Johnson was perhaps the first person after David Berlinski to just ask, point blank, never mind religion or whatever, why does all this tabloid-level nonsense rule biology?
Dembski, himself author of The Design Inference and many other ID works, goes on to say,
Phil was a law professor specializing in criminal law. In fact, he wrote one of the key textbooks on criminal law (you can find his legal texts on Amazon, where one of the volumes retails for over $400). In criminal law, guilt must be decided to a moral certainty and beyond reasonable doubt. Phil’s standards of evidence were thus always high. He therefore eschewed the porous Darwinian thinking that could see evolutionary connections and the hand of natural selection not because there was hard evidence for these but because materialistic bias required it.
This is why, to this day, the ID community is, by and large, unconvinced of common descent (and not just skeptical of the power of natural selection). It’s not that common descent is inimical to ID (Mike Behe, a key ID proponent, accepts both common descent and ID). It’s just that, to a hard-nosed criminal attorney like Phil, common descent, to be credible, requires compelling evidence and not a handwaving argument to the effect that reasonable minds must needs explain biological similarity in terms of evolutionary connectedness.
Phil’s habit of mind of following the evidence where it leads and not being misled by assumptions that are suspect is perhaps Phil’s greatest gift to the ID community. We see it in Steve Meyer ’s book Darwin’s Doubt. We see it everywhere in the ID community to this day!
Bill Dembski, “Phillip E. Johnson (1940-2019), Some Reflections” at Freedom, Technology, Education
See also: Thinkmag tributes to the late Phillip Johnson. Stonestreet and Morris: Johnson’s articulation that naturalism had not only poisoned science but also law and ethics shaped Chuck Colson’s thinking, and consequently, shaped BreakPoint.
Phillip Johnson: Jun 18, 1940–Nov 2, 2019 (aged 79) The father of intelligent design theory. Peacefully in his sleep.
Remembering the impact of Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (1991) “Biochemist Michael Behe explains how a biased critique of Darwin on Trial in the journal Science led Behe to join the ID movement.” – Casey Luskin And, as a tenured professor, Behe went on to be a thorn in the Darwinians’ side insofar as their strategy had, for so long, been to prevent critics from acquiring accepted credentials.
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