The Right Questions

Truth, Meaning & Public DebatePhillip E. Johnson

An ECPA 2003 Gold Medallion Finalist! Phillip E. Johnson pries the lid off public debate about questions of ultimate concern — questions often suppressed by our society’s intellectual elite. Moving far beyond matters of creation and evolution, Johnson outlines the questions we all ought to be asking about the meaning of human history, the limits of scientific inquiry, religion and education in a pluralistic society, truth, liberty and moral choices, and God and His Word, Jesus Christ. Johnson deftly demonstrates how the reigning naturalistic philosophy not only squelches public debate but also constrains us to ask the wrong questions. Unless we start with the right questions, Johnson argues, our discussions will be framed by the assumptions of that very philosophy which must be challenged. Johnson asserts that even the Christian church has much too often passively accepted this limiting frame of mind to the detriment of all. But Christian faith and conviction instead ought to lead in opening up the search for truth and meaning through the kind of public education that “teaches in controversy.” Then all of us will be prepared to engage in lively, informed and civil debate about the questions that really matter. 

  • Why is it always wrong to mix science and religion?
  • What is the ultimate premise, the beginning point, from which logic should proceed?
  • How can a college education prepare students to understand the ultimate purpose or meaning for which life should be lived and to choose rightly from among the available possibilities?
  • What is the appropriate understanding of religion in a pluralistic nation where substantial numbers of Christians, agnostics, Jews and Muslims all need to live together in peace?
  • How can democratic liberalism remain viable when severed from its Christian roots?
  • What is the most important event in human history?

Provocative, personal, persuasive and prophetic, Johnson is certain to help us break free from our intellectual and spiritual captivity.


Here are words of combat-hardened wisdom from a veteran of the intellectual wars. Phillip Johnson obviously relishes the battle and, just as obviously, understands himself to be a servant of the truth and a witness to the One who is the way, the truth and the life.

(The Rev.) Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things

Phillip Johnson tackles here some of the most pressing issues we are facing today. He writes in the interrogative mood not as an ‘answer man’ with pre-packaged solutions on offer but as an honest searcher seeking how best to pose the questions. A wonderful primer for Christian thinkers!

Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“As Phillip Johnson writes movingly about his stroke and recovery, it’s clear that God has given him a great heart to go along with his great mind–and this book asks the questions that can help others see that their hearts are two sizes too small. It’s full of discussion starters; for example, why don’t researchers examine whether those long lives in chapter 5 of Genesis could have occurred? For those who have looked for intellectual satisfaction in all the wrong places, The Right Questions can be a fresh start.

Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-chief, World

With The Right Questions Phil Johnson hits bedrock; he establishes us on a firm foundation and equips us to analyze and respond to the prevalent confusion with clarity and decisiveness. If we can’t clone him, perhaps we can imitate him and acquire his skill with logic, persuasion and truth.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

In The Right Questions the leader of the intelligent design movement broadens his critique of Darwinism into an attack on numerous well-known social and political attitudes. And he weaves into his polemics an account of a great personal trial and its impact on his Christian faith. The result is a uniquely provocative and interesting book. Many readers will disagree with the author on one point or another. There are very few, however, who will not find themselves thinking seriously about matters they have not thought about before.

Glenn Tinder, Professor of Political Science Emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Boston