Re: Phil Johnson's Approach

Dick Fischer (
Sun, 23 Feb 1997 15:24:06 -0600

At 10:00 AM 2/23/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Dear Colleagues:
>Terry Morrison is the Director of Faculty Ministries for IVCF, a
>former Chem. professor at Butler U., and an ASAer. Terry Asked me to
>post the following Q on this listserv. Terry is an important channel of
>communication of our views in this matter to senior IVCF staff and
>grad students.
>"Recently some Christians in higher education have asked me why
>scientists affiliated with ASA and/or IVCF seem often to be unhappy with
>Phil Johnson's work.

This "unhappy" reaction shows you can fool some of the people all the time
and all the people some of the time, but scientists aren't easily fooled.
Johnson's lawyerly approach works well in a court of law where doubts are
raised and twelve non-experts decide whether or not the state has proved a
case. Among non-experts, Johnson has proved to be a persuasive force. But
we all should know acquittal does not always equate with "innocence."

Johnson's argument is sophisticated and presented brilliantly, but follows
the same path that other "creationists" have pursued. Once you see the flaws
inherent in the methodology, even well-argued, anti-evolutionary rhetoric is
easy to see through. Johnson's technique might be called "science by

Let me give an example. You introduce your sister to someone. He then tells
another person that you introduced someone as your "sister," but consider:

Maybe this "sister" wasn't female.

1. "She" was wearing trousers.
2. "She" was not wearing a bra.
3. "She" had short, closely cropped hair.
4. No perfume was evident.
5. No high heels were worn or pantyhose.
6. "She" had a husky voice.
7. And etc.

And, maybe you two aren't related.

1. You have brown eyes, hers are blue.
2. You have brown hair, her hair is red.
3. You are slender, she looks fat.
4. You are a Christian, she hasn't even been baptized.
5. You are university educated, she hasn't attended high school.
6. She has freckles, you don't.
7. And etc.

Now, influenced by these arguments, a group has been started who think you
are confused, or trying to deceive, or worse. You might have said, if
asked, "Wait a minute. She is only 6 years old. I have known her since
In other words, all of the objections could be answered, but only if they
come and ask.

Johnson's followers don't ask. They don't question. Armed with more
creationist propaganda, misguided and misled, they proceed to confront
scientists and assail the walls of academia with newfound zeal. "Unhappy?"
You bet, and frustrated to boot.

Now consider whether or not the propagator may be culpable. In the example
above, why was it not revealed that the girl was very young? What does
Johnson know, but just doesn't talk about? Remember, confidentiality is the
accepted norm in the legal profession. Is Johnson ignorant of DNA evidence,
for example? Is he unaware of transitional fossils that have been found in
recent years? Is it possible that he adheres more closely to the code of
the legal profession than to a code of honest reporting that should be
inherent among Christians? In other words, is Johnson pandering to gullible

Dick Fischer