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Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds

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By Phillip Johnson
132 page paperback

Defeating Darwinism: By opening minds provides a new and powerful treatment of these issues for high-school students, parents, teachers, pastors, youth advisors, and ordinary readers. Johnson aims not just to defeat a bad theory, but to defeat it the right way; by opening minds to the truth.

With all of the complicated scientific debate swirling around the topic of evolution, is there an easy way to understand the basic issues without oversimplifying? Phillip Johnson says there is: the key to defeating the false claims of Darwinism is to open our minds to good thinking habits. Here is first-rate advice on avoiding common mistakes in discussions about evolution, understanding the legacy of the Scopes trial, spotting deceptive arguments, and grasping the basic scientific issues without getting bogged down in unnecessary details. In his two previous bestselling books, Johnson exposed in careful detail the misleading claims of evolutionary naturalism.



Today, Evolution is commonly defined as a scientific theory proposed by Charles Darwin to explain the diversity of life on earth. According to it its proponents, Darwinian evolution casts no judgment on religion and makes no claims about the existence of God. Is this really true? Does evolution deal only with the scientific facts, or are there certain philosophical assumptions behind Darwinian Evolution? In Defeating Darwinism former Berkeley Law Professor Phillip E. Johnson accurately asserts that Darwinian Evolution is not science; but a philosophical worldview based on naturalism. He then provides a well-researched and well-written basis for this assertion.

According to Johnson, the creation/evolution conflict is not a debate between religion and science; rather, it is a philosophical argument between two different worldviews. Johnson also introduces his "strategy for truth" which can be put into action to crack the ideals of philosophical naturalism that permeate the scientific culture of today.

Chapter 1 primer

The first chapter begins with a letter written by Emilio, a college student at a European university. Emilio’s goal in the letter is to demonstrate how two seemingly opposing viewpoints, Biblical Creation and Darwinian Evolution, can be compromised to complement each other. The letter explains how Emilio grew up as a Christian who was taught to believe in a literal Genesis but then went off to a secular university and soon learned that his religious beliefs are at odds with the accepted science.

He is not the first young person to face this and he will certainly not be the last. The most commonly made argument for this position is the idea that the Bible and science contradict each other, one is testable and the other is not. Since Evolution falls into the category of testable science the other must be compromised to make the two cohesive. Johnson explains this is not so, the argument is between two philosophical worldviews-not science and religion. Johnson explains that, “Evolutionary naturalists rely on a cultural stereotype to shut off all criticism of their philosophy. The stereotype portrays all opponents as extreme genesis literalists who reject the evidence of science for purely religious reasons. As long as the conflict is perceived this way, the grave scientific defects, and the philosophical bias that sustain it, can be effectively concealed from view.” Johnson goes on to explain that science in this day and age has a philosophical bias that needs to be exposed. On one hand science is empirical, that is, it is based on observation and testing to confirm what is predicted. On the other hand modern science is naturalistic. Meaning, it is assumed by the scientists that there exist totally naturalistic explanations for this universe and all of its contents. This of course is something that can never be absolutely proven as it is impossible to demonstrate empirically that there is no designer that is responsible for this world.

Key points

-In describing what the scientific establishment has become, Johnson says:

"History has taught us that an established religion tends to fall into bad habits, and the same thing may be true when a scientific establishment starts to act like a governmental body with an official ideology to uphold. The price of having that kind of position is that you are tempted to protect your power and wealth by defending things you shouldn't be defending, with methods (like doubletalk and threats of legal action) that you shouldn't be using. these become bad habits, and they eventually lead you into massive hypocrisy and self-deception. When you preach baloney detection as the essential tool of science but make students turn their baloney detectors off when they get to the really important questions of origins, you convict yourselves every day of hypocrisy. You also lose the ability to think critically about your own beliefs, and eventually you set yourself up for the kind of embarrassment that destroyed Matthew Harrison Brady." (pg. 55)

-Johnson's coverage of the Scopes monkey trial is concise and informative. He briefly introduces the case and then shows how it is typically used to support the science vs. religion stereotype. Including the Scopes case as a real world example of his thesis, that the origins debate is worldview vs. worldview, adds definition to his argument.

-This is the perfect book for the person who has seen this debate raging in the courts and in the news, yet has very little knowledge of the subject. Johnson's work will really open people's eyes to the fact that there are philosophical assumptions on both sides of the argument. When the creation/evolution debate is viewed in this light, people can begin to understand why there is controversy in the first place and why they need to be involved.