The father of intelligent design theory. Peacefully in his sleep.
See also: Phillip E. Johnson: The man who lit the match.
He was Jefferson E. Peyser Professor of Law, emeritus, School of Law, University of California, Berkeley. His was the first book to draw attention to the fact that the nonsense marketed in Darwin’s name manly supported naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism,” not science as such:
Phillip Johnson, law professor emeritus of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, is widely recognized as the godfather of the contemporary intelligent design (ID) movement. As the author of several books and numerous articles explaining scientific, legal, and cultural dimension of the debate over ID and Darwinism, Johnson was one of the most prolific authors in the formative years of the movement.
It was Johnson’s 1991 book Darwin on Trial that first convinced many thinkers that neo-Darwinian evolution was buttressed more by a philosophy of naturalism than by the scientific evidence. Johnson’s influential writing became the magnet of scholars from a variety of fields—biology, chemistry, physics, philosophy, theology, and law—to forge the intelligent design movement.
Casey Luskin, “The Significance of Phillip Johnson” at Darwin on Trial
From Intelligent Design 101 (2008):
Fifteen years ago I published a book that I thought might add a few ounces of balance to the debate over Darwin’s theory of evolution. The main thrust of that book, Darwin on Trial, was that evolution is propped up more by naturalistic philosophy than by the scientific evidence. Much to my pleasant surprise, this book turned out to be the match that lit the tinder beneath a stockpile of dry logs. This is not to my credit; the logs had been piled high, and the tinder gathered. Darwinian naturalists had accumulated a large stock of public discontent. [p. 23]
A bit of his personal motivations:
Johnson’s early thirties became a period of disillusionment. His wife left him to raise the kids while she moved on to pursue a career in “artistic politics.” He found his academic career boring and shallow, and his “nominal agnosticism” left him feeling unfulfilled.
Johnson knew he needed centering, at he found it in his conversion to Christianity at the age of 38. He married his present wife, Kathie, and their experiences at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley became an increasingly important part of their lives.
Johnson’s “evolution” made him increasingly skeptical of academic culture. Everywhere he looked, he found what academics were calling “reasoning” he saw as “rationalization.” “The problem with rationalism,” as Johnson put it, “is that it isn’t rational.” The premises that academics operate from are a matter of choice—and to Johnson’s mind, in many cases the choice is highly suspect.
Eventually, Johnson’s interest in exposing suspect premises led him to evolution. Johnson, by his own account, recognized that “if Darwinism is true, Christian metaphysics is fantasy.” He felt compelled to test his Christian beliefs by taking a sabbatical in London and plunging into the diverse and complex literature (Johnson calls it “circular reasoning, deception, and pseudo-science”) on the subject of evolution.
What Johnson found as he read Richard Dawkins, Isaac Asimov, Stephen Jay Gould, and the other authors of well-known Darwinist books was, in his words, a “stunning” indifference to facts and reasoning that appeared to him “unscientific, illogical, and dishonest.”Doug Linder, “Phillip E. Johnson” at University of Missouri, Kansas City
Top 25 Phillip E. Johnson quotes, including:
A Chinese paleontologist lectures around the world saying that recent fossil finds in his country are inconsistent with the Darwinian theory of evolution. His reason: The major animal groups appear abruptly in the rocks over a relatively short time, rather than evolving gradually from a common ancestor as Darwin’s theory predicts. When this conclusion upsets American scientists, he wryly comments: “In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin.” – Phillip E. Johnson
Some of Johnson’s other books.