John Stonestreet on Remembering Phillip Johnson: The Man Who Put Darwin on Trial

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.


Reformation Day remembers how Martin Luther started a movement within the church that reshaped Christianity and the world. In many ways, Phillip E. Johnson was a Luther-like reformer who was willing to question accepted dogmas and challenge stagnant thinking, sparking a movement that will long outlast his life.

Johnson, who passed away peacefully in his home over the weekend, is widely considered the godfather of the modern Intelligent Design movement. His 1991 book “Darwin on Trial” revealed how Darwinian evolution was plagued by worldview-level problems: most importantly, its reliance on philosophical naturalism.

Before we go into what that is, it’s important to note that Johnson wasn’t a scientist. He was a law professor at, of all places, Cal-Berkeley. His legal training enabled him to both see and point out Darwinism’s flaws in a way that many scientists often couldn’t and sometimes wouldn’t, and his book refocused the origins debate to its most fundamental worldview question.

For 150 years, Darwinists had claimed that blind and undirected natural processes are sufficient not only to “create” life from chemicals, but to produce the dazzling variety of life we see in the world around us.

Johnson wasn’t buying it. He argued that the complexity and precision we see in nature was best explained by intelligence and purpose. After all, whenever we see a written text, we know it required an author. Whenever we experience a beautiful design, we realize there was a designer responsible for it. If that’s true across the world, it’s also true for the origin of the world.

Johnson’s arguments inspired and effectively launched what became known as the Intelligent Design movement, most notably seen in the Discovery Institute. As Casey Luskin put it, the idea of intelligent design became “a magnet [for] scholars from a variety of fields—biology, chemistry, physics, philosophy, theology, and law”—all of whom, like Johnson, saw Darwinism’s fatal reliance on naturalistic thinking.

Among them was biochemist Michael Behe, author of what may be the movement’s best-known book, “Darwin’s Black Box.” Behe would later confess that it wasn’t just Johnson’s arguments that drew him to the movement, it was also his attitude, his humble grace under pressure, and the near-religious zeal with which Darwinists attacked him.

Click here to read more.
Source: Christian Headlines