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Jonathan Wells Then
I am no stranger to controversy. As an undergraduate geology major in the early 1960s, I watched the controversy over continental drift and read Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I eventually dropped out of school and drove a taxicab in New York City until receiving my draft notice in 1964. After spending two years in the U. S. Army, I transferred to the University of California at Berkeley. By then I was a critic of the Vietnam War, and when the Army called me back as a reservist in 1967 I refused. I was arrested by military police, court-martialed, and sent to Leavenworth. All together, I spent a year and half in prison.

After my release in 1969 I returned to Berkeley, where leftists were rioting over a piece of University-owned land they called "People's Park." One day I watched as radicals threw bottles over the heads of a peaceful crowd of students at policemen standing on the other side, to provoke the latter into attacking the former; then they ran away. This was one of many experiences that led to my complete disillusionment with the Left.

When I graduated from Berkeley in 1970, I literally headed for the hills. I bought a little land in the mountains of Northern California and built a small cabin and planted a large vegetable garden. Convinced by the wonders around me that the world was designed, I began to pray and read the Bible. I subsequently met members of the Unification Church and its founder, Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon. Although the group was quite controversial, I was impressed by it and joined. As a student at Unification Theological Seminary north of New York City, I became interested in yet another controversy -- the one over Darwinian evolution -- and I spent all my spare time reading books and journals at the Columbia University biology library. At the time, I had no objection to universal common ancestry, but I learned that the evidence did not support the Darwinian claim that unguided natural processes can account for all features of living things.

Upon graduating from the Seminary in 1978 I was awarded a Unification Church scholarship to earn a Ph.D. in theology at Yale University. My doctoral research, which focused on the 19th century Darwinian controversies, convinced me that the heart of the theological conflict was Darwinism's denial of design. After finishing my Yale Ph.D. I worked for several years directing an ecumenical organization in New York. My heart was still in the Darwinian controversies, though, and in 1988 I resigned my position to re-enter graduate school -- this time in biology.

In the fall of 1989 I entered the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. While there I learned that the scientific evidence provided even less support for Darwinism -- including the doctrine of universal common ancestry -- than I had previously thought. After I finished my Berkeley Ph.D. in 1994, someone asked me to write something for Unification Church members explaining why I had returned to graduate school for a second doctorate. (Years later, Darwinists started quoting selectively from this essay -- which had been posted on the Internet -- to make it sound as though my sole motivation for criticizing Darwinism was religious, though anyone who reads the entire essay can see that this is not true. [1])

From 1994 to 1998, I worked as a hospital laboratory supervisor in Northern California while doing post-doctoral research at Berkeley. Then I moved with my family to Seattle to become a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute -- now the center of the worldwide controversy over intelligent design. [2]

Bio Notes

[1] Jonathan Wells, "Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D.," Unification Sermons and Talks (1994).

[2] On my involvement in three different controversies -- the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Unification Church, and the intelligent design movement -- see The New York Times:
Wallace Turner, "Reservist Jailed for Not Reporting," The New York Times (April 28, 1968), p. 73.
Berkeley Rice, "The Pull of Sun Moon," The New York Times Magazine (May 30, 1976), pp. 8-9.
Francis X. Clines, "Ohio Board Hears Debate on an Alternative to Darwinism," The New York Times (March 12, 2002), p. A16.

© 2006 Discovery Institute