going to talk about and that you have a power point presentation to cover?

A. Yes, if that's okay. The reason I'm using power point is because so much of this is visual, which is why I wrote about icons.

So this is the part of the benchmark that I will specifically focus on in the power point. Namely the view that all living things-- the view that living things in all major kingdoms are modified descendents of a common ancestor. Now, Darwin's theory-- now, I'm going to be speaking here today about Darwinian evolution. Evolution as we've already heard is a very broad concept. And I'm specifically addressing Darwin's theory namely that living things are modified descendents of creatures that lived in the very distant past. Descendent modification is what Darwin called this theory.

The modification Darwin thought was due primarily to natural selection acting on random variations which the modern version of Darwin come from genetic mutation. So in a nutshell that's the theory I'm addressing here.

The only figure in Darwin's book, "The Origin of Species" is this one. And by it he meant to illustrate what he meant by his theory. So in the distant past we might have a small species down here. He drew two here that converge further down. We have a species here that has a variety of forms in it. Two parts of this population might get separated and one form would go this way, the other form would go that way and eventually split into two species. Further down the road the differences might be greater. Instead of two species we might have two genre or families or orders or classes or right up to the highest levels of the biological hierarchy.

Now, no one doubts common ancestry at the level of the species. I have no problem believing that all of us in this room somewhere in the distant past shared a common ancestor. But is it true at higher levels? Are all the different types of animals related by common ancestry, for example. Do we share a common ancestor with a worm or a fly? That's the question I'm going to address here. And we have to address questions like this in science by looking at the evidence. So of all the levels that we could look at, I'm choosing this-- actually we already know that there's substantial doubt about the one above it. But I'm going to look at the animal phylum, it's the phylum institute that includes-- it would be us and mammals and the alligators and the fish. Another phylum would be the phylum that includes sea urchins and sea stars, another one would be the mollusks or the snails and the squids and so on and so on. So these are the phyla, plural, the major different kinds of animals.

Now, according to the benchmark, this is proposed to be added by the Minority Report. Okay. This view that the major kingdoms I'm actually dealing with phyla, which is a smaller kingdom, are modified descendents of a common ancestor has been challenged in recent years by three things. Molecular evidence, fossil evidence, and embryo evidence. And I'll deal briefly with all three of those.

First, molecular evidence. I'm going to pick just to illustrate this seven phyla, seven major groups. We're in the chordate group, here are the starfish, these are flatworms, roundworms, mollusks, arthropods which include the crabs and the insects and earthworms.

Now, if we look at the molecules in these organisms and we group them according to the similarity of their molecules we can rearrange them, thus. So these-- the molecules here are most similar-- they're more similar to each other than they are to these, for example. These are more similar than they are to those. So we can regroup these according to the similarities in this particular molecule, which I won't try to describe in technical detail, but it's the one commonly used.

Now, if we construct a tree, an evolutionary tree following Darwin's pattern passed on this molecule, we get something like this. But the-- clear that the only data we have are up here. We have the molecules from these organisms and the rest of this is inferred based upon the assumption that they share a common ancestor. What's interesting is when we look at these molecules various discrepancies immediately appear. For example, the tree I just showed you from 18s RNA doesn't fit the classical tree that had been shown on the base of morphology or anatomy. Animals that are close together up here are far apart over here. Not only that, if I pick a different molecule 28s RNA, I get a different tree again. Here's the 18s tree, here's the 28s tree. Okay. Once again, animals that are closely related by one are not closely related by another.

Imagine that you found out that your grandfather was not the least bit related to you, but-- you know, related to people half a world away. This is pretty fundamental biology stuff, you know, it matters who you're related to. Even worse if we take the 18s RNA and submit it two different laboratories, as it was done in this case, again, we get two different trees. So the molecular evidence is shot through and through with discrepancies.

A recent article in Nature just last week shows that this controversy is continuing. These trees here, it shows these two trees in nature. Here, we, the chordates are most closely related to the arthropods or the insects, but according to this other molecular study we're way off here and the insects are more closely related to roundworms. These are not trivial issues in evolutionary biology.

So the inconsistency in the evolution tree based on molecular comparisons have to actually be explained away in the light of evolution theory. They actually don't provide evidence for the theory. I'm not saying the theory is proven false, but this certainly doesn't provide evidence for it.

Now, according to reviewer Wiley, who reviewed the Minority Report, these discrepancies do not challenge the view that all living organisms are related through common ancestry. Reviewer Bartlett wrote something very similar. And while I can't necessarily prove them wrong-- I mean, maybe we really all are related to a common ancestory and just haven't figured out how to make the molecules tell us the true story. At the very least we can only say this based on some other form of evidence. We're not getting it from the molecules.

So what other forms of evidence do we have? Well, the other two forms generally proposed are the fossil evidence and the embryology evidence. So that's what I'll talk about next, the fossil record. According to the Minority Report sudden bursts of increased complexity, such as the Cambrian Explosion, challenge the Darwinian view that we're all related through common ancestry.

Now, in Darwin's theory - this is a very simplified cartoon of it - the phyla that I showed you a few minutes ago are up here and if we had good fossil record, which, of course, we don't, we would expect to find something like this in the past where these branch off somehow to the common ancestry which might be, for example, some form of worm. Ideally this is what we would expect. When we go looking at the fossil record what we found instead is this. Most of the major animal phyla appear abruptly, theologically speaking, in the Cambrian Explosion, with no fossil evidence that might actually be from a common ancestor. Theory versus evidence.

Now, remember common ancestry might be true at lower levels, but at this level, the level of the animal phyla, the fossil evidence certainly isn't helping us. Darwin himself recognized this. He said this actually presented a serious problem, a valid argument, I'm sorry. To suddenly appear in the Cambrian must remain inexplicable and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views of common ancestry. I would argue as a biologist that the problem has not been solved in the 150 years, at least not in the fossil evidence.

Now, reviewer Wiley criticized people who think the Cambrian Explosion is a big deal. He says it is not. And they, myself I guess, would know this if they actually examined the recent literature. Well, I have examined the recent literature. For example, Wiley cites two articles in 1996 that rely on molecular studies - there we are back to that - to date the original divergence of the animal phyla to about 12 hundred million years ago or about seven hundred million years before the Cambrian Explosion. The problem is other molecular studies true to form come up with a very different answer and give us a date much closer to the fossil record. According to Berkeley paleontologist James Valentine and his colleagues-- now, these are not Intelligent Design proponents these are not creationists, these are actually not even people who doubt Darwin's theory in a larger sense, but these paleontologists who are experts on the evidence say the accuracy of molecular clock is still problematic, at least for the phyla since the estimates vary by hundreds of millions of years depending on the techniques use. So they do not muffle the Cambrian Explosion which continues to stand out as a major feature in animal evolution contrary to reviewer Wiley.

Reviewer Wiley then cites two other articles reporting fossil evidence for animals before the Cambrian Explosion. What's interesting is one of the articles he lists is considered an extremely dubious interpretation of fragmentary data by other experts in the field. The second article is, at best, controversial. So here we have two articles, dubious and controversial, up against literally hundreds of articles documenting the dramatic and extensive nature of the Cambrian Explosion and we're supposed to accept the Cambrian Explosion based on these two articles. Well, I'm not persuaded. Clearly Darwin's theory of life does not fit the fossil evidence for the origin of the major groups of animals.

Finally, number three, embryology. I love this part because I'm an embryologist primarily. For Darwin the best evidence to his theory was embryology. He said the embryos are the most distinct species belonging to the same class, such as mammals are closely similar, but become, when fully developed, largely dissimilar. This is by far the strongest single class of facts in favor of my theory. Actually by class in that point Darwin meant phyla. And to illustrate a colleague of his in Germany, Ernest Haeckel, made this drawing in 1868. And many of you, I'm sure, have seen it or some version of it. Here's a salamander-- I'm sorry, a fish, a salamander, a turtle, a chick, four mammals. And in Haeckel's drawing they all look almost identical in their early stages. And the lesson from this that Haeckel drew and Darwin himself drew is that this shows all of these share a common ancestor. And, in fact, to Darwin the common ancestor probably looked something like that. The problem is Haeckel faked his drawings. He was known to have faked his drawings. At the time his colleagues accused him of fraud. If you look at the actual fish, amphibian, turtle, chick, human embryos if you look at them at this stage and draw them from life they look more like that. This is what I saw as a Berkeley graduate student and realized there was something wrong here.

Well, reviewer Miller, when he comments on this part of the standards, admits that the earlier embryonic stages were incorrect. And he says textbooks have long been corrected now to reflect Richardson's observations. Well, Miller did correct his book somewhat. I'll get back to that in just a minute. But here are two textbooks from 2004. Biology textbooks copyright dates 2004 and there are Haeckel's embryos. Here's a biochemistry textbook from 2004, this is for graduate students. Well, maybe not. Upper division undergraduates perhaps. And there are Haeckel's embryos. So, yes, they have been removed from some textbooks, but certainly not from all.

Reviewer Theobald says that it's true that the embryos were fake, but that does not invalidate the fact that development is more similar between two animals the more recent is the common ancestor between them. In other words, the main point is still true according to Theobald. Wiley takes a similar view. The more recent the common ancestor, the more similar the development. And reviewer Miller likewise argues that the principle is true even if the drawings are wrong. And Miller then takes the Minority Report to test for telling students that vertebrate embryos differ in ways that they do not.

Well, here's the picture from Miller's book. He uses photographs. He certainly cannot be accused of faking drawings here. In the early stages of development chickens, turtles, and rats look similar to providing evidence that they shared a common ancestor. So the principle for Miller is still true. But let's take a closer look at the evidence.

Choosing embryos only from certain classes and then distorting them to make them look similar is not Haeckel's main fault. Even more significantly he didn't even show the earlier stages of vertebra embryos, he started in the middle. If you look at the earlier stages of vertebra embryos, here's the stage that Haeckel made look very similar. If you look at earlier stages the patterns are extremely diversional. Mammals, for example, begin their cell division in a way total radically different from the other classes. So instead of-- and here's a comment from a Dartmouth embryologist to that effect this is not a secret, it's only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence by bending the facts of nature that one can argue that the earliest stages of vertebrate embryos are similar when they're adults. Instead what we really have with the evidence is what is now called, by developmental biologists, the developmental hourglass. Okay. The embryos start out very different, they converge in the middle for reasons we do not understand and then they diverge again as they grow older. Well, remember Miller's pictures, these are photos now that can't be accused of being doctored. But look at where he got them. He picked three-- the three most similar of these five embryos and left these out, picked the three most similar at this stage where they're the most similar and he called this the earlier stages and then he accuses the Minority Report of telling students that embryos are more-- are less similar than they really are.

Now, here's another textbook-- I honestly don't know if Miller's book is in use in Kansas, but I know this one is. This is "Biology, The Dynamics of Life." I'm sorry that's next. This one here-- I don't have the book with me, but Campbell, Williamson, and Heyden has this set of pictures. Well, same thing again. These are taken from the two most similar at this stage and represented as evidence that embryos are most similar in their early stages, which is absolutely false.

I was going to hold another book up which does the same thing, but I think the point is made. So I'll summarize recent challenges to universal common ancestry molecular data do not yield the consistent pattern of evolutionary relationship. Fossil records of the Cambrian Explosion certainly do not fit the branching tree patterns of Darwin's theory. And embryos are not most similar in their earliest stages. So my conclusions is there are discrepancies between Darwin's theory of evolution and the evidence from molecules, fossils, and embryos. Science students should know about them. Thank you.

Q. Doctor Wells, sort of a follow-up question, the-- I believe that it's indicator 1 F that you did your power point slide discovered. Do you agree all living things in all natures kingdom--

A. Yes, F 1, 2, and 3.

Q. Yeah. Now, would you comment on the scientific validity of-- in 1 F, 1, 2, and 3?

A. The Minority Report's proposal?

Q. Yeah.

A. Well, certainly the evidence supports them. I mean, there may be a pedagogical question should high school students be exposed to this. But given the-- usually the way Darwin evolution is often presented as though there's overwhelming evidence for it and no dispute about it. Clearly that's not the case. So I do think students should be exposed at least in outline to these problems.

Q. Would it be fair to say that exposing students to this information would improve their understanding in biological evolution? And when I say understanding, understanding in terms of comprehension, being able to comprehend the subtleties of the theory so it can be more reasonable?

A. Well, remember I didn't use the term biological evolution. I used the term Darwinian evolution. If by biological evolution you mean the facts that we see that living things are different now than they used to be, this evidence certainly increases the students knowledge of that pattern of difference. What does it do to Darwin's theory? Well, I think it weakens Darwin's theory. The evidence weakens Darwin's theory. But for science that's good. If the theory doesn't explain the evidence then it should be weakened in the eyes of the students. They shouldn't be told something explains evidence that isn't there. They should be aware of the evidence.

Q. We were just talking about the definition of evolution and I'd like to take your attention up to indicator 1 A where the Minority Report adds a couple of sentences to the definition of biological evolution and ask you to comment on the additional-- two additional sentences in indicator-- additional specificity on 1 A?

A. Well, honestly I would not call it biological evolution there because to me that term is too broad. I would have written that Darwinian evolution or Darwin's theory of evolution. And if it were written that way I would say it's absolutely true, at least in Darwin's mind. Remember my first Ph.D. was on the 19th century controversies and I actually wrote a book about Darwin's view of teleology and guided evolution. It was very clear that the process of evolution was unguided. If by biological evolution you mean Darwinian evolution, this is a fact, historical fact.

Q. So if you were to substitute the word "Darwinian evolution" in your opinion anyway, the statement would be a scientifically valid statement?

A. Historically true, yes. And that's not just Darwin himself, but his followers with various exceptions. Am I through?

Q. I have some more questions of you. Okay. In indicator 3 D there's a discussion of micro and macroevolution and a distinction is made in the Minority Report, which you would not find in the mainstream report. My first question is whether it is appropriate to make the distinction between micro and macroevolution changes and then whether 1 D, in your view, is a scientifically valid teaching?

A. Well, I was fascinated to read the review by Hurd. Hurd wrote in his peer review of the Minority Report, quote, "I am confident that there are other qualified commentators who would have pointed out the absurdity of differentiating macro and microevolution, a term that has no meaning outside of creationists limits." Well, I don't know Mr. Hurd, but this statement is wildly false. The term micro and macroevolution were first used by neo-Darwinist Theodosia Dobzhansky in his 1937 book, "Genetics and the Origin of Species". And I'll just quote a few sentences here. There is no way toward an understanding of the mechanism of macroevolutionary changes which require time on the geological scale, other than through a full comprehension of the micro evolutionary process observable within the span of a human lifetime and often controlled by a man's will. For this reason we are compelled at the present level of knowledge, reluctantly, to put a sign of equality between the mechanisms of macro and micro evolution and proceeding on this assumption to push our investigations as far as this working hypothesis will permit.

Now, the terms macro and microevolution are found throughout the evolutionary literature right up to present day. And what's interesting is that this problem that Dobzhansky pointed to is that we actually can't get a handle on the macroevolutionary process without extrapolating from microevolution. This problem is still with us and it's highly controversial among biologists. I on my way down --on the way down here was finally getting a chance to read a book that came out in 2003, it's called, "Origination of Organism of Form". Now, these are imminent evolutionary biologists. As far as I know there's not an ID proponent in there, certainly not a creationist. As far as I know all of them have a faith that sooner or later completely natural explanations can be found for all this phenomenon. But to a person these writers say quite clearly that there's a problem extrapolating microevolution and macro evolution, a scientific problem. It's just undeniable throughout the scientific literature. Maybe I could comment briefly on one term that appears in that paragraph, irreducibly complex.

Q. Yes.

A. Another reviewer, reviewer Theobald, wrote in his review of the Minority Report, quote, "The term irreducibly complex is not found in the scientific biological literature and the concept is not used by real research biologists. Rather it is a term from the pseudoscientific publications of intelligent design proponents." While this isn't quite as wildly false as was stated about micro and macroevolution, it is false nevertheless. As far as I know the first person to use the term irreducibly complex in the biological literature was Michael Katz of Case Western University and he used it to describe-- maybe I can just read it briefly, natural systems that cannot be reduced to smaller precursors. And Katz regarded them and their existence as a serious problem for Darwinian evolution.

Now, Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe got quite notorious when he proposed Intelligent Design as an explanation for irreducible complexity. But the phenomenon of irreducible complexity is independent of that explanation and preexists in the biological literature. It is not a term coined by Intelligent Design at the press.

Q. Is it fair to say that the argument that this system is irreducibly complex is essentially a challenge to neo-Darwinism or to the accuracy of natural selection?

A. Absolutely. Darwin himself acknowledged that although he does not use the term irreducibly complex he wrote in the origin of species, if it could be demonstrated-- if it could be-- I went from all to nothing. Are we still here? If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which couldn't possibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. And he's talking in there about the same thing that Katz was talking about.

Q. Have there been a lot of scientific criticisms that irreducible-- the idea of irreducible complexity has been completely refuted, could you comment on that?

A. I can comment briefly, but I just haven't been able to keep up with the voluminous literature on that subject. But there's a long and ongoing debate between Mike Behe, Scott Menick, various other people on the one side and Ken Miller and various other people on the other side as to whether the specific feature is irreducibly complex or not. And I think that's a legitimate controversy. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't.

Q. It hasn't been resolved?

A. No, it hasn't been resolved. It's continuing. But that controversy is actually distinct, as I said, from the explanation Darwin provides to try to account for irreducible complexity once established as a theory.

Q. Is that information that would be the fact that there is that controversy over that issue-- pretty deep controversy, is that something that would help and kind of aid the students understanding of what you would call Darwinian evolution?

A. It would certainly aid in their understanding in the sense that they would know there's a controversy over whether Darwinian mechanisms can account for irreducibly complex systems if such exist. There certainly is controversy over that.

Q. Doctor Wells, I want-- I believe you're familiar with the Ohio curriculum that--

A. I have read it.

Q. -- has been adopted by the State of Ohio. If you could just briefly explain what that curriculum is, why it was developed, and what parts of that curriculum support the proposed changes in the Minority Report that are reflected in benchmark three?

A. Well, I have read the Ohio curriculum. I don't claim to be an expert on it, but it's certainly, I think, a model for how evolution should be taught if the schools have the time to do it. This particular curriculum, I think, takes an estimated duration of four to six hours of class time. Which given the purported importance of evolution theory in modern biology I think should be well worth it in a biology curriculum.

But the Ohio curriculum goes into quite some detail presenting the arguments and evidence for and against various aspects of Darwin's theory. And it provides an appendix with an annotated bibliography, sample questions and answers, study guides. I mean, it's really a valuable resource and I am recommending to the State of Kansas doing something like that.

Q. I believe there will be other witnesses that will testify about that and we'll, at a later point in time, introduce copies of the Ohio curriculum. Doctor Wells does not have those with him, but Doctor Wells does have with him some written testimony that he will hand to the committee and the reporter and Mr. Irigonegaray.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: May I have that written report now, if he's going to rely on it for any purpose whatsoever, please?

MR. CALVERT: Beg your pardon, sir?

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I would like to have his written report if he's going to rely on it or has relied on it for any purpose.

MR. CALVERT: Well, we will provide that.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: If he has it, I would like to have it so I can question him.

THE WITNESS: It's up to you, John.

MR. CALVERT: If we have it, sure.

Q. (BY MR. CALVERT) Doctor Wells, in conclusion--

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Thank you very much.


Q. (BY MR. CALVERT) In conclusion could you explain why you believe the State of Kansas should implement the proposed revisions in the standard three, benchmark three of the high school science standards?

A. Yes, very briefly. Although I have indicated my disagreement possibly with a word or two in the actual phrasing of things, I think it's a valuable addition to standards because it alerts teachers and students to problems with evolution theory. Darwinian evolution theory is very real and currently very controversial within the biological community. And I think it actually makes the whole study of evolution far more exciting when students know about that, rather than just having to memorize things by rote. Which is one reason why in the beginning I emphasized the process of science rather than the learning of specific explanations.

Q. Thank you very much.

MR. CALVERT: I believe Doctor Wells is open for questions after he gets a drink of water.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Hold it just a minute. Mr. Irigonegaray, you have 24 minutes.


Q. I have a few questions for you, sir. You are the same Jonathan Wells as the individual that is the senior fellow at the Center for Renewal Science and Culture, the acronym CRSC?

A. That was a former acronym. That was the original name of the center. It's now the Center for Science and Culture, CSC.

Q. Which was a branch of the Discovery Institute?

A. It's one the programs of Discovery, yes.

Q. Which is a private funded conservative think tank based out of Seattle?

A. It's a privately funded think tank. It actually includes a lot of people who would not consider themselves conservative.

Q. It is true, is it not, that it believes that Science, in general, and the theory of evolution, in particular, are responsible for materialistic, atheistic philosophy, whose destructive cultural consequences in our society must be reversed?

A. I'm not sure where you're getting that statement.

Q. Do you agree with that statement?

A. No.

Q. So you disavow that statement?

A. I do not think science is responsible for cultural materialism. I think a misuse of Science is responsible for it.

Q. Is it your opinion that science today, particularly mainstream science represents that which I have read?

A. A large number of scientists today would subscribe to the sort of view that is being criticized there. That's a sociological statement, not a statement about science per se.

Q. Is it true that the CRSC--

A. CSC. Q. CSC. Give me that acronym now, please?

A. Center for Science and Culture, CSC.

Q. It's been changed to CSC. When was that change made?

A. A couple of years ago. I'm sort of on the edges of it as a research fellow, so I'm not directly involved in their day-to-day activities.

Q. You were certainly involved with it when it was the CRSC?

A. I was a senior fellow then, yes.

Q. And it is true that as part of the former CRSC strategy, now the CSC, the wedge was a strategy for replacing science as it is currently practiced with Intelligent Design, which is a theistic science which would allow supernatural causes. That is true, is it not?

A. True of what?

Q. Of what the former CRSC, now the CSC has a goal through the wedge?

A. I don't know. I don't know what document you're referring to.

Q. Are you familiar with the wedge?

A. I have heard of it.

Q. You have just heard of it?

A. I read some version of it years ago. I haven't seen it since. But my own view and the view of people I work with is not that science is the culprit here. Materialistic philosophy in the guise of science is the culprit.

Q. And who do you allege are materialist philosophers?

A. Well, I could name some names. Daniel Dennett, for example.

Q. Are you suggesting that the majority of scientists in the United States and the world that adhere to the theory of evolution may be defined as such?

A. I wouldn't know how to evaluate that. I certainly couldn't evaluate it outside the United States. I do know that several of the professional societies that I belong to in biology do have statements like that as policies.

Q. Is it your belief that mainstream science is biased against your views?

A. If by mainstream you mean the majority of currently practicing scientists and by bias against my views, I assume you mean my criticisms of evolution theory as in icons of evolution, the answer would be, yes, most of them disagree with me. I am definitely in the minority, which is why I'm here supporting the Minority Report.

Q. That's pretty obvious you are in the minority.

A. I enjoy being in the minority. I'm more comfortable.

Q. More than being right?

A. More than you? I missed that, I'm sorry. I prefer to be right. If that means I'm in the minority, so be it.

Q. Now, sir, it is true, is it not, that the former CRSC, now the CSC, has as its long-term agenda to extend Intelligent Design to all aspects of the culture, as their name indicates, to hope to renew science and culture in some sort of a mix?

A. I'd say that's true, yes. But the method by which that's intended is to have Intelligent Design win on the scientific grounds.

Q. It is true--

A. It's obviously a long way from having done that at this point.

Q. It is true, is it not, that as a member of the Discovery Institute you first joined in 1996?

A. I became a senior-- well, the center was founded in 1996, yes. I forget the exact date when I became a senior fellow. I moved to Seattle in 1998.

Q. Is it true that as early as the 1970s you were a member of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church?

A. Yes.

Q. And is it a fact that while involved with that church you became convinced that evolution was false because it reflected-- it conflicted with your church belief that humankind was specifically designed by God?

A. I became convinced that the Darwinian theory is false because it conflicts with the evidence.

Q. You keep using the term Darwinian evolution. You would agree, would you not, that since Darwin the science of evolution has advanced greatly?

A. Well, then I would include in that neo-Darwinian evolution, which is just Darwinism combined--

Q. You keep using Darwinism and neo-Darwinism, isn't it, in fact, the science of evolution that we should be speaking about and not using terms that are intended to simply draw a reaction if we're interested in speaking about science?

A. I prefer to be precise. The problem is the term evolution, as several speakers before me pointed out, is vague. I mean, it can mean change over time. I've seen it defined in textbooks as change in gene frequencies. Well, that's not correct. My children have different gene frequencies from mine and they haven't evolved.

Q. Please answer my question, Doctor Wells.

A. I'm trying to be precise.

Q. It is true that since Darwin 150 years ago the science of evolution has advanced greatly? As an example, Darwin had no knowledge about genetics, did he?

A. No, he didn't. That's why I said neo-Darwinism is Darwin's theory combined with modern genetics. Neo-Darwinism. So it's true I could say neo-Darwinian evolution, that would actually be more accurate in this situation. So I'll say neo-Darwinism evolution.

Q. Is that the manner in which you would broadly paint all scientists involved in evolution as neo-Darwinist?

A. Absolutely not. I just saw in the book where people say neo-Darwinism fails and they would call themselves evolutionary biologists in some general sense. So that is why I am specifically criticizing neo-Darwinian evolution, Darwinian evolution for shorthand.

Q. After you received your degree in biology you did immediately go to work for the Discovery institute, did you not?

A. No, I didn't. I worked for several years as supervisor of a medical laboratory in California.

Q. Doing what?

A. Supervising a medical laboratory.

Q. Doing what?

A. Well, not only laboratory tests-- actually I've been a medical laboratory technologist for about 25 years. But as supervisor I had to schedule people, I had to supervise quality control, I had to maintain a computer system. So in addition to my duties, I had these administrative duties as well.

Q. Doctor Wells, do you have a personal opinion as to how old the earth is?

A. I think the earth is probably four-and-a-half billion or so years old. But I'll tell you this, I used to-- I would have said, a few years ago, I'm convinced it's four-and-a-half billion years old. But the truth is I have not looked at the evidence. And I have become increasingly suspicious of the evidence that is presented to me and that's why at this point I would say probably it's four-and-a-half billion years old, but I haven't looked at the evidence.

Q. You do accept, do you not, common descent within species?

A. Within a single species, of course. I don't know anyone who doesn't.

Q. What about among species?

A. Among species? Well, I stated in my power point that I find it extremely unlikely based on the evidence that the animal phyla are related through common ancestry. Other biologists have said they're dubious of common ancestry at levels higher than that. The levels in between, I don't know. As a scientist I would have to say each case would have to be settled based on the evidence.

Q. What about between humans, the humans-- Homo sapiens and other species, such as prehominids?

A. I think it's extremely unlikely based on the evidence.

Q. You would agree that that opinion is a rather insignificant minority that believes that?

A. Well, I don't feel insignificant, but I've already conceded I'm with the minority, yes. If someone could show me a mechanism whereby an ape-like creature could turn into something like a human, I would accept it. But I've looked and I haven't found it, not even remotely close.

Q. It is important, is it not, to keep science neutral as far as faith is concerned?

A. Well, faith is a loaded word. But I'll say, yes, for the sake of argument. I find lots of faith in science, actually. Faith in common ancestry, for example.

Q. And the fact that someone-- the fact that someone is involved in the study of the natural process in the scientific process, that does not, in your mind, equate to that individual not being able to maintain a religious faith which is compatible with science and evolution, is it?

A. I see no problem at all. In fact, the world's greatest scientists were very religious people, including the world's greatest biologist. Except for Darwin.

Q. To your understanding is there anything in the standards that prevent teachers from discussion of these sort of issues and evidence and controversies you have raised?

A. Certainly nothing positively discourages them. What I find discouraging in the existing standards is the tone of Darwin only. We're going to present Darwinian evolution as though it were the explanation.

Q. Where in the standards does it say that only Darwin theory is to be taught?

A. It doesn't have to be because it presents only Darwin's theory. And I'm not actually suggesting that it present other theories, I'm not. I'm suggesting that the standards should include at least knowledge of the fact that there are problems between this explanation and the evidence.

Q. It is true, is it not, that a gentleman named Paul Nelson, together with Mr. Johnson and others, were instrumental in the early days of Intelligent Design?

A. Phillip Johnson, Paul Nelson.

Q. Yes.

A. Yes, they're still involved in it.

Q. I'd like to read a quote to you from Mr. Paul Nelson. "Intelligent Design proponents offer nothing to the scientific community upon which a scientific program can be developed. They don't even have clearly defined definitions of critical terms that can be understood and applied by others. For example, they have provided no objective basis upon which others can apply concepts, such as irreducible complexity or specific complexity."

A. Specified.

Q. "They focus on critiques of evolutionary theories that either attack strong views of evolution, misrepresent current science, or are simply based on flawed reasoning. They also point to areas of frontier science in which the scientific community is yet to reach a consensus. None of this constitutes any challenge to the predicted and explanatory power of evolutionary theory. In short, with regard to Intelligent Design there is nothing there. There simply is no theory of ID or anything approaching it. ID is not used in scientific research, even by its primary proponents. All ID is is a series of failed and rejected criticisms of evolutionary theory. Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full fledged theory of biological design. We don't have such a theory right now and that's a real problem. Without a theory it is very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now we've got a bag of powerful intuitions and a handful of notions such as irreducible complexity and specified complexity, but as yet no general theory of biological design." I'd like to ask you a couple of questions about that quote. It is true, is it not, that there is no such thing as an ID theory?

A. I wouldn't say that. By the way I don't think all that's from Paul Nelson.

Q. It is true, is it not, that there is no ID theory?

A. I just said, no, I don't believe that.

Q. You believe that there is a definable theory of Intelligent Design?

A. Yes, I do. It's certainly in progress. I would not advocate putting it in the curriculum for reasons other people have given here. It's a young theory. It hasn't proved itself, it doesn't deserve a place in the curriculum as a requirement. It's an exciting theory and I think a robust one. And not all of that is from Paul Nelson.

Q. And would you agree that Intelligent Design must, in the end, conclude that a designer was involved?

A. A mind, yes. A designing mind. If something is actually designed, then a designing mind had to do it.

Q. But you're not suggesting it was the design of man?

A. Designed by man?

Q. Yes.

A. Well, certainly before humans appear on the scene, no it couldn't be.

Q. So the answer, which ID attempts to provide, is a supernatural one, is it not?

A. I won't go there. And here's why, I've said already I do not think science benefits from defining ahead of time sorts of explanations that it can find. There are already scientists-- respected scientists in this country who do experiments on things that most people consider supernatural, such as prayer. When Newton proposed the theory of gravitation it was dismissed as supernaturalism because it was action at a distance. What constitutes supernaturalism in today's science may very well not be supernatural in tomorrow's science. That's why I emphasize the process of testing hypotheses against the evidence.

Q. I understand, sir, but there is a difference between looking at nature and asking questions versus looking at questions and because we cannot find an answer at the moment assuming that it had to be an intelligent designer?

A. That's not how Intelligent Design works. Intelligent Design is not an argument for ignorance. What it does is it sets certain criteria by which we normally, in the course of our daily lives, determine whether certain things are designed or not and then it argues that that can be extended to creatures of the natural world. Obviously that's a controversial claim, but I think it is a legitimate one.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I have nothing further.


Q. Thank you for coming, Doctor Wells.

A. Thank you for inviting me. I love controversy.

Q. Irreducibly complex, where did that term originate or where in the research did that start showing up?

A. As far as I know-- and I actually gave you a handout about it.

Q. I noticed that and I can study it later if you feel like I'm going to get my answers there?

A. It's just documented there.

Q. Okay.

A. The citation is there. As far as I know the first use of it was Michael Katz of Case Western University.

Q. Around what year?

A. 1986. I'm sorry. 1986, which was ten years before Michael Behe's study.

Q. Now, this prebiotic soup that we discussed earlier, there was a speck that landed in the soup. What's the scientific term for that? Is it a cell? What is it that we just discovered or they were saying was irreducibly complex, what's the term? Was it a cell?

A. Are you talking about origin of life researcher what they would say?

Q. I don't even know. I'm just saying what was the first piece of life?

A. The first piece of life?

Q. According to Darwin, what was it called?

A. Well, Darwin was not clear on this. He didn't pretend to have the answer. He talked about a warm little pond, but he didn't really deal with it.

One modern evolutionary biologist, Carl Woese, at the University of Illinois years ago thought that he could show that all the domains of life-- the major domains were related, but came to the conclusion just in the last few years that they were not, that they emerged separately from this primordial soup, or whatever you want to call it. And that the soup itself consisted of a mixture of complicated molecules that interacted like-- sort of like living things, but not quite like living things. And I'm trying to represent Woese's position. It's not my position, so I'm not sure I have it right. He would say something like that.

Q. Okay. What has been discovered to be reducibly complex?

A. Well, something reducibly complex would be anything that would continue to function after you take certain parts away from it. Irreducibly complex means that those parts are necessary for the functioning. If you remove any one of them then the thing you're talking about stops functioning. That's irreducible complexity.

Q. Okay. I'm going to pass the mike for now and see if I can get my questions possessed. Thank you.


Q. Doctor Wells, you state that neo-Darwinian evolution and biological evolution are not the same, how are they different?

A. Well, they're often confused, as they have been here. But I know people who would call themselves evolutionists who distinctly disavow neo-Darwinism. So there has to be a larger class of evolutionists and some general sense that living things have changed over time by some mechanism which we don't yet know as opposed to neo-Darwinian evolutionists who think that the change happened by neo-Darwinian mechanisms. So there's a distinction in the scientific community.

Q. Okay. I understand the thought about neo-Darwinian evolutionists. But if someone calls themselves a biological evolutionist, what does that imply or how is that different?

A. Well, I think you'd have to ask each individual. It might mean, for example, they will be-- an interest in common ancestry, so everything shares a common ancestry, but the mechanism of change are something other than what Darwin or neo-Darwinians proposes. But you'd have to ask each individual what he means or what she means.

Q. So why would you say that as has been stated before and you have stated also that the word evolution is a rather slippery word? Why is that? Why don't we be distinct and be specific?

A. I try to be. I really do try to be.

Q. In the science field, I mean, it is not generally considered to be distinct and specific?

A. Well, often it's a throwaway word. I mean. It's just a word you put out there, you know, it's just part of the jargon. If you're dealing with a specific aspect of it in a scientific writing, then usually you define that aspect and zero in on what that is. Very few biologists would say I am not an evolutionist. I mean, in a sense-- in a general sense I'm an evolutionist, but I'm definitely not a Darwinian or a neo-Darwinian evolutionist.

Q. What would you say-- or can you state what the hypothesis of the theory of neo-Darwinian evolution is?

A. Yes, I'll do my best. First of all, Darwin's theory-- and this is an extension of that, Darwin's theory is that distinct with modification. All living things share a common ancestry and they have become modified through natural selection acting on random variations. Now, the only addition in neo-Darwinism is that the variations are explained by recourse through genetic mutations, genetic differences. So it's natural selection acting on genetic variations causes things to evolve from a common ancestor. That would be it in a nutshell.

Q. As I understand it when Albert Einstein was first trying to bring out his theory of relativity he made a prediction that light would actually bend and that was unknown at the time and it was-- he made this prediction, stepped out there, and made it and in a few years certainly found that it was, that light can bend. Therefore, he stepped out and that was an act of falsification, he was able to state this hypothesis.

A. He took a risk.

Q. And he stated a prediction and it either proved it false or it substantiated it. And it's substantiated it at that point in time. It was not proven false. So with that in mind the prediction that with the hypothesis of neo-Darwinian evolution that there is common ancestry, why doesn't the analysis, the evidence that-- about the 18sRNA tree versus the 28sRNA tree falsify that, why doesn't that do that?

A. In my opinion because neo-Darwinian evolution has left the realm of science. It now functions as an assumption, an underlying given, a dogma. It cannot be falsified. Nothing can falsify it because it's a given. It does make predictions. I would argue that virtually every prediction it has made above the species level has been falsified in the sense you just described and yet the theory is still with us. And I would argue that that is evidence for nonscientific nature. Now, why should it be taught in science class, because sociologically it is still part of science. I just think it should be taught fully.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Thank you very much. Any other questions?


Q. Thank you for telling us a little bit more about Intelligent Design. We have a lot of people addressing us and saying, well, this is not science and why and when I say, well, I think it has a scientific basis they still argue that it's not science. Can you address any of that why is Intelligent Design science and--

A. Well, it's interesting. If you read the evolutionary literature, at least before the last few years when this started brewing more heated, Darwinian evolutionists have consistently argued against Design. Darwin himself did. Hundreds of pages in The Origin of Species included the argument against design. The argument was that the evidence will show that what looks like it's designed can actually be explained by natural processes.

Now, if evidence can show that something is not designed, then in principle evidence can show something is designed. You can't have it both ways. You can't say suddenly-- well, you can't argue for design because all of a sudden that involves something supernatural. Darwin was excluding the supernatural and claiming that the evidence justified it.

I would say if you're going to resort to evidence on one side, you can resort to it on the other. And for me that's all Intelligent Design does, says the evidence we see points to design. Where we go beyond that is a theological question. I'm also a theologian so I know those questions, but that's not science.

Q. We appreciate you being here. It's been fascinating to hear some of your comments and remarks.


Q. I just have a brief question.

A. Oh, I'm sorry.

Q. That's okay. You had a reference to Darwin, I believe it's one of his books and it went on concluded by summary, would absolutely breakdown. Is the reference to that quote in the material you gave us?

A. It is. It's in the supplement K on irreducible complexity and it's from The Origin of Species.

Q. Okay.

A. Chapter 6.

Q. Okay. What was it that he said was irreducibly-- he didn't say irreducibly complex, but what was he talking about if that ever broke down or if that ever was termed to be irreducibly complex then his theory would break down, that's my paraphrasing, what was that thing he was talking about?

A. If anything could be shown to be like this, you mean?

Q. Yes.

A. Anything at all. The eye, the hand, the human person, a leaf. Any feature-- he was speaking specifically of the biological world, but any feature that could be shown not to have been formed by numerous life succession modifications then his theory would absolutely breakdown. It could be anything.

What's interesting is all it takes is one, one example and Darwin's theory is finished according to Darwin himself. And Intelligent Design theory, you might know, does not need to see everything as design. We follow the evidence where it goes. If it's design, fine. If it's not, that's what the evidence shows.


MS. MARTIN: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Thank you, Doctor Wells. Mr. Calvert.

MR. CALVERT: Doctor Abrams, looks like we go ahead and start with Doctor Simat. We might be able to not have to stay beyond 5:30. So if it's okay with you I'd like to go ahead and call Doctor Simat.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: If we could bring order back, please. If you'd take a seat. Please, take a seat. Mr. Calvert.


BRUCE SIMAT, Ph.D., called as a witness on behalf of the Minority and testified as follows:


Q. Doctor Abrams, members of the committee, I'd like to introduce you to Doctor Bruce Simat. And, Doctor Simat, I want to welcome you and thank you for traveling all the way from the fair state of Minnesota-- Wisconsin, I guess it is.

A. No, don't go there.

Q. Minnesota. Would you further introduce yourself and give us a bit of information about your background?

A. First of all, I'm not a cheese head. My name is Bruce Michael Simat. I'm currently at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

My background starts with the University of Minnesota, Duluth, where I gained my bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry. I then went to the Duluth Medical School and got my master's degree in human physiology with biochemistry. After I did a research project there then I moved on to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and did my Ph.D. work in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Physiology in human physiology and biochemistry-- and biochemistry as a minor, but almost a second major. My thesis research was delving into the nuclear site of action of thyroid hormone and how it turned on specifically messenger RNA and the genome itself. After the University of Minnesota, I went to work for the U.S. Government at the VA Medical Center in a postdoctoral position looking at toxicology and specifically looking at how to modify specific therapeutic drugs that could be used as cardiotonics to reduce arrhythmias as well as to reduce bronchial congestion for asthmatics.

In that experience I learned how specific biomolecules really work in the human body in a therapeutic fashion and how the slightest modification changed either their therapeutic value or it enhanced and made the drug extremely lethal. We were able to take some of those drugs and make them therapeutic at doses 1 X and lethal at does 2 X. You want to be very careful with cardiotonics.

After that two-year experience I moved to Abbott Laboratories in Chicago, Illinois, and worked for four years with them in their medical diagnostic division. There I invented new biomolecules for that division. Biomolecules that were used to produce blood tests in the hospital market. After that I went to--

Q. What were you testing for in your blood tests?

A. Oh, things that you might not like. Pregnancy tests and human thyroid hormone, prolactin hormone. And we had a very successful unit. In fact, I also headed up a group that was a new technology group looking to produce some of these tests in the home market so that they could be a home pregnancy test, for instance. And we worked very carefully with new techniques in delivery where you could do mass amounts of protein attached to small plastic particles. So I learned a lot about material science there as well.

And that is why I was hired through head hunters to come to Minnesota to look at a job that was produced by Sanofi Diagnostic Pasteur, which is French company in Minneapolis. And there we worked on diagnostic tests, but more importantly I think is the experience I had with the new technologies. I learned very carefully how to produce blood tests with a new technology. In fact, three new technologies. I actually won a science award for technology in putting the biomolecules on them.

Since that time-- and that-- I guess that was eleven years ago when I quit that job. Since that time I have worked for Northwestern College in Minnesota. And for the last eleven years I've been teaching a variety of classes there.

Q. Why did you take the job at Northwestern? What did they ask you to do?

A. Well, actually I had a choice of going into technology again, biotechnology. There's plenty of companies in the twin cities where you can do biotechnology, but I-- I don't know if I can explain it easily. I really had a yen to try teaching because I had not really been a professor in a college before, although I had taught extensively through the businesses. So I was hired because of my extensive background in teaching in business and teaching bio and biotechnology.

They had a two-year associate degree in science and it had just been approved by the State of Minnesota to be upgraded to a four-year bachelor's degree. So they had no one to teach the third and fourth year classes. In fact, there were no third and fourth year classes. So my job was to invent them. And, in fact, doing curriculum development for all upper division classes. That's quite a challenge.

Most people go to the university system or any kind of college system and take over a position, not invent two years of classes. So I had a unique experience under my belt here for eleven years of developing classes for developmental biology, immunology, animal biology, physiology, biochemistry, principles of biology, concept of biology. I think there's more.

Q. Did you run into evolutionary theory in developing the curriculum for these programs?

A. Everywhere. In my first year of teaching there-- this being a Christian college I sort to wondered whether or not I would be at odds teaching at a Christian college and teaching evolution theory. What I found was that the students did a very good job of provoking me. And I use that word provoke in to knowing the evolutionary science very well. And I did not know it that well in my first year. And I realized-- a very sharp example to me here was that I realized that all of my undergraduate biology, all of my master degrees biology, and all my doctoral biology had only been very superficial in how it presented evolution. I knew all the standard jargon, I knew all the standard theories, I knew all the standard propositions, but when I was teaching in the textbooks what I did not know is how it actually operated. I had never been really taught how it actually operated.

Q. Did you use evolutionary theory in your operational science when you were working for Abbott labs and a couple of these other places?

A. I would say probably not at all, not at all.

In fact, I realized in over those 15 years of research and development that I didn't run into anyone who ever mentioned evolution. It was not a topic of conversation over lunch, over anything. It has no meaning. In operational science out there, it really has no meaning.

Q. The argument has been made that in Kansas the Minority Report would somehow be embraced by mistake that would drive bioscience out of the state, probably along with many other economic resources, could you comment on that?

A. That's interesting. I don't know how that could be possible. Not only have I never run into evolution in the variety of companies, I seldom run into it at all. With any of my colleagues in the University of Minnesota, which I have several friends working there still, it seems to come up as a topic of conversation only if someone is actually teaching evolutionary science. Other than that, it does not seem to come up in anyone's research per se.

In fact, I've been told by colleagues that if it wasn't for the-- this is their words, if it wasn't for the fact that it was required of them in their conclusions to make evolutionary claims, they would not put in it their papers at all. And what I found is that's probably fairly true with most researchers who are in the many disciplines who are looking at very narrow investigative areas.

As a biochemist I was-- I was so deep into very narrow areas of how biomolecules work and how to modify them and how to make them profitable, in fact, that there is no reason to vary outside of that.

In fact, I read an article on a web site recently that was complaining, if you will, about the biochemist coming here to testify. And the individual said that, oh, that's okay, he's a biochemist, they usually don't know much about evolution. And I twinged at that a bit and I realized that that was absolutely true. Except that now after eleven years my students have forced me to learn about evolution.

So they have provoked me. The students provoke me to know everything about evolution because they came up with so many questions. The textbooks were very dogmatic in their approach to evolution, especially macro evolution and origins. No one had any trouble in my class talking about microevolution and diversity. No questions come from that. Every one is just amazed how well that works together. But every one has questions about how macroevolution can work. I found eleven years ago that I couldn't answer that. Now, eleven years later, I still can't answer that and I read everything. I have the opportunity in my position of not having research required of me so I dabble in research with students for their own specific research purposes because it's very important that they have specific research projects that they can show-- we have colloquium that are available to them at the University of Minnesota, our own school and at various other schools that they can show they have actually done specific personal research projects.

So, yes, we work with research, but I do not have to have grants, I do not have to have a publish or perish attitude. That is not put upon me by my institution. That has allowed me to dabble in the fine art of reading everything that I can and that has helped me so much to understand exactly what evolution says and evolution cannot say by the data.

Q. Doctor Simat, we were talking about this and you explained to me how you began to develop curriculum and I think you said you first went through the textbooks and you would study the materials in a section dealing with micro evolution and then you would move to other chapters further on in the book. Can you talk a bit about that?

A. Some of the provocation coming from the students came from the wording in the textbooks. In the chapters, for instance, in genetics, when I teach that course the wording, the verbs, if you will, used in describing mutations is very precise and very accurate and very declarative. They, with data, are able to declare that the mutations are deleterious, that there are insertions, deletions, et cetera and that they cause problems with the function of that gene.

And then when we get to the chapter on macroevolution the question is asked-- and this is pages later, chapters later. The question is asked can macroevolution lead to new forms of life. And the answer in one word was certainly. And then all of a sudden the verbs change to what I call soft verbs. No longer is it we know, we have tested, data shows. It is now should have, could have, must have been. And my students picked up on that and wondered why all of a sudden there aren't declarative verbs here and everything is very soft in it's wording. That was provoking me, I had to find out why. So I've been reading extensively and the textbooks are written accurately. It is a lot of soft verbs. There has to be because there's a lot of stories of how it possibly could have happened, but there is no data to back it up such that we can say we have tested or we have produced such phenomenon.

Q. Is it fair to say that what caused you to begin to challenge evolutionary theory was your asking-- your being asked to develop a new curriculum?

A. Yes. If it had not been finding these chapters in these textbooks I probably wouldn't have been involved with evolution at all. In fact, some of my textbooks don't mention evolution but maybe in passing. My physiology textbook is pretty much devoid of using the term evolution. My biochemistry textbooks are scant. In fact, I go to the index to find every word that's mentioned so I can read exactly what is being said there. And the entries to the index in the biochemistry textbook is about three or four entries, five entries maybe in the entire textbook. When it comes to genetics then there's a whole column of entries in the index, so it's referred to often and talked about and described often.

So with developmental biology, for instance, there is fair amount-- a lot of evolution mentioned there. So I am challenged in certain classes and in other classes it's hardly mentioned.

Q. We asked you to look at the proposals in the Minority Report and in particular the evolution benchmark, that's benchmark three, grades 8 through 12. And I'd like to direct your attention to that benchmark, that hopefully will come up on the screen here in a minute. And let's begin with the beginning of that benchmark, indicator 1 A adds additional descriptive information about evolution.

By the way, I notice on the left side of the column it says biological evolution, descent with modification is a scientific explanation for the history of the diversification of organisms. What is the role of history in biological evolution and how does that affect the explanation?

A. That's rather interesting. The word history used in biology is a best guess at best. It tends to be used only if we are trying to determine how a function came about today. When we do, for instance, history of disease, if we do something in physiology with that regard, we will look back and use history to help us understand it in today's world.

What I'm finding with the evolution claim, however, is that the macroevolution history-- if we look back at that origin's history has little to bear on science today in terms of its actually practical use and what we're actually doing with it. And I'm realizing that that's probably why it's not being actually talked about out there in the marketplace of ideas. In the companies, in the universities it's not being used on a day-to-day basis in their research for most-- the vast majority of disciplines. The history is just that, it's a story that we have to make up because we don't know. It's not that we have a historical record to look at so easily, especially with origins. What we have is our best guess, which means it's out of us.

Q. Would you comment on indicator additional specificity 1 A, particularly the first sentence, "Biological evolution postulates an unpredictable and unguided natural process that has no discernible direction or goal." Is that a scientifically accurate description of biological evolution?

A. Yes, it is. That is exactly what it says in the textbook.

Q. The second sentence also, "It also assumes that life arose from an unguided natural process." Is that--

A. That's also in the textbooks, yes. Exactly that. That is not anything different than what I've been reading and teaching for the last decade.

Q. Is that information important to a student's understanding of biological evolution?

A. Well, absolutely. I think the definition of evolution cannot be minced or reduced. If that's what, in fact, the papers are publishing about, then that's what the textbooks have to reflect. And, in fact, they do. So if you're not teaching that exactly as it's-- as it's being proclaimed, well, then you're not teaching evolution. So, yes, I think you need to-- every one needs to understand exactly what evolution basis is.

And I think-- and I think perhaps in my own experience I've had to meet that challenge also in that again coming out of a Christian college I have sort of, you know, wondered what kind of trouble do I run into if I want to minimize-- if I feel I should be minimizing something, evolutionary theory, for instance, and will there be pressures put on me. And I was very concerned about that. What was very refreshing for me is that my college has virtually had no restraints on me in teaching biology. That's very refreshing. So I've been very open to talk about exactly what's in the textbook and-- but because of the students and the way they're provoking me I have to know my evolutionary science very well. And I've come up short on origins and I've come up short on methodological naturalism to get into macro evolution.

Q. What is methodological naturalism?

A. Well, sort of-- it's-- besides hard to say, it's actually quite straight forward in that nature has a method, so-- which is a little bit in conflict with-- if you will, with the wording of unguided process. So nature has a method, but it's an unguided process. So the word method and unguided have a tension there. So if you have an unguided process then that's your method. So it's saying that the nature, which has no discerning direction to it, will make a change in a gene sequence and change, in fact, one nucleotide. So, therefore, it's unguided. So that is the method that it is unguided. So that one change in that nucleotide will make that DNA produce a protein that is different. So that's the method of nature according to that. Whether or not that can work or not is the question.

Q. Does methodological naturalism essentially limit explanation to an unguided process?

A. I think it has to. Methodological naturalism then, by virtue of its name, states that nature is doing this. So that, in fact, it not only is unguided, it has to be unguided because we cannot find-- we cannot find an intelligent molecule, we cannot find an intelligent force that would connect these nucleotides up to teach other. There's nothing in any of the literature and there's nothing we've ever found that says a particular nucleotide would want to bind to any other particular nucleotide for the purpose of making a proper sequence that would be the proper sequence to make the proper protein. We don't have any forces that would know how to do that.

Q. Let me ask you this, going back to the first sentence in 1 A it says, "Biological evolution postulates an unpredictable and unguided natural process." Now, that is stated in the nature of a theory or a postulate and that being the case doing science, we should be able to challenge that postulate-- that change results from an unguided process. Is that correct? I mean, science should-- we should be able to challenge that?

A. Yeah, all things should be available for challenging. That has been part of my anger with science is that nothing is sacred is the norm for all other disciplines except evolution and all of a sudden it becomes the sacred cow.

I have had an occasional outburst in class by me when I'm lecturing when I have to tell students that by golly when I did my master's research thesis research and when I did my post doctoral research and when I did 15 years in companies with their research, everything-- everything is held up to scrutiny and skeptical analysis. Nothing is left untouched, nothing is taken for granted, nothing is taken on faith, everything must be proven. And you can make theories about what's unproven, but then you call them theories. And if they get proven and enough people can corroborate that, then you might be talking something other than a theory or better than a theory. But when you have open ended questions and you have nice stories about how that might happen, then you still don't call that theory, even though they're in a theory. Nobody else gets away with that. Peer review editors don't let you get away with that. In your conclusion you say and I speculate, you don't say this is the truth because I made this story up, but not in evolution.

Q. Let me ask you this, does methodological naturalism permit one to challenge that postulate that the process is unguided?

A. Well, that's why I get angry in class because it doesn't allow that. I want to challenge it, but my textbook says I cannot. So I have to go outside the textbook, so I find other papers that have-- that are, in fact, challenging that. I have found many papers that challenge the going norm that it is not challengeable. I found many papers. In fact, I have put together several talks in the twin cities just about that, pointing out what other people are saying about the data and how, in fact, it doesn't support gradualism or that it doesn't support abiotic to biotic in the soup. Or that the fossil record with it's Cambrian Explosion is not supporting a gradualistic Darwinian or neo-Darwinian concept.

One has to come up with a very fast mutation rate that is still good and we don't have any information that you could have a fast mutation rate and still be reasonable and not kill things. In fact, we don't have data to show that slow mutation rates give you something positive that you could actually develop with. And I have a lot on that as well.

Q. Doctor Simat, I'd like to direct your attention to indicator-- we're running out of time, so I'm going to go directly to indicator 6 C. And it relates to a statement that biological evolution is used as broad unifying theory or framework for biology and that natural selection of genetic drift, genomes, and the mechanisms of genetic change provide a context in which to ask research questions and help explain observed change in the populations. And then Doctor Harris and his colleagues have added, quote, "However, reverse engineering and undirected thinking are used to understand the function of biosystems and information." My question is, is that-- is that a valid and accurate statement is-- are biochemists and people in operational science using that kind of thinking and is that really inconsistent with the methodological naturalist?


A. Well, we have a-- we had a piece of paper. We'll wing it. All right. Just recently-- just recently I was reading a very nice piece on evolution of the immune system and-- among other systems and the blood system. And they do some very nice science here in terms of making a very science-type of story. I want to call it scientific, but it is reverse engineering. We look at-- to fill the gap of how something very complex could have come from nothing then we look at what we have and we look at what it would take to start with and then you just work backwards. So if something is more complex now you make it a little less complex, a little less, a little less, a little less until you come back to rudimentary molecules and talk about how all those got together and ended up with this very complex process. It's a very interesting story, but it is in fact a historical story, not one of data. It is something that we would say would have had to have happened in time over-- and then, of course, whatever period of time for that to have occurred.

That is fraught with problems because this-- first of all, there's no data for that. Second of all, the story does not relate to the entire process of the organism. As a biochemist I realize that that are so many patterns and so many lines of biochemistry and they all interrelate.


A. And they all interrelate and, in fact, depend on each other. So to talk about how just one gets through the system and it doesn't affect the rest of them is very naive.

Q. (BY MR. CALVERT) One final question. Do you believe that changes in three are appropriate-- benchmark three are appropriate?

A. Benchmark?

Q. The benchmark we've been talking about. Standard three, benchmark three. And this deals with the changes in the Minority Report offered with respect to the section on biological evolution. Do you have any general comment on those changes, are they appropriate, inappropriate?

A. Well, I think they're very appropriate in this regard. My students coming out of a Christian college are now armed with all of evolution. Exactly what it teaches and exactly what it's downfalls are or its shortcomings. They know what it can show and they know what it can't show. I would say that they're probably better armed than their counterparts who are going to the University of Minnesota who are not shown what, in fact, it can show or cannot show. So who has more knowledge and who has more accurate knowledge, those who know what a theory can do and what it can't or those who are just told the party line.

Q. Thank you so much for your testimony.

MR. CALVERT: Mr. Irigonegaray, you can commence your questions.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray, you have 16 minutes.



Q. Sir, the first question I'd like to ask you is, do you accept the evolutionary theory of common descent of humans from prehominids?

A. From the data that I've been following it's probably not true.

Q. I'd like to now specifically address the issues in the standards that you have discussed. Is there anywhere that you have even been able to find in the standards an indication to teachers and their students that they are not allowed to discuss evolution in every aspect, including whatever shortcomings may be involved in evolution today?

A. I believe that the standard is setting up this state to fail at biology.

Q. That wasn't my question.

A. I know it wasn't.

Q. Then please answer the question. Is there anything in the standards that would preclude a teacher and his or her students from discussing fully evolution, including whatever short comings that students may question?

A. I don't believe that the standard, as it's written, does not preclude that.

Q. Is there in the standards, anywhere at all that you have been able to ascertain, the use of the word "unguided"?

A. It is in the definition of evolution and it's in the definition of--

Q. Where in the definition of evolution in the standards do you find that?

A. The standard as it-- excuse me, let me start this way, the standard does not have to mention that.

Q. So please answer my question. My question was specifically to you, where in the standards is the word "unguided" found?

A. It is found implicit in the definition of evolution.

Q. I'm not talking about implicitly. Where is the word "unguided" found?

A. It is not in the standard and it doesn't have to be.

Q. If it doesn't have to be and if it's not in the standard, isn't it a fact that the only reason it is suggested in the comments for the minority is to have a strong man argument?

A. Not at all.

Q. Not at all. You have made the claim from the floor that methodological naturalism entails that nature is unguided. What would you say to the millions of people, including many scientists, who believe that God works through the natural process?

A. Many of those people believe that it is guided through the natural process. Some of them believe that it is unguided through the natural process.

Q. Sir, you made the broad statement that methodological naturalism entails that nature is unguided, that's what you said.

A. That's its definition. I didn't say that as if I was making it up.

Q. But that definition does not mean, does it, that there are not many, many thousands of scientists who believe that that is precisely how God works?

A. I don't know that.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I have nothing further.


Q. I'm sorry, pronounce your name. Is it Doctor Simat?

A. That's close enough.

Q. How do you say it?

A. Simat.

Q. Welcome to Kansas. It's a beautiful state. Maybe you'll get an opportunity to see some more of it. When you are testing your students, how do you handle this issue?

A. Well, they have to know all of the evolutionary theory and all of its tenets. Then I also ask them on all the additional information that I had brought forth into class that I cannot find in my textbook. So they have to know it all.

Q. Okay. So in the State of Kansas in elementary and secondary education we assess and the assessments are built around the standards, so what would be your advice to us as the Board who has the constitutional authority to provide general oversight, what should we do to make sure that students are taught evolution and its criticisms and they are assessed on both items knowing that what's in the standards is what gets taught and is what gets tested?

A. Here's how it works at Northwestern College, I do not work in the education department, I work in the biology department. However, our education department has a science methods class for K through 12. I come in for two lectures and I teach. After they-- excuse me, after they have taught them the evolutionary tenets I come in and give the rest of the data of what, in fact, is out there, but not in the textbook of what is-- what is supportable and what is not supportable. So we do that with-- actually it's four lectures, so we add that to their curriculum. And I come in from the biology department because I have the information and the person who does the science methods cannot keep up with it. Although she's very knowledgeable. So we add that in there as compliment to that after they learn all the tenets of evolution and then they are tested on knowing exactly what evolution can and cannot do in terms of true data and true conclusions.

Q. So true data, true conclusions, if we want quality education in Kansas we should also teach evolution and its criticisms, wouldn't you agree? Is that what you do at your school?

A. Well, for macroevolution and origins, if you're going to teach just from the textbook and those tenets of what it should be able to do, then you're not actually teaching the story-- the entire story of evolution, you're teaching a segment of it.

Q. Okay. Thank you.


Q. Doctor Simat, how would you describe the ability of the Majority Draft, as well as the Minority Report to teach the students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religion and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science?

A. That was a long question.

Q. How would you describe the ability of each one of those, the Majority Report and the Minority Report, with reference to teaching the student to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science?

A. Well, the modified program, modified document is going to go much further than the original with regard to expecting students to know exactly what science is. What I really detest is dumming down on science. And so I think what the standard is saying is that you can, in fact, talk about all the data they're going to learn about and that's what those standards are going to show them that you can learn about exactly how far science can go in producing data and making conclusions and where you must actually say now I'm emerging on a theory or a story that I think is probably true. But at least it becomes honest science when, in fact, you can differentiate the difference between data dependent conclusions and data independent conclusions. And I think that's what the standards have to show. That you can show the difference between those two things. This is data dependent conclusions and these are data above the data or data independent conclusions.

Q. Okay.

A. So I think the standards can do that if you allow them to.

Q. Okay. Thank you very much.



Q. Oh, do we have some time. Our former presenter, Doctor Wells, and now I hear maybe you saying that in our textbooks we're not always getting a thorough coverage of evolution. We may be getting a methodological naturalistic presentation. Okay. So maybe this is one reason why we do need these proposals, these minority proposals in our standards to assure that our teachers are realizing the textbook does not always cover the material to the best to show the short comings. Is that what--

A. I think what Doctor Wells showed earlier on his map is an indicator that-- with his comments is an indicator that there's a sweep across this country that would like to teach methods of how to investigate and that's really the heart of science. What I really like to do is get out of the classroom then and apply all those classroom principles to actually how do we do methodology, how do we do science research and follow that with fidelity and that's the issue. So-- and I think the standards have to reflect that we need to teach how we do science very well and then, therefore, we'd be able to see that we can make conclusions or we can start making something that becomes theoretical. And it's okay to have those theories.


A. I don't think we should take any of that, but we better claim what we can claim and tell what is, in fact, beyond the data.

Q. And then also from your introduction I understand that you had a perfectly good career in biotechnology and you really were not aware of evolution as the way it was taught in the textbooks, supposedly, and so that this lack of or de-emphasizing evolution is not going to ruin a student's chance of getting in the biotechnology industry?

A. No, it doesn't stop-- although literally we are real close to 100 percent placement of our students into medicine technology, graduate schools, almost everybody is going into what they want to do. Evolution is not even asked about unless, of course, you were going into evolutionary science at a university, they want to know do you-- where you stand with that. If you're going to become-- looking to work in their department perhaps.


Q. Doctor Simat, I have been a proponent and stated earlier and will state again, like your comment on-- of imperical science being defined by observable, measurable, testable, repeatable, falsifiable and would you comment on that?

A. Well, imperialism is the heart of science and once you start leaving imperialism it's okay, but you need to say it. You need to know the difference what is imperical and supportable and what has, in fact, become more historic. I'm amazed at how well the reverse engineer stories look. They look very good and they're very compelling of how they're engineered, but they are, in fact, engineered. And we don't have data especially when it comes to historical science. That's total engineering. We have fun with the-- I actually brought photocopies of my textbook on general biology where they show the primordial soup. And I was very entertained, amused. And it's very interesting, but there are so many--


A. Thank you. There are so many tenets that have to be perfect for that to happen. And so it's written that way that all of these things would have to have fallen in place. It's wonderful. It makes very nice reading. But, of course, it's historical science and it doesn't have any data.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Thank you, doctor Simat. We're going to take a 20-minute break. It is now 3:10, we're going to resume promptly at 3:30.

(THEREUPON, a short recess was had).

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Sorry for the delay. We're going to get started again right now. Mr. Calvert.

MR. CALVERT: Yes. Doctor Abrams, members of the committee, as our next witness we would like to call Giuseppe Sermonti. Giuseppe, would you please come forward.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Just tell him to wait a second, we're having technical difficulties here.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Calvert, if you'd hold on just a second we're having some technical--

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: We're ready.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: We're ready now.


(THEREUPON, the presentation of Giuseppe Sermonti was so heavily accented in Italian that this reporter could not understand what he was saying and so his presentation is not transcribed herewith).

MR. CALVERT: Our next and last witness for the day is Doctor Ralph Seelke. Ralph.

RALPH SEELKE, called as a witness on behalf of the Minority and testified as follows:


Q. Doctor Abrams, members of the committee, I'd like to introduce you to Doctor Ralph Seelke Doctor Seelke, would you please introduce yourself and provide a brief background of your qualifications to testify today about the Minority Report?

A. Thank you. Again, my name is Ralph Seelke, I'm a graduate of Clemson University with my bachelor degree. My Ph.D. is in microbiology from the University of Minnesota. Actually my work was at the Mayo Clinic, however. I then did post doctoral training, I went from bacteria to chickens at the Mayo Clinic.

For the last 16 years I've been an associate professor or professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, so I think the cheese head that was referred to. Although I live in Minnesota, so-- but I have to be very guarded on my sport for the Packers and Vikings. It can be a serious issue.

My primary duties, I'm primarily an instructor. My primary duties involve teaching courses of cellular, molecular, microbiology, genetics, immunology, and cell biology are primarily what I teach. I've been following the conversation in the U.S. about the teaching of evolution for a number of years and that resulted in actually an active research interest in evolution. That has-- since I was trained as an experimental biologist when my interest was piqued by things like Darwin's Black Box, I immediately turned to experimentation. And my interest has been in determining by experimental methods the capabilities or limitations of the evolution process. And because of that interest I do try to stay informed about the research literature and experiments in literature. So I'm primarily here to speak about the use of micro evolution to produce inferences on macro evolution.

Q. So how does that work, I mean tell us a little bit more about your experimental work?

A. Oh, I'd love to take more time. Basically what experimental evolution does is we use experimentation to ask very specific questions about evolution. And this comes from the fact that primarily in bacteria there are numerous examples of evolution. And you can actually show my little power point, if we can do that. But I actually had a table of some of the things-- that's not it. There's probably a dozen or so very well documented cases of evolution in bacteria. And typically those cases involve a gain of function where you're able to make a new-- able to use a food source that a micro in the past was not able to use. And so you can do real experiments with evolution. In a day you can produce a trillion organisms. So you can ask questions-- now, a trillion organisms is a lot of organisms. When you talk about human populations, we're talking orders of magnitude more than the number of people who have ever lived on this planet, you know, since the beginning, wherever you want to determine that.

So you can-- you can ask bacteria to do very, very specific things and find out can they do it or can they not do it. So experimental evolution-- and you can also-- you can model time. One of my heroes is Richard Linskey at Michigan State. And Richard Linskey has been evolving bacteria for 35,000 generations. He does this-- it's actually his technicians do this, but he takes two teaspoons of bacteria and he grows them in a medium that's low on glucose. And then after they've grown he takes a hundredth of that population and puts it in a new tube. He gets 6.64 generations every day. He's been doing this for 15 years. You do the math, with a little work you can model trillions of organisms and literally tens of thousands of generations. 35,000 generations puts you in the range of what human evolution-- what is supposed to have happened in human evolution. So experimental evolution allows you to ask real questions about what evolution can do and-- I have it on a CD.

Q. Do you have it on a CD?

A. It's over in the-- it was-- basically what I had is a chart of successful and unsuccessful evolution experiments that happened. And by doing this there's a number that are successful, there are a number that are unsuccessful.

Now, I'm rather proud that of that chart of unsuccessful evolution. It is not easy to find. People don't tend to flaunt their failures. But I have been able to produce a chart of eight or ten cases of evolution where people looked very hard for evolution to take place and it didn't happen. And so this is the sort of thing that can be readily done in this. So, yes, we can-- so that-- the chart was just-- just showed some examples of successful evolution and examples of unsuccessful evolution.

Q. Can you describe to me a-- in more detail a campaign of unsuccessful evolution?

A. Well, one of the things I'm doing now is one of the-- one of my other heroes is Michael Behe. And Behe said that if you have multiple independent events that have to take place you will simply not be able to observe evolution.

And so at this-- last year at this time I was a visiting scholar at Stanford University and I basically built some molecules. I made some changes in a gene and I put in one mutation, two mutations, three mutations, and four mutations all in different types of that gene. All mutations inactuate the gene. And so if this-- and then-- and now I'm in the process-- I only have ten-- I only have ten billion cells that I'm looking at which is whoosy in this field. I wouldn't publish this until I had probably 10 to 100 trillion, but-- so then I can take-- I can take these mutants that I know exactly what they need to do to evolve and I can ask them to evolve and put them in a medium where if they do evolve I would know overnight. Because the selective advantage of being able to make, in this case, the amino acid triptyline is so enormous that I would find that out overnight if that happens.

And so I can ask, what happens when you need two mutations and only get an advantage when you have both. At this point the answer is nothing. And that is actually supported by the literature. What's different about this is I am specifically asking these questions. Most cases people-- these are things that people discover are kind of on the side. You know, you don't do experiments to test the limits of evolution and particularly my work is designed to actually test that.

Q. How many would you say are working in the area that you're working in right now?

A. There are a few people. It's-- it's sort of boring research because you-- until things evolve. We get really excited when things do happen, but it's not-- yeah, they're not-- I'm probably a little fish in a little pond at this point.

Q. Well, my understanding-- I think you mentioned there was a scientist that's been running an experiment now for 30 years?

A. Well, he's been 35,000 generations. To my knowledge he began this in the late '80s so about 15 years. So, yeah, that's Richard Linskey at Michigan State.

Q. And has he been able to demonstrate the development of new functions where you have to have two steps?

A. One of the problems was he didn't ask a very interesting question. He-- his micros are evolving in a very low glucose. They're better at it. Most of what they got better at that happened in 2,000 generations. So he's been watching very, very slow advances since that. 2,000 generations is your first year. So he's been looking at very, very slow advances since then.

Q. We have your power point.

A. Oh, good. Oh, wrong one, wrong one. I'm sorry. That's-- you know, that's a lot longer. It was testimony.

Q. Let's see.

A. It's okay. There's one good picture, other than that it's-- you can just close it out.

Q. Just close this?

A. Close it out, yeah.

Q. Okay.

A. So the point is--

Q. Oh, here we go.

A. It's power point testimony of Ralph Seelke. Yeah, there it is.

Q. This one right here?

A. Yeah, there it is. This is not really-- it's not really all that it's cracked up to be. Same one. Just close it out. There's one-- that would be it, that's it. So then-- keep going.

So these are some examples of where evolution has worked. You have-- for instance, if you have-- you can put ten million bacteria that are able to use the sugar alcohol xylitol, some of them will be able to produce an ability to grow on xylitol. The last example is one that has been batted around in the discussions on Intelligent Design. There is an evolved beta galactic slides that actually is both as an example of evolution and an example of when you ask it to do two things failure happens.

Barry Hall made a name for himself with evolved beta galactic sideas. Put that next slide up. Lactose use. This is system where if you cut out the original enzyme for lactose use there is an enzyme hiding in e-coli that laws it to use lactose. However, you will never find this ever unless you cheat. And the way you cheat is by allowing lactose to come in. And if you cheat, if you artificially stimulate that cell to allow it to have lactose come in, you will get mutations. But if you're asking it to do two things at once, you will never see that. And so it's an example of both evolution and inaction-- and inaction of evolution.

Q. What is-- can you put in perspective the conclusion that evolution can take one step-- in one step will produce new functions, but your work is suggesting that it cannot take two steps, what is the significance of that?

A. Well, the significance of that is simply all over the place there are all sorts of things that don't get any advantage to the organism until both things happen. Simple matter of using a sugar, to use a sugar you have to do two things. You have to bring it in and you have to use it. If you can bring in a sugar and you can't use it, you are not helped. If you can use the sugar, but you can't bring it in, you're still starving. And Michael Behe has made the flagellum, a scientific example of this. Actually the flagella is worse than what Behe says. Because if you're able to move and you don't know where you're going, you don't have an advantage either. In the entire other symptom that allows a bacteria to tell where it's going that-- it's got sensors hooked up to the motor that allow it to figure out where it's going and so it's worse than what Behe has made out to be with the bacteria for the flagellum. But there are large-- you know, all over the place there are systems where nothing happens unless you have multiple events taking place. And to my knowledge that is the state of experimental evolution. So when you are saying you're producing new things by macro evolution, it's a leap and an enormous leap. You have not shown that. And as a matter of fact, the evidence is to the contrary.

Q. At that point what I'd like to do is how does what you're talking about relate to the proposed changes in the Minority Report? And I'm putting up on the screen right now a reference to the proposed change and indicator that have students understanding the difference between micro and macroevolution. And I guess I would ask you whether this suggestion, additional specificity under paragraph D, is appropriate and is it appropriate to make a distinction between micro and macro?

A. Sure. I would obviously agree that-- I think microevolution is interesting. I think it's-- people should understand it. How you can do cool stuff evolving bacteria. But they should understand the large difference between being able to do that and being able to produce new body forms for the other-- even the other rather modest steps that would be needed in the macroevolution scenario.

Q. Well, then the work you're talking about, the biological experiment, involved bacteria?

A. Right.

Q. And is that actually you're working in a micro evolutionary paradigm?

A. Right.

Q. So you're actually not testing the macro evolution?

A. It's hard to test. But in theory I am asking if macroevolution works by microevolutionary steps. If macroevolution is simply the extension, then knowing vigorously what micro evolution can do will tell us what macro evolution can do. And right now two steps seem to be required.

Q. Since Michael Behe's publication of his work, "Darwin's Black Box" which discusses the theory in great complexity and there's been a lot of scientific debate over his concept, are you familiar with that?

A. Yes, I am.

Q. And what would you say the current status is, has his idea been unrefuted, is it still being debated, what is the status?

A. Well, I think it's-- unfortunately not as many people have gone to a lab as I would have liked them to have gone to the lab for this sort of work. I think-- and that was one of my frustrations.

Behe and Ken Miller would get on public radio and Behe would say it can't evolve and Ken Miller would say it can to and Behe would say it cannot and Miller would say can to. And I'd think both of you guys go to a lab and start doing some work. And so that sort of inspired me to do this.

Now, Linskey has essentially failed to produce a lot of bacteria and he went to digital organisms. And he has shown that in digital organisms, as long as each step is selected, you can get some very interesting things. But, yeah, he's gone to digital organisms, which are basically computer models of micro organisms and has shown that as long as each step is advantageous you can do things, so-- which I think we--

Q. Is it fair then to say that while micro evolution has been observed in the laboratory macroevolution has not and it's simply inferred?

A. Yes, I would say that's an accurate statement.

Q. And the inference is drawn from what?

A. Well, the inference is-- I think you start with the assumption that nature is all there is and this is all we have to work with and, therefore, it-- we're here and there's nothing else that could have gotten us here, so, therefore, it must have worked even though it doesn't look like it could work.

Q. But you said you were starting with an assumption?

A. Yeah, you start with that assumption. And, you know, if you start with the assumption, which is what methodological naturalism does, you start with the assumption that nature is all there is, you will produce an explanation that comes out of nature. And if it's a bad explanation, go back to your assumption. You won't work beyond that assumption.

Q. This particular indicator, the second sentence, says, "These kinds of macroevolution explanations generally are not based on observations and often reflect historical narratives and based on inferences from indirect or circumstantial evidence." Is that a scientifically valid statement?

A. I think that's often true the observations are more narrative. Narrative as in speculation.

Q. And I think you have answered this question, can macroevolution explanation such as the formation of new body plans be directly observed either in or out of the lab?

A. Those are harder experiments to do. Now, in terms of body plans in the field of developmental biology there is real effort to produce things. There are some very interesting mutations that have occurred. I don't-- I would not say entirely new body plans, but some very interesting changes have been made. One of my favorite is there are fruit flies with legs growing out of their heads and they're really cool, but that's not a real-- you know, doesn't help. There are also--

Q. So you would say that in a sense is macro evolution, but it is an evolutionary change that would kill an organism?

A. But these actually lived, but--

Q. Oh.

A. But they are not very good-- they're not very good flies. So that-- now, that's not a new body plan, that's a-- probably the closest has been some genetists have been able to add a set of wings to fruit flies. Unfortunately, that second set doesn't work. So that's as close-- that's changes to the basic body plan, I would not call that-- a new body plan would be going from a worm to an insect.

Q. The second set of wings, does that add to the function of the fly or reduce its function?

A. No. Having a set of wings that doesn't work is not particularly a good thing to do to a fly.

Q. Going to-- I have on the screen here indicator 1 A. Is that a scientifically valid addition to the description of biological evolution, biological evolution postulates an unpredicted and unguided natural process that has no discernible direction or goal?

A. Yes, I think that's a very accurate statement of evolution as it's typically-- and it has to be because we're talking natural sources, natural processes, and can't have a guide.

Q. And then the second sentence, it also assumes that life arose from an unguided natural process?

A. Right.

Q. Okay. I'd like to move to the indicator 4-- 6-- indicator 6, subparagraph C of the additional specificity where we're talking about natural selection, genetics draft genomes and mechanisms of genetic change provide a context in which to ask research questions and help explain observed changes in populations. However, reverse engineering and indirected thinking are used to understand the function of bio systems and information. Is that an appropriate addition and could you comment on that?

A. Yes, I think that's-- actually as someone who's-- who loves experimental science and who thinks that teaching is-- you can get kids excited about things. I think this is actually a very useful-- I don't like this word, but I'll use it, pedagogical tool, in the sense that if you tell students they can understand the things by simply asking, well, if you were a bacteria, what would you do. And it turns out the answers that they come up with are reasonable and rational and right. That the micro actually-- well, one person says we're not intelligent, but they do the intelligent thing. If I want to understand the system-- as a matter of fact when I teach my students how bacteria use lactose I tell them exactly that. What would you do if you were a bacteria? Well, if you've got lots of other sugars around and lactose is hard to use, I'd use that first. Well, that's exactly what the bacteria does. If you have a bunch of genes that are needed to make lactose when are you going to turn those on? Well, let's turn them on when the glucose runs out. Good idea. That's exactly what the bacteria does. And so rational-- teaching, you know, from a rational standpoint that-- and, again, you don't have to claim that they're rational or design, you simply-- you can quote Dockins if you want to, that things simply appear designed. But as a teaching methodology this provides a very good handle for understanding systems.

Q. There is another indicator-- let me-- before you pass that, you understand what methodological naturalism is?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you say that in this one indicator where you're asking the student to look at the bacteria-- that if you were the bacteria how would you do that, that's sort of a logical or design directed, is it fair to say that in that kind of methodology you're actually using methodological design rather than methodological naturalism?

A. That's probably a good description. And you can certainly simply say that this works. It works as a way of understanding. If you're-- if you're looking at the structure of a set of genes, well, if gene A-- genes A, B, and C are all involved in the same process, where-- if you find out where gene A is, where do you think gene B. Well, if you were the bacteria where would you put gene B? Well, how about right next to gene A and it turns out that you're generally right. So that-- and that approach, that's what scientists do. Whether they acknowledge it or not, they look at this and they say how would I do this if I were the micro. And the creative ones figure it out, do the experiments to test that and they sort through the possible answers and that's generally how science advances.

Q. I have on the screen an indicator that would have students understand that the sequence of the nucleotide process within genes is not dictated by any amount of chemical or physical law. Is that a scientifically accurate and valid statement?

A. Yes, that's an accurate statement. And it's-- it has to be accurate. As a matter of fact for years one of the reasons the discovery of DNA and the genetic material was a late discovery historically was because we thought DNA was boring. We thought it had a very repeated structure, that it was holding proteins together because proteins were interesting and, therefore, they had to be the genetic material. And because we thought that, because we thought it was repeated and boring, therefore, it could have no information. If it weren't-- if there was a law that says R has to be next to T and T had to be next to C and C had to be next to G then you would have no information. So in order to be an informational molecule you can't have the order dictated by law.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: That's two minutes.

Q. (BY MR. CALVERT) And that brings up another question is that indicator one of standard seven, benchmark three, this is a description of scientific knowledge. And the Majority Report would have scientific knowledge describe and explain the physical world in terms of matter, energy, and the forces. Whereas the Minority proposes that we simply say scientific knowledge describes and explains the natural world. Which in your view is the better statement?

A. Well, I think there's the glaring admission-- omission, excuse me, in the definition of as it is is information and the other is that I think it would--

Q. You mean biological information?

A. Biological information, exactly.

Q. And could you be a little bit more specific about what you mean by that?

A. It's the code. It's the DNA. It's the sequences.

Q. The messages?

A. The message. The message is what matter, energy, even forces can explain.

Q. And so since you cannot reduce science-- if you did reduce science to just a physical world, then you would omit the investigation of biological information?

A. Yes, I think that's-- that's one of the things. Or your understanding would be quite constrained. But it has to be approached as information.

Q. Finally, we have about ten seconds, sequence of nucleotide bases within-- oh, we already talked about that. I think that's about it. Doctor Seelke, do you have any general comment on the proposed changes that are contained in the Minority Report?

A. I think you'll have-- you'll have a group of students who will be much more aware. They'll be-- they'll have a better understanding of evolution. They will not be-- they will not accept it unthinking. Those who accept it will have accepted it in the light of the criticisms, so they will be stronger because of that. Those who doubt it will know why they doubt it, rather than simply having been told to doubt it. And I think you'll-- now, this is a subject where being sure may not be the best thing in the world. You may want people who don't know the answer because that may be the better place. You know, not-- if you don't know something and you know you don't know something, you're better off than if you don't know it and you think you know it. So I think you'll have a better educated population.

Q. Thank you so much for your testimony.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray, 15 minutes.

THE WITNESS: Yes, I do believe 4.5 billion years.

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I'm glad to hear that. We have no questions for you.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: No questions?


MS. MARTIN: This is-- this was fascinating again and you lost me quite a ways back, but I tried to stay with you. And, you know, the idea that you could do this with bacteria is just fascinating to me. And I applaud your efforts. Even though you say there are not very many of you, you're a minority working in this field, but we think you're a true scientist and we really appreciate all the things you're trying to do to keep science-- you know, doing the right thing and letting children learn what true scientists do and I appreciate it.

THE WITNESS: Thank you.


Q. Well, I welcome you also, Doctor Seelke. Your closing comment gave me some confidence that I might try to attempt to converse with you. When you said that as long as, something like, if, you know, you don't know then you're in a good place, so I don't know a whole lot about this subject. I find it fascinating and I really appreciate you taking the time to come and speak with us and help us to understand.

Now-- so let me see if I have this right. Basically you use microevolution trying to create macroevolution or is it backwards?

A. Well, no, I think that's accurate. I think if I were to-- if I could consistently show that multiple-- that there's-- that you can consistently with bacteria if you need two or three or four events and you can get them to happen, I would be-- I wouldn't be rich, but I might be famous, because that would-- that would throw ID out the window. And I think-- and if that experiment were to work it would throw ID out the window.

And just to point out the importance of this, Barry Hall in 1991 thought he showed that bacteria could do two mutations, that they-- he had a system very similar to mine where nothing happened in theory until two things happened. Okay. And he thought he had a-- he thought he was able to observe that. That was in 1991. All right. He got a paper and prestige from the National Academy of Science. That's a very prestigious journal. And so the point was, you know, you could-- you know, I don't think it made the front page news, but it made-- you know, it made a prestigious journal.

In 1998 some one named Clarence thought he found the mechanism where bacteria-- if a mutation was advantageous that it would happen more often. So instead of being random, it was something that would happen more often. He also made big news in the scientific circuit. So the point is that this is not-- people may not want to invest their careers in it, but they find it interesting. And one of my-- I think one of the things that is helpful and this is why being skeptical of evolution, and this is where an attraction to design comes in, is the evolutionists don't ask these questions because if you know that-- you know, I ask what evolution can really do, you don't ask bacteria to evolve because you know the answer right away. And so it's only when you step out of that paradigm and you say, well, maybe it doesn't have all the answers that you even ask the question. And so that's why I think-- I think this skepticism of evolution is good for science. It needs-- evolution needs an opposing theory because it will just sit on its haunches and spin "just so" stories that everybody is happy with. And so that's why if you have someone from the outside saying it ain't necessarily so and, you know, let's do some experiments where other people are happy just with "just so" stories, you are helping science.

Q. When you have a fruit fly that grows a second pair of wings that don't work, why is that not a mutation or a change, why would one argue that's evolution?

A. Yeah, it's a mutation. Certainly it's a mutation and you could call it evolution. You know, it's a change with time. That was actually-- that one-- if I remember correctly and I-- that actually two, three steps and that was a highly engineered-- that was a highly engineered change. I think the developmental biologists wanted to see if they could do it.

Q. I'll rest my curiosity. Thank you.


Q. Doctor Seelke, earlier today we heard that evolution is a rather slippery word, therefore, when you're describing evolution and bacteria what is happening, what-- would you be more specific about that word?

A. Well, I would-- what I'm doing is microevolution. But, again, if you make the assumption that macroevolution occurred by what we can see in microevolution, what I'm trying to do is vigorously push what we know micro evolution can do. And, again, if we can-- if we can push that, that is how a plausible theory of macroevolution would come about.

And what I see is unfortunately most people are just satisfied with the stories that they don't want to push microevolution to find out what it could do. You know, they're satisfied with saying, you know, we take this it happened several million years by the same thing and out comes a macroevolution or a change. And so I am-- I would say I'm doing microevolution with an attempt to understand what it can do, which has implications towards macroevolution.


Q. (BY CHAIRMAN ABRAMS) Are you saying that the evolution in the bacteria that you are doing and the other experiments that you have been describing are actually adding genetic material?

A. What I would do-- now, the ones that I am doing, you would be-- you would be-- yes, you would-- that is a-- there is a small edition-- right, there's an addition of capabilities that occurs. Now, if I-- for instance, if I take my gene and I have one mistake in it and by random processes that one mistake can be fixed. And I think you would say that, yes, that cell is better and it has gained a little bit of information. It is-- it hasn't-- this is a small gain that produces a very large change. The gene that I'm looking at has 268 amino acids, 267 of them are right. Okay. There's one mistake. There's one base change causing one amino acid change and the thing is broke. And so, yeah, I'm making one change. Has that cell gained information? It would appear, yes, that it has gained information. Not a lot of information.

Q. I would-- where I'm going with that is that can bacteria become resistant to antibiotic? I have been under the impression by reading and involvement with it, that it is not necessarily an added amount of genetic material, but is actually a dysfunction that allows those bacteria to become resistant and therefore multiply and then-- but it is not an actual added genetic material?

A. It's not a net adding, but it's-- it would be-- how can I compare it? It's like you have a word and it's misspelled and you fix the word. Have you added information by fixing the word, you still have seven or eight letters.


A. So it's-- it's-- I think this may be semantics.

Q. Time is up. There is others, but I thank you for your time.

A. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: We will convene at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Thank you for coming.


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