Phillip Johnson

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Phillip E. Johnson (* 18th June 1940 in Aurora , Illinois , † 2. November 2019 in Berkeley , California ) was an American professor of law and author.

He is considered the father of the intelligent design movement , which combats the theory of evolution and postulates a superior supernatural intelligence as the origin of biological information .


Johnson earned a bachelor's degree in English literature from Harvard University in 1961 . He studied law at the University of Chicago . He was an employee of the Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren . Johnson taught law at the University of California, Berkeley from 1967 to 2000.

Although Johnson had no formal training in the life sciences, he became a prominent critic of the theory of evolution. He popularized the term intelligent design in its current meaning in his 1991 book Darwin Cross-Examined .

He criticized naturalism and advocated a philosophy for which he coined the term theistic realism . He has authored several books on criminal law and on legal, philosophical and educational issues in connection with the dispute between supporters and opponents of the theory of evolution.

Johnson was an elder in the Presbyterian Church .

Evolution and Intelligent Design in the Public Education System

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Johnson set out some of the philosophical foundations of education policy:

The root of the problem is that science has two different definitions in our culture. On the one hand, science denotes a method of investigation that includes things like careful measurements, repeatable experimentation, and especially a skeptical, unbiased attitude that insists that all claims must be carefully checked. Science is now also identified with a philosophy known as materialism or scientific naturalism. This philosophy insists that nature is all there is, or at least the only thing we can know about. ... Students are not expected to approach this philosophy with unprejudiced skepticism, but rather to believe it on the basis of trust.

Johnson advocated the policy of Teach the Controversy . Proponents of this approach advocate teaching both the theory of evolution in the public school system and, in parallel, what creationists call evolutionary criticism, a set of arguments put together by them which, on superficial examination, suggests that the theory of evolution is implausible.

He was interviewee in the documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial .

Christian publicist

In addition to advocating his public education goals, Johnson has been a speaker in Christian circles on issues of apologetics and evangelization . Johnson believed that an "honest" investigation into the facts must lead unbiased observers to Christian truth. He was firmly against indoctrination of atheists in order to make them Christians and spoke out against the suppression of scientific facts and arguments that seem to run counter to Christian teaching.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Fred Sanders: Phillip E. Johnson, Who Put Darwin on Trial, Dies at 79. In: The Gospel Coalition , November 5, 2019 (English). Retrieved November 8, 2019.