Meet Phillip Johnson

Born in 1940 in Aurora, Illinois, Phillip Johnson was a brainy kid whose primary goal was getting out of town. So when Harvard University accepted his application for admission while he was still a junior in high school, he leaped at the opportunity! After graduation, he taught school in rural Kenya before returning to America and enrolling in the University of Chicago law school.

He graduated at the top of his class, then went on to clerk for Chief Justice Roger Traynor of the California Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court before becoming a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. But he stumbled across an even stronger calling while on a sabbatical in England. His daily walks past a scientific bookstore got him interested in titles about Darwin’s theory of evolution. Soon, he was consumed with the topic, devouring every book, article, and research paper he could get his hands on. From the beginning, he found the theories of naturalistic evolution unconvincing.

His continued studies led to the publication of his own book on the subject, Darwin on Trial, a controversial title that attacked the faulty arguments and "evidence" behind contemporary Darwinism. Johnson was undeterred by the resulting storm of criticism from major scientific publications. In fact, he’s more than willing to take the heat from the scientific establishment if that clears the way for others to speak out, particularly scientists. Johnson’s works—including Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law, and Education; Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds; and Objections Sustained: Subversive Essays on Evolution, Law and Culture— have led to symposiums at such noted universities as Stanford, Harvard, Chicago, Cornell, SMU, and Texas. He’s exchanged views with important scientists and philosophers, including Michael Ruse, Stephen Jay Gould, William Provine, and Steven Weinberg. And he has inspired evolution skeptics within the scientific community to present their own works, like Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe (author of the best-selling Darwin’s Black Box).

A lifelong agnostic until friends invited him to church (where he met his second wife, Katharine, another adult convert), Johnson has no doubt that the "intellectual superstitions" of Darwin’s theories will eventually fade away. As he said in a 1999 interview with Jeff Lawrence for Communiqué: A Quarterly Journal, "A couple of centuries from now, you won’t hear about Charles Darwin except in courses on British intellectual history, Marx will have been forgotten, Freud will be a footnote to history, but Jesus Christ will still be a prominent part of the culture, and the gospels will still be read and preached."

Johnson's recent works include Objections Sustained: Subversive Essays on Evolution, Law, and Culture, in which he attacks several hot topics in modern culture; The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism, The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Law and Culture, and The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning, and a Public Debate, in which Johnson calls for open dialogue about ultimate concerns.

Phillip Johnson is the father of two children, Emily and Thomas. He and his wife make their home in Berkeley, California.

(Most of the information for this profile was adapted from "The Making of a Revolution" by Tim Stafford, which appeared in the December 8, 1997 issue of Christianity Today.)

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