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Remembering the impact of Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (1991)


On account of Phillip Johnson’s passing a couple of days ago, the Darwin on Trial website is being cleaned up and updated here.

Written some years ago:

ID critics quickly learned that the most effective way to target ID was not to address its arguments, but to make accusations of secret, sinister motives among proponents. One imagines the godfather Phillip Johnson in a smoky dark room handing “wedge documents” to his eager followers, charging them to go forth and baptize converts to intelligent design.

On the contrary, with Phillip Johnson, what you see is what you get. As John Mark Reynolds explains in Darwin’s Nemesis:

Phillip Johnson is one of those rare individuals who is always the same person. He asks the same hard questions in Sunday School as he does in the Berkeley classroom. He has a unified personality. I have seen him in hundreds of different situations, and there is no split in his soul. [p. 27]

While Johnson wouldn’t flatter himself with such praise, he too observes that he has never hidden anything. “I always find these conspiracy theories amusing because our strategy has been transparent from the beginning,” writes Johnson. “After all, I titled my fifth book The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism.”

What is more striking is Johnson’s gentlemanly responses to critics. “He is not a hater, not even of his enemies,” writes John Mark Reynolds. “This is why so many who disagree with him can still respect him…He suffers fools gladly.” [Darwin’s Nemesis, pp. 26-27]

Ironically, intemperate efforts to attack Johnson often ended up drawing people to him, creating a growing network of scientists and other scholars interested in intelligent design. 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, “Biography The Significance of Phillip Johnson” at Darwin on Trial.com

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.

Here’s an excerpt from Darwin on Trial.

Here are a great many of his articles on the topic of design in nature.

Here’s the 20th-anniversary trailer:

See also: Phillip Johnson: Jun 18, 1940–Nov 2, 2019 (aged 79) The father of intelligent design theory. Peacefully in his sleep.


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