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Paul Nelson remembers Phillip Johnson: Not like he’d expected

20th Anniversary Edition of Phillip Johnson's DARWIN ON ...

He starts with, “When I first met Phil Johnson, it was not Phil Johnson whom I met”:

It was his unpublished prose. In June 1988, in a hotel conference room in Tacoma, Washington, Steve Meyer handed me a stapled manuscript of about 80 pages in length. “A crazy law professor I talked with in London,” he said, “wrote this, and he is looking for responses.” I took the manuscript off to a corner of the room and started reading. Whoever this guy is, I recall thinking to myself, after only a few pages, he is going to make a big difference. Phil’s personality — his fearlessness, his insight, his wit — shone through on every page. The writer was there in the room, at that moment, even though he was still on sabbatical in London.

A Year Later: One year later, again in Tacoma, I met the man behind the prose, which later became Darwin on Trial (1991). On first inspection, Phil wasn’t much to look at: short, balding, bespectacled, attired in drab academic fashion, with a quizzical expression on his face, he seemed not to match the witty and courageous persona of the manuscript.

Paul; Nelson, “Phillip Johnson and the Rebellion of the Evidence” at Evolution News and Science Today

Hot tip from a sometime talent scout: They seldom look like they should.

That’s a sign of authenticity. Experience looks different from packaging.

See also: Jonathan Wells remembers Phillip Johnson as a breath of fresh air. Wells is the author of Zombie Science, about out-of-date Darwinian rubbish whacked from one edition of a given publicly funded textbook to another, often claiming the protection of law as if it were some kind of Holy Writ that founds a religious republic.


Bill Dembski remembers Phil Johnson (1940–2019). Dembski begins by reminding us of the book, Darwin’s Nemesis (2006), which introduced Johnson as “the leading figure” in the intelligent design movement—which he was. 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?


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