Johnson interview

From: Keith B Miller (
Date: Sat Aug 19 2000 - 15:20:35 EDT

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    An interview with Phillip Johnson, from, is posted at
    the Discovery Institute at The interview
    pertains to Johnson's new book, "The Wedge of Truth."

    Here's a few quotes:

    1. How would you describe the main purpose of The Wedge of Truth in
    comparison to your other books?

    ...One definition says that scientists follow the evidence regardless of the
    philosophy; the other says that scientists must follow the (materialist)
    philosophy regardless of the evidence. The "Wedge of Truth" is driven
    between those two definitions, and enables people to recognize that "In the
    beginning was the Word" is as true scientifically as it is in every other

    5. Why do you think the general public is so willing to believe anything
    that the "scientific elite" says? Is it because they are so impressed with
    the mystery that enshrouds the halls of academia or is there a deeper issue
    at work?

    There is a deeper issue, and I explain it in The Wedge of Truth. The sad
    story is that denying the true God is often the starting point for human
    wisdom. We do not wish to honor the true God, and so we turn from the
    creator to created things, including idols of the mind like the theory of
    evolution. Of course secular universities are tempted that way, but the sad
    thing is that similar inclinations are widespread in the Christian academic
    world, and in the bureaucracies of the mainstream denominations.

    7. What are some of the major issues at stake in the debate over naturalism?

    The most important question is whether God is real or imaginary. Did God
    create man or did man create God? The latter is the teaching of evolutionary
    naturalism, and even many Christian thinkers tacitly assume that position.
    In Chapter Four of The Wedge of Truth I ask whether theology has any access
    to knowledge--as opposed to being mere subjective belief. These are some of
    the most important intellectual questions of our time, and also of all other

    8. Is debate even being allowed? If so, in what format and how is it being

    There is fierce resistance. For example, we had a conference at Baylor
    University in April 2000 to discuss whether the evidence of nature points
    towards or away from the need for a supernatural creator. It was probably
    the most distinguished conference in Baylor history, with two Nobel Prize
    winners and many of the country's most distinguished professors in science,
    philosophy, and history. The conference so frightened the Baylor faculty
    that they demanded that the sponsoring Institute be shut down at once to
    make sure that nothing of that kind ever happened again! Baylor is a Baptist
    University, by the way, that advertises itself to prospective students as
    providing a Christian education. On the issue of naturalism the university
    world is totally closed-minded and fearful. The nominally Christian
    institutions are particularly fearful because they are understandably
    worried that they will be accused of betraying their heritage and
    advertising themselves falsely. But the truth will eventually wear them

    9. What has been the response of the Christian community to your work? The
    secular community?

    I am extremely controversial (or even dismissed out of hand) in the
    Christian academic community, and in the moderate-to-liberal mainstream
    denominations like the PC-USA (to which I belong). I draw huge audiences at
    conservative churches and seminaries, and also at secular universities.
    Students are fascinated by the topic of origins, and want to hear something
    more substantial than the propaganda they get in their classes. The most
    peculiar reaction is the hostility which I encounter from many professors at
    Christian colleges and seminaries. You would be amazed if I gave a list of
    the evangelical institutions that don't want me on campus! This is not
    because I am unpopular there, but because my message is too well received
    for the comfort level of certain influential professors. I am raising a
    question that the accommodationist professors had hoped would be buried
    forever, and they are extremely embarrassed when students start asking them
    the tough questions about evolution and naturalism. But everyone who steps
    out on behalf of the truth encounters bitter opposition like that, in the
    church as well as in the secular world.

    10. Richard Dawkins is quoted as saying that science is not a religion
    because it, "is free from the main vice of religion, which is faith." How
    would you respond to this? How do you believe The Wedge of Truth will equip
    Christians to respond to statements like this?

    Dawkins has faith in metaphysical materialism. Absent that faith, it would
    be obvious to him (as it is to me) that the Darwinian "blind watchmaker"
    mechanism has no creative power. Everybody starts from faith, just as every
    house has a foundation. The question is not whether you will build upon a
    foundation, but whether you will build upon a foundation of rock or upon a
    foundation of sand.

    Keith B. Miller
    Department of Geology
    Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506

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