Darwin on Trial Phillip E. Johnson


Ann Gauger Honors Intelligent Design’s “Godfather”

On a new episode of ID the Future, we hear biologist and Center for Science & Culture Senior Fellow Ann Gauger speaking at a gathering to honor the late Phillip Johnson, the Berkeley law professor known affectionately as the “godfather” of the intelligent design movement. Download the podcast or listen to it here. Dr. Gauger tells of her journey of discovery, how she returned to a science career three times in her life, how she found her way into the ID movement, and how Johnson emboldened her to give free rein to a healthy scientific skepticism, one that has long had her pushing back against scientific materialism with a simple question: “Who says?” Photo: Phillip Johnson, screenshot from a video interview, “Focus on Darwinism,” Veritas Forum, via

Neo-Darwinism and the Big Bang of Man’s Origin 

When law professor Phillip E. Johnson1 was asked whether he wouldn’t be “a bit out of element” writing about evolution, neo-Darwinism,2 and intelligent design, he gave the following intriguing answer. It is acutely relevant for all readers and researchers who are interested in the origin of man but who are not paleoanthropologists:  Well, if I am out of my element then Charles Darwin must also have been out of his element because his training was in medicine and theology3 although he was, in fact, a very good scientist, self-taught, a gentlemen amateur like others of his time. Charles Lyell, the father of modern geology, was a lawyer. But you know, the thing about Darwinian evolution today is that it is a general philosophical concept that connects many disparate fields of

Surprises in Cell Codes Reveal Information Goes Far Beyond DNA

Information is the stuff of life. Not limited to DNA, information is found in most biomolecules in living cells. Here are some recent developments. Sugar Code Certain forms of sugars (polysaccharides called chitosans) trigger the immune system of plants. Biologists at the University of Münster are “deciphering the sugar code.” They describe the variables in chitosans that constitute a signaling system.  Chitosans consist of chains of different lengths of a simple sugar called glucosamine. Some of these sugar molecules carry an acetic acid molecule, others do not. Chitosans therefore differ in three factors: the chain length and the number and distribution of acetic acid residues along the sugar chain. For about twenty years, chemists have been able to produce chitosans of

The Long View: Michael Behe Pays Tribute to Phillip Johnson

On a new episode of ID the Future we continue a series of messages from a November 2019 symposium in Berkeley, California, presented in honor of the late Phillip Johnson, who played a crucial role in the flowering of the intelligent design movement. Download the podcast or listen to it here. On today’s episode Lehigh University biology professor Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box, The Edge of Evolution, and Darwin Devolves, tells about his earliest memories of Phillip Johnson and speaks about the long history of science: how ancient science pointed to purposeful design in life, and how current science is coming full circle. Considering this long view, the conclusion of design is as strong as or stronger than it has ever been. Photo: Phillip and Kathie Johnson at

“We Are Not of Our Own Devising” — Wells, Nelson Pay Tribute to Phil Johnson

A new episode of ID the Future comes from a Berkeley, California, symposium honoring the recently deceased Phillip Johnson. Download the podcast or listen to it here. Biologist Jonathan Wells recalls how he met Johnson and the huge influence the latter had on Wells’s own research and writing. Then philosopher of biology Paul Nelson reminisces on Johnson’s keen intellect, his eye for hidden assumptions, his awareness that “we are not of our own devising,” and on the mountain range of new knowledge opening up to us in biology, one that scientists knew little about even thirty years ago and that Nelson says points strongly away from Darwin’s idea of common descent. Photo: John Mark Reynolds, Phil Johnson, and Paul Nelson, Pajaro Dunes, California, June 1998, by Suzanne

Listen: In Berkeley, California, Stephen Meyer Honors Phillip Johnson

On a new episode of ID the Future, we hear the first of a series of podcasts in honor of the late Phillip E. Johnson, the pioneering thinker, networker, and organizer, who played such a crucial role in the development and growth of the intelligent design movement. Download the episode or listen to it here. These messages come mostly from a November 2019 symposium held in Johnson’s honor in Berkeley, California. Today, listen to Stephen C. Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, as he opens the symposium and introduces speakers to come. There follows the first of these speakers: Phillip Johnson himself, in thoughts previously recorded by Illustra Media on intelligent design, philosophical materialism, and strategies for accomplishing

#8 of Our Top Stories of 2019: Remembering Phillip E. Johnson (1940-2019)

Editor’s note: The staff of Evolution News wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We are counting down our top ten stories of 2019. If you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment now to contribute to our work in bringing you news and analysis about evolution, intelligent design, and more every day of the year. There is no other voice, no other source of information, like ours. Thank you for your friendship and your support! The following article was originally published here on November 3, 2019. Author’s note: With great regret, we recognize the passing of Phillip Johnson, a key guiding spirit of the intelligent design movement. He died peacefully overnight this weekend, at age 79, at his home in Berkeley, California. I am publishing below an essay by Casey

Taking Stock at Year’s End

The days grow short and dark, especially in Seattle this time of year, and my thoughts naturally turn to endings, to what we have accomplished and what is yet to do. I reflect on choices made and roads taken. Perhaps my mood is intensified by the passing of Professor Phillip Johnson last month. He was and will remain one of the great foundations of the modern intelligent design movement. Choices made — the choice to turn my hand to this work and these people. I am well aware of the seemingly overwhelming bastions of academia arrayed against us, which in large part hold us in disdain. I don’t have a particularly tough hide. I am cautious when telling ordinary people I encounter what it is I do. Sometimes people are puzzled, sometimes intrigued. Only a few times have I

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

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