Darwin on Trial Phillip E. Johnson

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Darwin’s Origin of Species — Some Historical Reflections 160 Years Later

Popular science writer David Quammen speaks for many when he calls Darwin “central,” and “iconic,” with a “brilliant mind” (The Reluctant Mr. Darwin). His academic counterpart, Keith Thomson, professor emeritus of natural history at Oxford University, regards Darwin as “intense, self-absorbed, brilliant,” a well-born elite with an “acute intelligence” and a “dogged perseverance” (The Young Charles Darwin). Darwin’s leading biographer, Janet Browne, admits that Origin created a sensation its first day of publication, selling out its initial print run, ultimately making him “revered for his achievement and personal character, the very model of what a man of science should be” (Darwin’s Origin of Species). Sitting here 160 years to the day later — the

Wallace’s Frenemies: A Lesson from Phillip Johnson

In a post yesterday I replied to Harvard evolutionary biologist Andrew Berry’s bumbling review of my book Nature’s Prophet. It was written as an antidote to people precisely like Berry who selectively praise Wallace when he’s engaged in science talk, but are quick to brand him a fool when he expresses any of his metaphysical views. Wallace’s historiography is festooned with such frenemies, Berry among them (more are mentioned in the book).  This is all the more unfortunate because Wallace himself devoted the last half of his life to things these frenemies so adamantly oppose. Nature’s Prophet allows the whole Wallace to speak, and speak proudly and unapologetically. While I stated my case on most points, one more seems so surprising that it deserves special comment.

Douglas Axe: On the 160th Anniversary of Darwin’s Origin, “Fear of Man,” the Cringe Factor, and More

Professor Sean McDowell at Biola University interviewed Doug Axe, author of Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed. The occasion for the conversation was the upcoming 160th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, this Sunday, November 24. I love how Dr. Axe, the Maxwell Professor of Molecular Biology at Biola, pulls no punches. Whose Side? On the cringe factor and the role of the “fear of man” in the defense of Darwin: I’m concerned because this shift seems to be driven by the fear of man. That impression was solidified for me in July of 2007, at a small gathering of Christians hoping to resolve the tension over Darwinism. After two hours of vigorous scientific discussion, an attendee who had been silent to that point

Phillip Johnson: A Fond Farewell

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from staff, friends, and Fellows of Discovery Institute. Philosopher of biology Michael Ruse, cherished by ID proponents as a longtime friendly antagonist, is the author of The Problem of War: Darwinism, Christianity, and their Battle to Understand Human Conflict and other books. Professor Ruse directs the Program in History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University. I have just learned of the death of Phillip Johnson. We were very much on different sides of the IDT debate, but I think I can truly say that our intellectual (and faith) disagreements made no difference to our personal respect and (dare

Memorial Symposium for Phillip Johnson

Following a private memorial service on November 23, Discovery Institute is pleased to host a brief public symposium in honor of the late Phillip E. Johnson — U.C. Berkeley law professor and Center for Science & Culture program advisor, who passed away earlier this month. You are invited to join us at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley from 4:00–5:30 pm on Saturday, November 23, to hear brief (10–15 minute) tributes from intelligent design scientists and scholars who have been directly impacted by Phil’s life and have since become the ID torch-bearers for our generation. Among those speaking will be Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, Douglas Axe, Paul Nelson, and others. The presenters will share their unique perspectives on the impact of

More on Christianity Today and Phillip Johnson’s Legacy in Science Education and Law

Evolution News recently commented on a Christianity Today obituary of Phillip Johnson, which misrepresented and greatly understated his legacy in science education and the law. The obituary has now been modified in response, but the modifications either fail to correct the errors, or make corrections that, while technically correct, seems to deliberately ignore the real-world influence that Johnson exercised. In other words, the article’s problems remain effectively unchanged. It now says this: “A few states started requiring schools to teach the intelligent design critiques of Darwinian evolution in the late 1990s and early 2000s, until a federal court ruled it was unconstitutional for schools to teach intelligent design.” Saying that teaching the controversy persisted

A Layman’s Tribute to Phillip Johnson

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from staff, friends, and Fellows of Discovery Institute. Mr. McLaughlin is Senior Director of Advancement for Ratio Christi. The weekend before last saw the passing of Phillip E. Johnson, best known for his seminal book Darwin On Trial and for being the godfather of the modern intelligent design movement. Other who knew Johnson personally have offered their heartfelt tributes to the man as both a friend and mentor. I only met Johnson a few times myself. We had some short and pleasant conversations, but I cannot claim to have known him well. Still, he had a profound impact on my life. My career was greatly

Listen: Phillip Johnson Discusses Darwin on Trial

Over the past week we have been commemorating the man called the “godfather” of the intelligent design movement, Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson, who passed away last Saturday, November 2. Now, on an episode of ID the Future, Phil Johnson himself discusses the impact of his seminal book Darwin on Trial. He spoke at a 2011 Discovery Institute event commemorating the book’s 20th anniversary. Download the podcast or listen to it here. Johnson challenged mainstream beliefs about Darwinian evolution and inspired many scientists and scholars of the modern ID movement. Listen in to learn why, according to the self-effacing scholar, he was always “puzzled when someone describes me as courageous,” and how he got involved in the debate over Darwinism and intelligent

Phillip E. Johnson: A Reading List from Gandalf

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from Fellows of Discovery Institute. John Mark Reynolds blogs at Patheos where this was originally published. A philosopher, administrator, and Platonist, Dr. Reynolds is president of The Saint Constantine School in Houston, Texas. I have known Socrates and Gandalf, or at least men in this life who modeled the virtues of these heroes, historical and mythical, in the 21st century. Saturday I learned the man I called Gandalf had gone into the West. Phillip E. Johnson was a man who lived by words: watch an interview when he was healthy and you will see a man who swam in English like a dolphin loved

Stephen Meyer: “Phil Johnson Had the Guts”

On an episode of ID The Future, Stephen Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, honors Phillip Johnson, the U.C. Berkeley law professor who helped ignite the modern intelligent design movement with the publication of his highly successful book Darwin on Trial. Meyer says Johnson had the courage to speak up when others wouldn’t. Download the podcast or listen to it here. “The overweening dynamic of this debate is fear,” Meyer says. “There are many many many people who have come up to the water’s edge, who have seen the problems with Darwinian evolution, have counted the cost, and recoiled.” But one Berkeley law professor did not recoil. As Meyer put it, “Johnson had the guts.” Photo: Phillip E. Johnson, debating evolutionist

Phillip Johnson’s Legacy in Science Education and the Law

Christianity Today published an obituary remembering Phillip Johnson that tells many interesting details of his life. Unfortunately it also contains some misstatements about the law and legislative history regarding evolution education, and for that reason it significantly understates the long-lasting legacy of Johnson’s work in the area of science education. The article states: A few states started requiring schools to teach the intelligent design critiques of Darwinian evolution in the late 1990s and early 2000s, until it was stopped by a federal court ruling. An Important Distinction That isn’t quite right. The law distinguishes between teaching critiques of Darwinian evolution and teaching intelligent design (ID). The former (critiquing Darwin) has never been

Phillip E. Johnson (1940-2019), Some Reflections

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Dr. Dembski's many books include Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information. A mathematician and philosopher, he serves on the Board of Directors of Discovery Institute. My friend and colleague Phil Johnson died this past Saturday, November 2, 2019. It was with sadness that I learned the news. I’d like in this post to reflect on his life and work, as well as to relate some more personal interactions that I had with him. I was privileged to organize the festschrift volume in Phil’s honor, titled Darwin’s Nemesis, which came out in 2006. Let me start this reflection with my introductory remarks about Phil from that volume. I’ll then add

Wonderful Profile of Phil Johnson in…the Washington Post?

Hard to believe, but collected at the Darwin on Trial website is a wonderful, yes wonderful, Washington Post profile of intelligent design “godfather” Phillip E. Johnson, who died on November 2. Of course, the article isn’t recent. The Washington Post of today wouldn’t be so fair or, indeed, sympathetic. Their more recent commentary compared Johnson and ID proponents, absurdly, with conspiracy theorists. A Softer View But a 2005 profile by feature writer Michael Powell, “Doubting Rationalist,” paints a rounded portrait and is very charmingly written. Powell begins by half-apologetically acknowledging that his newspaper has, in the editorial pages, taken a harsher view of ID than he evidently does: BERKELEY, Calif. “The Washington Post is not one of my biggest fans,

Science, Scientism, and Magic

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Reproduced below, his Foreword to John West’s collection, The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, was among his last writings. C.S. Lewis’s many admirers will be eager to read this collection of articles, collected and edited by Discovery Institute’s John West, concerning Lewis’s views of science, which he respected, and scientism, against which he warned. The book contains a timely and well-reasoned chapter about Lewis and intelligent design, which seems to have replaced creationism as the alternative most feared and reviled by Darwinists. Another chapter describes the subtle interconnection between That Hideous

Remembering Phil Johnson: Visiting San Fran Will Never Be the Same

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from Fellows of Discovery Institute. Dr. Denton’s latest book is Children of Light: The Astonishing Properties of Sunlight that Make Us Possible. I was so sad to hear that Phil Johnson is no longer with us. I first met Phil after he invited me to stay with him in San Fran in the late 1980s after he had read Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. When I asked him on the phone from Sydney how I would recognize him in the arrival hall he said, “I’ll be holding up a copy of Evolution.” As I was travelling from Sydney to the U.S. several times a year in those days, working on retinal genetics with colleagues at the

Darwin on Trial — As Fresh and Relevant as Ever

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from Fellows of Discovery Institute. Dr. Behe’s most recent book is Darwin Devolves. The following essay appeared originally as the Foreword to the 20th Anniversary edition of Darwin on Trial. Twenty years can be a virtual eternity in modern science, so rapidly do new discoveries accumulate. Twenty years ago the idea of determining the entire DNA sequence of even a tiny living organism such as a bacterium, let alone the genetic endowment of a large animal such as a mammal, seemed a dream. Yet shortly before I wrote this foreword, the 1000th kind of bacterial genome was sequenced. The DNA code of humans was

Phillip Johnson: The “Mahatma” of the Intelligent Design Movement 

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from staff, friends, and Fellows of Discovery Institute. Phil Johnson (1940-2019) is the “godfather” of the intelligent design movement. But on a new episode of ID the Future, biologist Jonathan Wells contributes another moniker: the Indian honorific title Mahatma, or “great soul.” Phil operated partly in the background, as far as the public is concerned, yet contributed many of the ideas and strategies that define ID advocacy today. Dr. Wells discusses Johnson’s impact with host Rob Crowther. Listen to the podcast or download it here. ID’s Chief Counsel Much of his influence was felt in his bringing

Phil Johnson Helped Set the Course of My Life

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from staff, friends, and Fellows of Discovery Institute. Dr. Miller is Research Coordinator for the Center for Science & Culture. Phillip Johnson was instrumental in my involvement with the intelligent design movement. During my early years of graduate school, I was wrestling with the question of whether I was an unintended accident of nature or the product of a Creator. I first explored this question through reading the books The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, by Richard Dawkins, and Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton.  Denton’s book

Phillip Johnson and the Rebellion of the Evidence

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from Fellows of Discovery Institute. The book fascinated him, or more exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden. The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.  George Orwell, describing Winston Smith reading, in 1984 When I first met Phil Johnson, it was not Phil Johnson whom I met. It was his

Majestic Ascent: Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from Fellows of Discovery Institute. Dr. Berlinski’s essay is drawn from his new book, out on November 11, Human Nature, currently available for pre-ordering. Richard Dawkins published The Blind Watchmaker in 1986.1 The appearance of design in nature, Dawkins argued, is an illusion. Complex biological structures may be entirely explained by random variations and natural selection. Why biology should be quite so vested in illusions, Dawkins did not say. The Blind Watchmaker captured the public’s imagination, but in securing the public’s allegiance, very little was left to chance. Those critics who believed

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