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Darwin On Trial

Phillip E. Johnson

Darwin on Trial was responsible for alerting many among the public and in the scientific community to the deficiencies of Darwinism. UC Berkeley Law Professor and Program Advisor for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, Phillip E. Johnson applies his skills as an analyzer of evidence to ask if Darwin’s theory holds up to scrutiny.

Johnson begins by recognizing a stark contradiction in the law: creationism has been banned by the courts because it is “religion,” yet evolution is permitted despite the fact that evolutionary literature is full of anti-religious arguments. Johnson might be willing to tolerate this hypocrisy if evolution proves correct. But he argues that when natural selection proves to be a tautology, whose empirical power has proven to cause little more than oscillations in the sizes of finch beaks, he has just cause to be skeptical.

When looking at the fossil record, Johnson finds a landscape starkly lacking in evidence of evolutionary transitions but rich in stasis (i.e. no significant change in a given biological form). The few which are allegedly called “transitional” do little to tip the scales in favor of evolution. Molecular evidence for evolution turns out to be based upon assumptions, and molecular evolutionary intermediates are beyond the reach of scientific investigation. Finally, Johnson reveals that the evidence for prebiological evolution is contradicted by geochemistry.

Evolution clearly loses a trial based upon the evidence. Why then does the jury of the scientific community overwhelmingly vote in favor of Darwin’s theory? Johnson argues that Darwinism is propped up by a question-begging definition of science, one that requires naturalistic causes in keeping with the philosophy of naturalism.

Though many volumes by design proponents have covered similar topics, none summarizes the range of evidence against evolution and its philosophical underpinnings more lucidly or succinctly than Darwin on Trial.

Phillip E. Johnson

Former Program Advisor, Center for Science and Culture
Phillip E. Johnson taught law for more than thirty years at the University of California — Berkeley where he was professor emeritus until his passing in 2019. He was recognized as a leading spokesman for the intelligent design movement, and was the author of many books, including Darwin on Trial, Reason in the Balance and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds.