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.


Phillip Johnson: Remembering Will Provine (1942-2015)

On this episode of ID the Future, Phillip Johnson, the godfather of the modern intelligent design movement and author of Darwin on Trial, shares memories of the late Will Provine. An historian of science and evolutionary biologist at Cornell University, Provine was a longtime interlocutor and friend of Johnson. Listen in as Johnson shares about guest lecturing in Provine’s evolutionary biology classes, remembers Provine’s unusual candidness about the atheistic implications of Darwinism, and recounts their 1994 public debate. Read Phillip Johnson’s reflections on Will Provine’s life on Evolution News and

Darwin on Trial 20th Anniversary: Phillip Johnson Looks Back and Forward

On this episode of ID The Future, we hear from Phillip Johnson on the 20th anniversary of his seminal book Darwin on Trial, which challenged mainstream beliefs about Darwinian evolution and inspired many scientists and scholars of the modern intelligent design movement. With characteristic wit and humor, Johnson talks about the reaction to his book and his hopes for the future of the debate and the ID movement. Johnson: “If we keep explaining the truth and adopting ever more creative ways of getting that truth across, as we are doing constantly, eventually more and more people come to see it and to understand it.” For more on Phillip Johnson’s work, including biography, videos, and articles, visit the new website Purchase the 20th

Phillip E. Johnson Replies to Nancey Murphy’s Review of Darwin on Trial

Excerpt from Reason in the Balance
Phillip E. Johnson replies in Reason in the Balance to Nancey Murphy’s review of Darwin on Trial. “In her review of Darwin on Trial, Murphy faults me for failing to evaluate Darwinism on Lakatosian criteria. She concedes that it is difficult to determine whether a program is progressive or degenerative. (If Catholic modernism is an example of a progressive program, I certainly see the difficulty.) Even specific examples are hard to classify Is the neutral theory of molecular evolution a stunning discovery of the Darwinian research program or an auxiliary hypothesis invented to protect the core concept of evolution by natural selection from falsification? Murphy eventually decides that the Lakatosian criteria are inapplicable to this case, because they are designed for relative

Dogmatic Signs

A Review of Signature in the Cell
For anyone who wants to understand the argument for the necessary role of intelligent design in the history of life, the indispensable source is now Stephen C. Meyers' book Signature in the Cell.

Atheist Crusaders

I have read Christopher Hitchens’s book God Is Not Great twice, in preparation for a book I have co-written with Biola University philosopher Dr. John Mark Reynolds. Due to come out this spring, our book is titled Against All Gods: What’s Right and Wrong About the “New Atheism.” Because not all readers may know at once who the new atheists are, I will say that they are a group of very fervent opponents of “religion,” of whom the best known are zoologist and science popularizer Richard Dawkins, Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett, and Hitchens. What is new about these atheists is not their arguments, which will be familiar to anyone who has read the classics of religious skepticism. The new element that has made these writers famous or notorious is

Against All Gods: What’s Right and Wrong about the New Atheism

Widely considered a founder of the contemporary intelligent design (ID) scientific movement, law professor and author Phillip Johnson’s 1991 book Darwin on Trial convinced many thinkers that neo-Darwinian evolution was based more on the philosophy of naturalism than on the scientific evidence. Now, Johnson has teamed up with John Mark Reynolds to write Against All Gods: What’s Right and Wrong about the New Atheism. More than just commentary on the actions and ideas of recent vociferous atheist thinkers, Johnson and Reynolds help us see the unique opportunity that presents itself. While their conclusions may be hasty and inaccurate, the new atheists are putting serious discussion about God back on the public agenda. Against All Gods equips readers with ways to engage this new,

Intelligent Design 101

Leading Experts Explain the Key Issues
Intelligent Design 101 brings together leading scholars and researchers from the fields of science and intelligent design studies, such as Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson. Their detailed and insightful essays form an introduction to intelligent design, from the basics of the theory, to its history and growing place in science and education.

PBS, Darwin and Dover: an Interview with Phillip Johnson 

On this episode of ID The Future, CSC’s Casey Luskin interviews Phillip Johnson (Jefferson E. Peyser Professor of Law, emeritus School of Law University of California, Berkeley) author of the bestseller Darwin on Trial, and one of the founders of the modern intelligent design movement. Johnson recently was interviewed for, and will be included in, NOVA’s program about the Dover intelligent design program, “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.” Johnson weighs in with his thoughts about the ruling issued by Judge Jones, about the scientific status of intelligent design, and his views on PBS’ teaching guide about intelligent design and whether or not it is injecting religion into the

Intelligent Design in Biology

The individuals who make up the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) came together in the aftermath of the publication of my book Darwin on Trial (Regnery 1991, IVP 1993). The defining purpose of the IDM is to advance the argument that neo-Darwinism has failed to explain the origin of the highly complex information systems and structures of living organisms, from the first cells to new body plans. This makes it reasonable to infer that the evidence of biology, if not the philosophy that dominates this science, suggests the need to consider that some intelligent cause may have played an indispensable role in the origin and development of life. The claim that evolutionary science has discovered and verified a mechanism which can account for the origin of biological information and

Darwin’s Nemesis

Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement
With the publication of Darwin on Trial in 1991, Cal Berkeley legal scholar Phillip Johnson became the leading figure in the intelligent design movement. Exposing and calling into question the philosophical foundations of Darwinism, Johnson led the charge against this largely unquestioned philosophy of materialistic reductionism and its purported basis in scientific research. This book reviews and celebrates the life and thought of Phillip Johnson and the movement for which he has served as chief architect. Editor William A. Dembski presents eighteen essays by those who have known and worked with Johnson for more than a decade. They provide personal and in-depth insight into the man, his convictions and his leadership of the intellectual movement that called into question the

Darwinism, Design, and Public Education

This balanced volume contains essays by both supporters and critics debating intelligent design and whether design should be allowed in public school science classes. The scholars approach the question from the standpoints of constitutional law, philosophy, rhetoric, education, and science.

The Right Questions

Truth, Meaning & Public Debate
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

Signs of Intelligence

Understanding Intelligent Design
A collection of essays from various scholars of the intelligent design movement explaining the precise meaning of the scientific theory of intelligent design. The essays threaten a wide variety of disciplines behind the curtain of Darwinism.

The Wedge of Truth

Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism
Science is the supreme authority in our culture. If there is a dispute, science arbitrates it. If a law is to be passed, science must ratify it. If truth is to be taught, science must approve it. And when science is ignored, storms of protest are heard in the media, in the university — even in local coffee shops. Yet a society ruled by science (and the naturalistic philosophy that undergirds much of it) faces major problems. Science speaks so authoritatively in our culture that many are tempted to use its clout to back claims that go beyond the available evidence. How can we spot when such ideological sleight-of-hand has taken place? More important, while we may learn a great deal from science, it does not offer us unlimited knowledge. In fact, most scientists readily acknowledge

Metaphysics Matters

Review of In Defense of Natural Law by Robert P. George (Clarendon/Oxford University Press)
In his influential book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins asserts that “Like successful Chicago gangsters our genes have survived . . . in a highly competitive world, . . . a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness.” Therefore, “We are survival machines-robot vehicles programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.” One might expect from this creation story that Dawkins would repudiate all notions of morality or free will, but not so. Like a Calvinist preacher denouncing the wiles of Satan, he exhorts his readers to robot rebellion. “Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance

Darwinism Defeated?

The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins
This volume contains a debate between design advocate Phillip E. Johnson and evolutionary biologist Denis Lamoureux, with commentary from other scholars in this debate. Though differing in opinion over evolution, all contributors are Christians who conduct the discussion in a civil manner. Dr. Lamoureux asks challenging questions of Johnson, asserting that Johnson’s position is based upon “God-of-the-gaps” type arguments. Lamoureax also challenges Johnson’s arguments on the fossil record, claiming that there are examples of transitional forms. Lamoureax ends by pressing Johnson to list “how many university-level courses you have successfully completed in biology, and could you be specific in your answer indicating what type of biology these