Re: Why Does the University Fear Phillip Johnson?

Date: Tue Jan 11 2000 - 10:54:45 EST

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    In a message dated 1/11/00 8:12:09 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

     Probe Ministries
     Why Does the University Fear Phillip Johnson?
     Raymond G. Bohlin, Ph.D.
     Who Is Phillip Johnson?
    *snip far over-reaching hero-worship and embellished history ['beauty queen
    wife? com eon - I've seen pictures of the guy...]*
     Johnson's primary task seems to be continually provoking the scientific
     community into facing the reality of its naturalistic presuppositions.
    **** Maybe he sees it that way, but that brings up a good point: WHY is this
    the task of a law professor? Shouldn't he be 'provoking' the legal

     In earlier years, the scientific establishment was able to dismiss
     and not officially respond. But when a tenured law professor from Berkeley
     starts messing with your head, people start answering back. The National
     Academy of Sciences has issued two publications in the last two years
     trying to stem the tide.{1} The cracks in Darwinian evolution are beginning
     to show.
    **** And all because of Johnson... Yeah... Sure...

     What Could a Law Professor Say About Evolution?
    **** My question exactly...

     What could a legal scholar possibly have to say about evolution? Many in
     the academic community have raised the same question as Phillip Johnson
     has visited their university. In his own words Johnson states: "I approach
     the creation-evolution dispute not as a scientist but as a professor of law,
     which means among other things that I know something about the ways
     that words are used in arguments."{2}

    ***** And it also shows, among other things, how someone with no bniology
    background can make nonsensical arguments against something they know nothing
    about because they believe style to be more important than substance.

     Specifically what Johnson noticed was that both the rules of debate about
     the issue as well as the word evolution itself were defined in such a way as
     to rule out objections from the start. Science is only about discovering
     naturalistic causes of phenomena, therefore arguing against the sufficiency
     of natural causes is not science! Also the "fact of evolution" is determined
     not by the usual definition of fact such as collected data or something like
     space travel which has been done, but as something arrived by majority
    ***** What bullshit.

    Steven J. Gould said, "In science, fact can only mean 'confirmed to
     such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.'"{3}

    **** Yes - and how does expert-of-all-experts Johnson interpret that?
    Bohlin? Why, they say it is 'popular vote'! Idiots....
     In the early chapters of Darwin on Trial, Johnson does an excellent job of
     summarizing the evidence that has been around for decades calling
     Darwinian evolution into question. These include problems with the
     mechanism of mutation and natural selection, problems with finding
     transitional fossils between major groups when they should be numerous,
    ***WHY should they be numerous?
     problems with the molecular evidence for common descent,
    **** THAT is funny! Having read Johnson's pamphlet, I can easily say that
    his grasp of the molecular issues is comical at best! He writes an entire
    non-cited chapter based on 3 references and it is called 'authoritative' by
    many - many also ignorant of the issue, it seems...
    and severe problems with any scenario for the origin of life.
    **** Which has nothing to do with evolution anyway...
     In a chapter titled "The Rules of Science" Johnson excels in illuminating
     clever web evolutionists have drawn to insulate evolution from
    **** I wonder - is it as 'clever' as placing ID beyond inquiry? As claiming
    that in the end, no matter what evidence is put forth, the creationist/IDist
    will ALWAYS reject or ignore it in order to proclaim creation 'true'?

    In order to limit discussion to naturalistic causes, science is
     defined in purely naturalistic terms.
    ***** Oh, how terrible!! Why, scientists of all stripes should be
    interjecting the supernatural every time they run into a complicated problem!

    In the Arkansas creation law decision,
     Judge Overton said science was defined as being guided and explained by
     natural law, testable, tentative, and falsifiable. Overton got this from the
     called expert testimony of scientists collected for the trial by the ACLU.
    **** And the witnesses for the creationists? ICR zealots and others with
    zany anti-evolution ideas. You will notice that even Johnsons own profession
    - the law - found creationism to be religious.

     These criteria were used against creation on the one hand to say that a
     creator is not falsifiable, and also that the tenets of creation science
     demonstrably false. How can something be non-falsifiable and false at the
     same time?
    **** Simple - you have mentioned two different things Ray - can't you see
    that? Of course not - creationists believe creationism and creator to be the
     The conflict enters in when one realizes that creation by Darwinist
     evolution is as un- observable as creation by a supernatural creator. No one
     has ever observed any lineage changing into another and the few fossil
     transitions that exist are fragmentary and disputable.
    **** Directly observable, probably not. Indirectly observable, yes. Then, I
    haven't seen the bible god create anything lately, or perform any
    'impressive' miracles...

    "As an explanation for modifications in populations, Darwinism is an
    empirical doctrine. As an explanation for how complex organisms came into
    existence in the first place, it is pure philosophy."{5}
    **** What a cracker jack law professor! Make a strawman and call it logical!
     In a chapter titled "Darwinist Religion" Johnson points out that despite the
     claims of scientists that evolution is secular, it is loaded with religious
     philosophical implications. Most definitions of evolution emphasize its lack
     of purpose or goal. This makes evolution decidedly non-purposive in
     contrast to a theistic, purposive interpretation of nature.
    **** What insight.... But I wonder - what are the tenets of this
    evolution-based religion? Who/what is the figurehead?

     If it is the philosophic opposite of theism, evolution must be religious
    itself. Darwin
     himself constantly argued the superiority of descent with modification over
     creation. If scientific arguments can be made against theism, why can't
     scientific arguments be made for theism?
    ***** Because theistic arguments are illogical and not reality based.

     Darwin on Trial continues to sell, to be read, and to influence those open
     to consider the evidence. Since Johnson is not a scientist his book is
     readable to the educated layman. If you have never picked it up, you owe it
     to yourself to read what has become a classic in the creation/evolution

    ***** It influences those too ignorant to know better, I will agree. As a
    lawyer Johnson makes a good case, I'm sure. Then, thats what lawyers do.
     Johnson Extends His Case against Evolution into Law and Education.
     Over the years of speaking on the creation/evolution issue I have been
     asked many times why people get so upset over this issue. If it is just a
     question of scientific accuracy, why does it produce such emotional
     extremes? The answer, of course, is that the creation/evolution debate
     involves much more than science. At question is which world view should
     hold sway in making public decisions.
    ***** Oh thats it. Why, evolutionists are a powerful lobby in Washington.
    Just the other day, I saw all of the presidential candidates say how much
    evolution has influenced their lives....

     In Phil Johnson's second book, Reason in the Balance, he makes this very
     point when he says, "What has really happened is that a new established
     religious philosophy has replaced the old one. Like the old philosophy, the
     new one is tolerant only up to a point, specifically, the point where its
     right to rule the public square is threatened."{6}

    **** He must be talking about the new right-wing brand of Christianity...
     The old philosophy Johnson speaks of is the theistic or Judeo-Christian
     world view and the new philosophy is the materialist or naturalistic world
     view. Johnson has referred to Reason in the Balance as his most significant
     and important work. That is because it is here that he lays the all
     philosophical groundwork for the scientific, legal, and educational
     battleground of which the creation/evolution controversy is only a part.
     That we no longer live in a country dominated by Judeo-Christian
     principles should be inherently obvious to most.

    ***** LOL!!!! I guess Ray and friends don't read the papers too much....

     But what many have
     missed is the concerted effort by the intellectual, naturalistic community
     eliminate any possibility of debate of the worthiness of their position. On
     page 45 Johnson says,
     "Modernist discourse accordingly incorporates semantic devices_such as
     the labeling of theism as religion and naturalism as science_that work to
     prevent a dangerous debate over fundamental assumptions from breaking
     out in the open. As the preceding chapter showed, however, these devices
     become transparent under the close inspection that an open debate tends to
     encourage. The best defense for modernist naturalism is to make sure the
     debate does not occur."{7}

    ***** This pamphlet, large font and wide margins and all, belongs with the
    rest of Johnson's writings - circular file. What 'debate'? Why should we
    waste time engaging slick showmen in public 'debates' where they will skirt
    the scientific issues and try to win sympathy from the audience by appealing
    to religion, as they ALWAYS do in these debates? What does that show -
    except that the average layperson has a much stronger grasp of their
    religious beliefs than they do of science.

     Johnson is quick to point out that there is not some giant conspiracy, but
     simply a way of thinking that dominates the culture, even the thinking of
     many Christians.
     Therefore, in the realm of science when considering the important question
     of the existence of a human mind, only the biochemical workings of the
     brain can be considered. Not because an immaterial reality has been
     disproved, but because it is outside the realm of materialistic science and
     therefore not worth discussing.
    ***** Actually, testing for the supernatural is impossible. Its worthiness
    for discussion is irrlevent - but it makes for good ol' religious pandering,
    so Johnson et al. say that ad infinitum. Maybe he - with his excellent grasp
    of all things scientific - can devise some tests for the supernatural.

    Allowing the discussion in the first place
     lays bare a discussion of fundamental assumptions, the very thing that is to
     be avoided.
     In education, "The goal is to produce self-defining adults who choose their
     own values and lifestyles from among a host of alternatives, rather than
     obedient children who follow a particular course laid down for them by
     their elders."{8}
    ***** LOL!!! Tell THAT to Suday school teachers! What a laugh! The irony
    is killing me....

    The reason, of course, is if God is outside the scientific
     discussion of origins, then how we should live must also exclude any
     absolute code of ethics. This also precludes the underlying assumptions
     from being discussed.
    **** That is because God is outside of the realm of scientific investigation.
     Johnson and Bohlin don't seem to grasp that.
     In law, naturalism has become the established constitutional philosophy.
     Rather than freedom of religion, the courts are moving to a freedom from
     religion. The major justification is that "religion" is irrational when it
     the domain of science or a violation of the first amendment in public
     education. "Under current conditions, excluding theistic opinions means
     giving a monopoly to naturalistic opinions on subjects like whether humans
     are created by God and whether sexual intercourse should be reserved for
     marriage."{9} What then are the strategies for breaking the monopoly?
     Can Darwinism Be Defeated?
     The main thing Christian parents and teachers can do is to teach young
     thinkers to understand the techniques of good thinking and help them tune
     up their baloney detectors so they aren't fooled by the stock answers the
     authorities give to the tough questions.{10}
    **** Yes - like 'God did it' - the stock answers given by the religious right
    when addressign scientific issues.

     So says Phillip Johnson in his recent book, Defeating Darwinism. (For a
     fuller review see Rick Wade's article, Defeating Darwinism: Phil Johnson
     Steals the Microphone.) Johnson is at his best here, relaying the many
     semantic and argumentative tricks used to cover up the inadequacies of
     Darwinism. In the chapter "Tuning Up Your Baloney Detector,"

    **** A theme stolen from the late Carl Sagan.... Brilliant man, that law

    Johnson introduces the reader to examples of the use of selective evidence,
     to authority, ad hominem arguments, straw man arguments, begging the
     question, and lack of testability.
    **** So he HAS read creationist books!

    This chapter will give you a good grasp of
     logical reasoning and investigative procedure.
     Johnson also explains the big picture of his strategy to weaken the
     stranglehold of Darwinism on the intellectual community. He calls it the
     wedge. Darwinism is compared to a log that seems impenetrable. Upon
     close investigation, a small crack is discovered. "The widening crack is the
     important but seldom recognized difference between the facts revealed by
     scientific investigation and the materialist philosophy that dominates the
     scientific culture."{11} In order to split the log, the crack needs to be
     widened. Inserting a triangular shaped wedge and driving the pointed end
     further into the log can do this. As the wedge is driven further into the
     the wider portions of the wedge begin widening the crack.
     Johnson sees his own books as the pointed end of the wedge, finding the
     crack and exposing its weaknesses. Other books in these initial efforts
     would certainly include the pioneering works of Henry Morris,{12} Duane
     Gish,{13} Charles Thaxton,{14} and even the agnostic Michael
    ***** Charlatans unite!
    Following close behind and fulfilling the role of further
     widening the crack are the works of J. P. Moreland,{16} Michael
     Behe,{17} and William Dembski.{18} What is needed now to widen the
     crack further and eventually split the log are larger numbers of theistic
     scientists, philosophers, and social scientists to fill in the ever widening
     portions of the wedge exposing the weaknesses of naturalistic assumptions
     across the spectrum of academic disciplines.
     Here Johnson's strategy meshes nicely with Probe Ministries. Much of our
     energy is spent educating young people in a Christian world view through
     Mind Games Conferences, the ProbeCenter in Austin, Texas, and our
     website ( We share with Johnson the joy of encouraging
     and opening doors for young people in the academic community. Johnson
     **** Gee - a ministry that also is scientific! Amazing!

    What a bore - so much misplaced hero-worship in one spot. The sad thing is,
    they don't even see how silly many of Johnson's arguments are....

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