August 1, 2003 - Generations of American schoolchildren have been taught that Darwin's theory of evolution is the explanation for the origin of life—regardless of what they might have learned in Sunday school. Yet according to law professor and author Phillip E. Johnson, this modern-day mantra of science classes is little more than a dogma of materialism. In his books "Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds," "Darwin on Trial," "Reason in the Balance" and others, Johnson defends the truth with the intellectual clout that earned him a prestigious seat at the University of California, Berkeley, yet with a humility that can only come from knowing the Creator one-on-one. Here, he talks candidly with "Decision" on the topic he is most passionate about—dismantling Darwinism.
by Jim Dailey
Q: The Ohio Board of Education recently ruled that public schools in that state can now discuss controversies surrounding the theory of evolution. Why do you think so many leading educators fought to keep such debate out of the classroom?
A: It's a good question. You would think the Darwinists would be glad to teach the controversy as a matter of educational policy. According to public opinion polls, most of the nation has serious doubts about the truth of the evolutionary theory. Why don't the educators want to address those doubts seriously? They are afraid to acknowledge that there are any doubts that matter. Real scientists, they say, believe without any doubt in the theory of evolution. But in Ohio we had petitions signed by dozens of well-credentialed scientists saying that this area of study should be opened up to freedom of thought. Science should not be committed to a dogma—much less a dogma that is in serious trouble with the evidence—but should freely acknowledge areas of doubt and should address them honestly.
Q: Through your books and lectures, you've become known as someone who has worked hard to bring together different factions of the creationist movement.
A: My policy is to concentrate on the first issue: What scientific evidence points toward or away from the need for a Creator? Does the evidence of science really show that Darwin's force of natural selection is so powerful that nature can do its own creating and that there is no need for God? That's the philosophical doctrine the Darwinists propose, but my colleagues and I have shown that it is not true. The evidence, as opposed to the scientific imperialism, points to the fact that natural selection has no creative power and that the Creator is very much needed. So if we concentrate on that issue first, then we can get to other issues that are somewhat divisive within the Christian world. I have done that by saying, "Let's be careful that we start with the correct Scripture."
The best place to start is not with Genesis 1 and the six days of creation, arguing about how long those days may have been. That immediately gets people into an issue that divides believers. The best place to start is with the Scripture that teaches the meaning of creation rather than the timetable: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1, NIV).
Q: That allows you to discuss the bigger picture of creation.
A: Right. We ask, "What is life, anyway? Is it just matter that is changing by natural processes?" No, that's not so at all. The biological cell, for example, the fundamental unit of biology, is a masterpiece of miniaturized complexity so intricate that it makes a super computer or a spaceship look rather low-tech. It's like a whole city with its own energy transportation, its own fire and police departments, its own hospital—all working together in marvelous harmony. Obviously, there is some intelligence in the cell. You might call it a program that ties all this together and keeps it working for the common good of the organism. The Darwinist theory has no explanation for the origin of this cell. Even the most eminent biologist will admit that to you. So they are stopped right at the beginning. They do claim that you can make some changes in nature by means of random variation or gene mutation and natural selection—the survival of the fittest. And, within limits, that's true. Their claim is not altogether false, but it is true only at a very trivial level. It doesn't explain any significant change in the biological world.
Q: How, then, did our culture accept such illogical reasoning as definitive and true, so much so that it became the mantra of science education?
A: To explain that, I would start with another Scripture: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20, NIV). It is not that people don't have clear pointers to the true God; it is that they don't want to recognize Him as God. They want to substitute another god—an idol—that they can control. An idol is simply a man-made god, a man-controlled god.
Paul uses the example of little figures of birds or beasts. In our day, the idols tend to be theories that come from the human mind. The theory of evolution is the latest fashion in idols. This myth of Darwinian evolution has helped a certain class of people to become wealthy and powerful and to be able to control the whole culture. They are mostly not scientists; they are the rulers of science and culture—the ones who decide how science will be presented to the public through television and elite newspapers. Science is extremely profitable to them. That's why they spend all their efforts and resources making sure everybody believes their particular creation story and no one is allowed to consider another one. It also explains why those of us who challenge that power can expect not just a lot of criticism but downright abuse.
Q: Describe the premise and process of intelligent design.
A: The premise of intelligent design is that the evidence of science, understood impartially, points to the need for an intelligence. This is shown in two particular ways. First, there is the irreducible complexity of living organisms, like the biological cell. This is best explained in the book "Darwin's Black Box" by my friend and colleague, biochemist Michael Behe. He shows the incredible complexity of each cell and the systems that require many complex parts to work. If you're missing one part, you don't get an almost-perfect system; you get no system at all. Any creative process would have to produce everything all at once. The Darwinian says that you produce one thing that has some function, and then you add on another one and another and so on until you get the complete cell. Each step is supposedly superior to the last. But irreducible complexity makes that impossible. That is the first feature.
The second feature of living organisms is that they contain what is known as complex specific information. To explain that, just think of a book like an encyclopedia or a computer program like Windows 98. Computer programs don't write themselves; they need computer engineers. A computer program has a very complex set of instructions. Richard Dawkins, the arch Darwinist promoter and atheist, admits forthrightly that a single cell in your body has more information in it than all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica put together. That information is what coordinates the activities of the cell. Now, you know how impossible it would be to produce an encyclopedia by mixing letters at random until they came together in a certain way.
Neither of these things can be explained by the Darwinian theory. They don't even try to explain them; all they do is huff and puff and bluff and say, "You're not allowed to challenge our scientific fact." This dogma is not science at all. None of it has been demonstrated by experiment, which is what would have to happen for it to be truly scientific.
Q: How did God draw you to salvation in Christ?
A: I became a Christian the way most people do—I was dissatisfied with my life without Christ. I had been happily married, I thought. But then my marriage went bad. I was also dissatisfied with my life as a professor of law. I'm a pretty hard case; the Lord had to work on me longer than most people. I became a Christian, even a very active one, and yet something still wasn't complete. My Christian conversion wasn't complete until I suffered a debilitating stroke in July 2001. That experience shattered me. Lying in a hospital bed, I heard a friend singing the hymn that says, "on Christ the solid Rock I stand," and I wondered, "Am I really standing with both feet on that solid Rock? Maybe I still have one foot on the shifting sand. Maybe I'm still relying too heavily on my brain—the brain that got me out of public school into Harvard University, then to the position of law clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and professor at the University of California." I think that's what I really relied on. But after the stroke, I didn't know what was going to become of me. Was I ever going to be able to lecture or write again? I had to determine where my ultimate reliance was placed. Sometimes we have to lose everything else before we can really see where our Rock of Salvation is.
Q: At the pinnacle of your arguments against Darwin's theory is the reality that there is a Creator God whom we can know.
A: Yes. Some people don't want to see it because they are afraid it would mean a loss of their power. They want to be their own God. They think that naturalism offers them maximum power and freedom. It doesn't. Romans 1:20 makes that very clear. They turn away because they do not want to honor the true God as God. So they turn to gods of their own making, false gods. That is what idolatry is all about. Idolatry is what our present culture is all about. Sex is an idol and science is an idol. When science becomes an idol, it's always bad science, and that's what we're getting.