BERKELEY, CA – Phillip Johnson has been called “The Father of Intelligent Design.” Even he knew that title was hyperbole at best and, most certainly, inaccurate. The Berkeley University law professor would say that the Lord God is the Father of Intelligent Design.
Nonetheless, that same God created and uniquely gifted Phil Johnson to be a leading defender of intelligent design in the face of the proliferation of Darwinism during the past 30 years.
The publication of his first book in 1991, Darwin on Trial, thrust him into the middle of the evolution theory/ Biblical fact foray. The title of another of his books, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, published in 1998, provides some insight into his effectiveness in the critical debate over the false claims of Darwinism. In 2008, he said,
“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.”
Although he could have easily defended his understanding of intelligent design from the pages of the Bible, he chose an argument more elegantly suited to confront the advocates of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He built his case upon objective education.
He called his strategy “the wedge movement” or, as he described it, “Stick with the most important thing.” That is, stick with the argument against evolution. He took the Bible out of the debate so that the intellectual prejudice against Scripture would not be a component of his case.
He began – and stuck with – the question, “Do you need a Creator to do the creating, or can nature do it on its own?” In this way, he switched the burden of proof to the defenders of Darwinism. And, he lit the match that started the fires of the modern-day intelligent design movement.
“What I am not doing is bringing the Bible into the university and saying, “We should believe this.”
“Bringing the Bible into question works very well when you are talking to a Bible-believing audience. But it is a disastrous thing to do when you are talking, as I am constantly, to a world of people for whom the fact that something is in the Bible is a reason for not believing it.
“I . . . focus on the defects in their case – the bad logic, the bad science, the bad reasoning, and the bad evidence.”
Phillip Johnson went to Heaven to live with his Creator, Lord, and Savior during the first weekend in November 2019.
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- The Christian Post, Phillip E. Johnson, noted champion of Intelligent Design, dies
- Intervarsity Press, Phillip E. Johnson
- Evolution News, Remembering Phillip E. Johnson (1940-2019): The Man Who Lit the Match
- Wikipedia, Phillip E. Johnson
- Phillip E. Johnson on Darwinism, YouTube