Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | November 13, 2019

Phillip Johnson Put Darwin on Trial

(4 Minute Read plus video)

Phillip Johnson
Author of the book
Darwin on Trial

The remarkable Phillip E. Johnson (1940-2019) died earlier this month on November 2. He was a UC Berkeley law professor and one of the founders of the Intelligent Design movement. He looked at the evidence for evolution from a lawyer’s perspective — identifying assumptions, analyzing arguments, evaluating evidence, and seeking proof.

Johnson possessed a towering intellect. He has been called “our age’s clearest thinker on evolution” and the “principal lay critic of Darwinism.” At one time he clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren after having previously clerked for California Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Traynor. Later he held an endowed chair in law at the University of California Berkeley where he taught for 30 years. Harvard awarded his BA in English in 1961, and in 1965 he graduated at the top of his law school class at the University of Chicago.

Johnson authored many books opposing evolutionism including
Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law, and Education,
Defeating Darwinism By Opening Minds, and
Objections Sustained: Subversive Essays on Evolution, Law, and Culture.
But Johnson is most famous for his 1991 book Darwin on Trial. This book is a devastating critique of Darwinism that exposes the lack of evidence and the Swiss-cheese logic patching the theory together. It also reveals Darwinism as a philosophical belief system, not a scientific theory.

Johnson focused on this fundamental issue: Is life the result of random natural processes or the result of purpose and design? Johnson’s spotlight on this issue in his books transformed the debate about origins.

In Darwin on Trial Johnson raised embarrassing questions like these:
– How do we know that evolutionism’s essential massive numbers of hypothetical “transitional” life forms ever existed given the lack of evidence for them in the fossil record?
– How do we know that natural selection can create complex organs and organisms when we know from genetics that random mutations degrade organisms rather than improving their structures and systems?
– How do we know that living cells arose from a simple chemical soup if it hasn’t yet been shown that it is even possible?

Johnson disputed evolutionists’ claims that random natural processes were sufficient to create all the world’s dazzling diversity of life simply from a primordial chemical soup. He argued that the complexity of nature could only be explained by an Intelligent Creator.

Just as a painting is evidence of a painter, a building is evidence of a builder, and an invention is evidence of an inventor, so the universe and all it contains points to the existence of a Designer and Creator.

Johnson pointed out that evolutionism was based on the philosophy of naturalism, the belief that nature is all there is; things began with just matter and energy. This philosophy conveniently removes God by assumption. Johnson was unwilling to grant this postulate. He argued there was a Mind behind the universe.

Johnson argued that not only had the philosophical naturalism of evolutionists poisoned science, but it had also poisoned law, morality, and ethics. He argued that if there is no transcendent Creator, then there is no transcendent basis for deciding moral rights and wrongs. If evolutionism is true, mankind is only left with the changeableness of majority opinion for deciding right and wrong.

Phillip E. Johnson Quotes

Here are some pithy Johnson quotes:
– “I got the opportunity when I was on a sabbatical in London in 1987 or 1988 to read more about Darwinism. It was immensely interesting to discover that it’s all circular reasoning, deception, and pseudo-science. I had suspected that, but I saw that it was really true. It is a pseudo-science that simply works for confirming examples of a materialist philosophical system that’s held up by a priori grids.”
– “My discovery that the reasoning in Darwinism is unscientific, illogical, and dishonest was tremendously important to me because it validates that ‘In the beginning was the Word‘ is really the correct starting point.”
– “The scientific key is, ‘No natural processes create genetic information.’ As soon as we get that out, there’s only one way the debate can go because Darwinists aren’t going to come up with a mechanism. They’ll start out talking about the peppered moth, and when that self-destructs, then they’ll say, ‘Oh, self-organizing systems, or the fourth law of thermodynamics,’ and other nonsense, which is just covering up ignorance.”
(James M. Kushiner, Berkeley’s Radical: An Interview with Phillip E. Johnson, Yale University, November 2000.)

– “Evolution is based on absolutely terrible scientific reasoning.”
– “Now, if you have any common sense at all, you will ask how does this [peppered moths] tell us how we get moths and trees and birds and scientific observers in the first place. It’s obviously inadequate. It doesn’t show the creation of anything. Nothing new enters. There’s light and dark moths at the beginning and at the end. And that’s it. That’s the most powerful demonstration of what natural selection has actually been seen to do. Why, then, is this taken as evidence of natural selection’s vast creative power?”
– “The first thing you understand is that the Darwinian theory isn’t true. It’s falsified by all of the evidence, and the logic is terrible. When you realize that, the next question that occurs to you is, ‘Well, where might you get truth?’ . . . I start with John 1:1, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ In the beginning was intelligence, purpose, and wisdom. The Bible had that right and the materialist scientists are deluding themselves.”
– “The next question is: Why do so many brilliant, well-informed, intelligent people fool themselves for so long with such bad thinking and bad evidence? Where are you going to go for the answer to that? Romans 1:20-23, which tells us that God’s eternal power and glory were always evident in the things that were created. Even Richard Dawkins, the arch atheist, arch materialist, high priest of Darwinism in England begins his major book on this subject by saying that biology is the study of extremely complicated things that look as if they were designed by a Creator for a purpose — and the job of science is to show that they weren’t. So it isn’t as if the truth wasn’t made evident to him. He turned away from it. That’s explained in Romans 1, and that brings us into the sin question and, eventually, to a point where we can ask people the great question Jesus posed to His disciples. ‘Who do men say that I am? And who do you say that I am?‘”
– “We have to come out to the culture with the view that we are the ones who really stand for freedom of thought. You see, we don’t have to fear freedom of thought because good thinking done in the right way will eventually lead back to the Church, to the truth — the truth that sets people free, even if it goes through a couple of detours on the way. And so we’re the ones that stand for good science, objective reasoning, assumptions on the table, a high level of education, and freedom of conscience to think as we are capable of thinking. That’s what America stands for, and that’s something we stand for, and that’s something the Christian Church and the Christian Gospel stand for — the truth that makes you free.”
(Phillip Johnson, How the Evolution Debate Can Be Won, archived November 2007.)

Phillip Johnson Video on Intelligent Design

Here is a 58-minute interview with Phillip Johnson about intelligent design, evolution, and science.

Questions to Ponder

1. Which Phillip Johnson quote will you copy onto a sticky note to keep pondering?
2. Who has God placed in your circle of contacts so they can hear evidence of the Creator from you?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria.

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday November 13, 2019 A.D.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3)

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  1. If there is denied the existence of a creator then that means that there is no creation. Since man is a creation then logically there has to be a creator,


  2. I much appreciate your work and the article on Philip Johnson. The Creation debate has long been of great interest to me. What I now find that I was surprised to discover is Theistic Evolution and the organization Bio Logos. Also the arguments of Old Earh Creationism as championed by Dr Hugh Ross. Can you refer me to articles that address these views from your perspective. I have read a book entitled “The Fool And the Heretic”


  3. Reblogged this on sixdaysblog and commented:
    I was sad to hear about the passing of Phillip Johnson, the author of Darwin on Trial. That was an an important book for me and greatly influenced my understanding of the Creation vs. Evolution debate.

    Here’s a nice recap by one of my blogging friends at the Bible-Science Guy.


    • Thanks for reblogging. I think you are one of many people for whom Johnson’s book greatly influenced their thinking.


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