Posted by: William | May 18, 2008

Darwin on Trial

A few things before I get started. I’ve disabled comments on this post. Not for fear of disagreement, but because the general sway of critics on this topic is to to respond with no first hand knowledge of the book in discussion here. My suggestion to all will be that they pick up this book and read it, but that is especially my suggestion to you who vehemently disagree with my praise of this book. Please read the book before emailing me with criticisms.

darwinontrial I recently finished Phillip E. Johnson’s Darwin on Trial. And I will state outright, that this book should be read by many who accept Darwinian evolution simply on the bases that it is “widely accepted” or from the limited exposure we have received in grade school.

Simply for his skepticism, most serious supporters of Darwinism will chalk Johnson off as a creationist fundamentalist bent on mind control, without giving very much heed to his own testimony. Johnson is a “philosophical theist and a Christian. [He believes] that a God exists who could create out of nothing if He wanted to do so, but who might have chosen to work through a natural evolutionary process instead.” Through the rest of his text, Johnson makes little reference to intelligent design of any kind, except where discussing the scientific communities own actions. However, he makes no argument for another theory at all, simply a criticism of the existing one.

In the conclusion of his first chapter, Johnson describes himself as “not a scientist,” he states, “but an academic lawyer by profession, with a specialty in analyzing the logic of arguments and identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments.” This is the skill most clearly employed through the course of his book. Beginning with a linguistic discussion of the word “science” and what exactly it means according to various official statements. Johnson makes a compelling argument about the legal setting of scientific terms which reveal a bias that actually limits scientific integrity more than supporting it.

Johnson doesn’t shy away from the very specific discussion of the evidence supporting Darwinism. He spends about the first half of his book discussing natural selection, fossil records, mutations, molecular evidence and more, peppered throughout. But the other half of the book begins a critique of the scientific community at large; with Darwinism as a centerpiece.

Some of Johnson’s most compelling discussion involves the difference between empirical science and philosophical science—Darwinism falls largely in the latter. However, we have a difference here that the general public knows nothing about and because of philosophical reasoning, shouldn’t know anything about.

Johnson writes clearly and effectively and so that everyone can understand. The book is divided into 154 pages and twelve chapters. That leaves each chapter short enough that you don’t need a great commitment to the book to work through it. Johnson has a manner of writing that, although he is discussion relatively dry material, we never find ourselves especially bored.

Most Americans view the scientific community remembering the scientific method from back in grade school. Remember? Problem, research, hypothesis, experimentation, hypothesis test, analysis, conclusions. This is not big science; it is sometimes, but not all the time, but we don’t see the difference—it all gets labeled science. Perhaps the populous shouldn’t rely so heavily on the science community for its truth.

Because the book speaks clearly for itself, and for fear of misrepresenting it, I’ve intentionally stayed away from Johnson’s specific critiques of the science community and of Darwinism. I recommend this book to all. It’s easy to read, easy to understand, and affordably priced.

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