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Phillip E. Johnson

Phillip E. Johnson

Overview
Phillip E. Johnson is a retired UC Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 professor and author. He became a born-again Christian while a tenured professor and is considered the father of the intelligent design movement
Intelligent design movement
The intelligent design movement is a neo-creationist religious campaign for broad social, academic and political change to promote and support the idea of "intelligent design," which asserts that "certain features of the universe and of living things are...

. A critic of what he calls "Darwinism" and "scientific materialism", Johnson rejects evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 in favor of neocreationist views known as intelligent design
Intelligent design
Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...

.

He was a co-founder of the Discovery Institute
Discovery Institute
The Discovery Institute is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of intelligent design...

's Center for Science and Culture
Center for Science and Culture
The Center for Science and Culture , formerly known as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture , is part of the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank in the United States...

 (CSC) and is credited with establishing the wedge Strategy
Wedge strategy
The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document, which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose...

, which aims to change public opinion and scientific consensus
Scientific consensus
Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity. Scientific consensus is not by itself a scientific argument, and it is not part of the...

, and seeks to convince the scientific community
Scientific community
The scientific community consists of the total body of scientists, its relationships and interactions. It is normally divided into "sub-communities" each working on a particular field within science. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method...

 to allow a role for God in scientific theory (a position he terms theistic realism
Theistic realism
Theistic science, also referred to as theistic realism, Augustinian science or Islamic science is the viewpoint that methodological naturalism should be replaced by a philosophy of science that is informed by supernatural revelation and/or allows occasional supernatural explanations. The viewpoint...

).
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Quotations

This [the intelligent design movement] isn't really, and never has been, a debate about science, it's about religion and philosophy.

World Magazine, 30 November 1996

If we understand our own times, we will know that we should affirm the reality of God by challenging the domination of materialism and naturalism in the world of the mind. With the assistance of many friends I have developed a strategy for doing this. ... We call our strategy the "Wedge strategy|wedge."

Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, 1997, pp. 91-92

The Intelligent Design movement starts with the recognition that "In the beginning was the Word," and "In the beginning God created." Establishing that point isn't enough, but it is absolutely essential to the rest of the gospel message.

Forword to Creation, Evolution, & Modern Science (2000)

We are removing the most important cultural roadblock to accepting the role of God as creator.

Los Angeles Times (25 March 2001)

The subject is not just the theory of evolution, the subject is the reality of God.

Hank Hanegraaf's "Bible Answer Man" radio program (19 December 2001)

We're not trying to prove the character of God through science. That's a bad idea. What I'm trying to do is clear away the misunderstandings, the debris that prevent people from accepting that God who wants to accept them.

Hank Hanegraaf's "Bible Answer Man" radio program (19 December 2001)

Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.

American Family Radio (10 January 2003)
Encyclopedia
Phillip E. Johnson is a retired UC Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 professor and author. He became a born-again Christian while a tenured professor and is considered the father of the intelligent design movement
Intelligent design movement
The intelligent design movement is a neo-creationist religious campaign for broad social, academic and political change to promote and support the idea of "intelligent design," which asserts that "certain features of the universe and of living things are...

. A critic of what he calls "Darwinism" and "scientific materialism", Johnson rejects evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 in favor of neocreationist views known as intelligent design
Intelligent design
Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...

.

He was a co-founder of the Discovery Institute
Discovery Institute
The Discovery Institute is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of intelligent design...

's Center for Science and Culture
Center for Science and Culture
The Center for Science and Culture , formerly known as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture , is part of the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank in the United States...

 (CSC) and is credited with establishing the wedge Strategy
Wedge strategy
The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document, which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose...

, which aims to change public opinion and scientific consensus
Scientific consensus
Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity. Scientific consensus is not by itself a scientific argument, and it is not part of the...

, and seeks to convince the scientific community
Scientific community
The scientific community consists of the total body of scientists, its relationships and interactions. It is normally divided into "sub-communities" each working on a particular field within science. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method...

 to allow a role for God in scientific theory (a position he terms theistic realism
Theistic realism
Theistic science, also referred to as theistic realism, Augustinian science or Islamic science is the viewpoint that methodological naturalism should be replaced by a philosophy of science that is informed by supernatural revelation and/or allows occasional supernatural explanations. The viewpoint...

). As a member of the group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis, a prominent AIDS denialist group, Johnson has written that HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 does not cause AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

. Most of the scientific community dismisses Johnson's opinions on evolution and AIDS as pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

.

Biography


Johnson was born in Aurora, Illinois
Aurora, Illinois
Aurora is the second most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois, and the 112th largest city in the United States. A suburb of Chicago, located west of the Loop, its population in 2010 was 197,899. Originally founded within Kane County, Aurora's city limits have expanded greatly over the past...

 in 1940. He received a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree in English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

, from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 in 1961. He studied law at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, graduating top of his class. He served as a law clerk for the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court Earl Warren
Earl Warren
Earl Warren was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.He is known for the sweeping decisions of the Warren Court, which ended school segregation and transformed many areas of American law, especially regarding the rights of the accused, ending public-school-sponsored prayer, and requiring...

 and Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Roger Traynor. He is an emeritus professor of law at Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

, where he served on the active faculty from 1967 to 2000. Johnson has served as deputy district attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

  and has held visiting professorships at Emory University
Emory University
Emory University is a private research university in metropolitan Atlanta, located in the Druid Hills section of unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The university was founded as Emory College in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia by a small group of Methodists and was named in honor of...

 and at University College, London.

Johnson became a born-again Christian following a divorce, and later became an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Presbyterian Church , or PC, is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States. Part of the Reformed tradition, it is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S...

. Johnson recounts that on sabbatical in England he sought, through prayer, inspiration for what he should do with the rest of his life, and then received an epiphany
Epiphany (feeling)
An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something...

 after he read Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins
Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

' The Blind Watchmaker
The Blind Watchmaker
The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design is a 1986 book by Richard Dawkins in which he presents an explanation of, and argument for, the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. He also presents arguments to refute certain criticisms made on...

and Michael Denton
Michael Denton
Michael John Denton is a British-Australian author and biochemist. In 1973, Denton received his PhD in Biochemistry from King's College London.-Biography:...

's Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis is a 1985 book by Michael Denton in which he claims that the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection is a "theory in crisis"...

. Despite having no formal background in biology, he has become a prominent critic of evolutionary theory.

Johnson popularized the term "intelligent design" in his 1991 book, Darwin on Trial
Darwin on Trial
Darwin on Trial is a 1991 book about the theory of evolution and the creation-evolution debate. It was written by Harvard graduate and University of California, Berkeley law professor emeritus Phillip E. Johnson...

.
He remains one of the best known advocates for intelligent design, and is considered the founder of the Intelligent Design Movement. He is a critic of methodological naturalism, the basic principle of science that restricts it to the investigation of natural causes for observable phenomena, and espouses a philosophy he has coined theistic realism. He is the author of several books on intelligent design, science, philosophy, and religion, as well as textbooks on criminal law
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

. He has appeared on various programs such as PBS's Firing Line
Firing Line
Firing Line was an American public affairs show founded and hosted by conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. Its 1,504 episodes over 33 years made Firing Line the longest-running public affairs show in television history with a single host...

 and NOVA
NOVA (TV series)
Nova is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries...

's Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.

Since 2001, Johnson has suffered a series of minor right brain strokes. His rehabilitations have limited his public activities and participation in the debate on intelligent design, because of both their physical effects and Johnson's belief that they were signs from God urging him to spend more time with his faith and family and less in "prideful debate". In 2004 he was awarded the inaugural "Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth" by Biola University
Biola University
Biola University is a private, evangelical Christian, liberal arts university located near Los Angeles. Biola's main campus is in La Mirada in Los Angeles County, California. In addition, the university has several satellite campuses in Chino Hills, Inglewood, San Diego, and Laguna Hills.-...

, a private evangelical Christian college noted for its promotion of intelligent design. Phillip Johnson has two children and lives with his wife in Berkeley, California
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

.

In 2006 Nancey Murphy
Nancey Murphy
Nancey Murphy is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA. She received the B.A. from Creighton University in 1973, the Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in 1980, and the Th.D...

, a religious scholar at Fuller Theological Seminary‎, stated she faced a campaign to get her fired after she expressed her view that intelligent design was not only poor theology, but "so stupid, I don't want to give them my time." Murphy, who accepts the validity of evolution, said that Johnson called a trustee in an attempt to get her fired and stated "His tactic has always been to fight dirty when anyone attacks his ideas". Johnson admits calling the trustee, but denies any responsibility for action taken against her. He said: "It's the Darwinists who hold the power in academia and who threaten the professional status and livelihoods of anyone who disagrees... They feel to teach anything but their orthodoxy is an act of professional treason." Murphy had previously criticized Johnson's book Darwin on Trial for being "dogmatic and unconvincing", primarily because "he does not adequately understand scientific reasoning."

During the 1990s Johnson engaged in AIDS denialism, challenging the scientific consensus that HIV tests do not detect HIV, AIDS statistics are grossly exaggerated and that HIV is the cause of AIDS. writing several articles about the subject, including a piece in Reason
Reason (magazine)
Reason is a libertarian monthly magazine published by the Reason Foundation. The magazine has a circulation of around 60,000 and was named one of the 50 best magazines in 2003 and 2004 by the Chicago Tribune.- History :...

. He was one of the 12 founding members of the "Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis" and signatory to the group's letter to the editor of Science
Science (journal)
Science is the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is one of the world's top scientific journals....

asserting that HIV is only tautologically associated with AIDS and that HIV tests are inaccurate.

Johnson has stated in an interview that he believed "the strength of America is not in its towers or in its battleships, it's in its faith. Of course, I said that, but I wasn't sure it was really true anymore. This isn't the same country we were in the previous decades." Johnson said the U.S. was "cringing in fear" of what he called "Muslim terrorists" after September 11 attacks and that professors were afraid to discuss it "because they're afraid of what the Muslim students will do. They're afraid it won't keep the peace on campus. I never thought our country would descend to this level. We are afraid to search the truth and to proclaim it. We once knew who the true God was and were able to proclaim it frankly. But since about 1960 we've been hiding from that. We've been trying to pretend that all religions are the same."

Intelligent design



Johnson is best known as one of the founders of the intelligent design movement, principal architect of the Wedge Strategy, author of the Santorum Amendment
Santorum Amendment
The Santorum Amendment was an amendment to the 2001 education funding bill which became known as the No Child Left Behind Act, proposed by former Republican United States Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania, which promotes the teaching of intelligent design while questioning the academic...

, and one of the ID movement's most prolific authors. Johnson is co-founder and program advisor of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture
Center for Science and Culture
The Center for Science and Culture , formerly known as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture , is part of the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank in the United States...

 (CSC). Johnson has advocated strongly in the public and political spheres for the teaching of intelligent design as preferable to the teaching of evolution, which Johnson characterizes as "atheistic
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

" and "falsified by all of the evidence" and whose "logic is terrible". In portraying the philosophy of science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

, and by extension its theories such as evolution as atheistic, Johnson argues that a more valid alternative is "theistic realism". Theistic realism asserts that science, by relying upon methodological naturalism, demands an a priori
A priori and a posteriori (philosophy)
The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish two types of knowledge, justifications or arguments...

 adoption of a naturalistic philosophy that wrongly dismisses out of hand any explanation that contains a supernatural cause.

Johnson rejects common descent
Common descent
In evolutionary biology, a group of organisms share common descent if they have a common ancestor. There is strong quantitative support for the theory that all living organisms on Earth are descended from a common ancestor....

 and does not take a position on the age of the Earth. These concepts are a common theme in his books, including Darwin on Trial
Darwin on Trial
Darwin on Trial is a 1991 book about the theory of evolution and the creation-evolution debate. It was written by Harvard graduate and University of California, Berkeley law professor emeritus Phillip E. Johnson...

,
Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, and The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism. Eugenie Scott
Eugenie Scott
Eugenie Carol Scott is an American physical anthropologist who has been the executive director of the National Center for Science Education since 1987...

 wrote that Darwin on Trial "teaches little that is accurate about either the nature of science, or the topic of evolution. It is recommended neither by scientists nor educators." Working through the Center for Science and Culture
Center for Science and Culture
The Center for Science and Culture , formerly known as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture , is part of the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank in the United States...

 Johnson wrote the early draft language of the Santorum Amendment, which encouraged a "Teach the Controversy
Teach the Controversy
Teach the Controversy is the name of a Discovery Institute campaign to promote intelligent design, a variant of traditional creationism, while attempting to discredit evolution in United States public high school science courses...

" approach to evolution in public school education, a theme now common to the intelligent design movement.

Nancy Pearcey
Nancy Pearcey
Nancy Randolph Pearcey is an American evangelical author on the Christian worldview.-Career:Pearcey was the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar for several years at the World Journalism Institute. In September 2007, Pearcey was named Scholar for Worldview Studies at the Center for University Studies at...

, a Center for Science and Culture fellow and Johnson associate, credits Johnson's leadership of the intelligent design movement in two of her most recent publications. In an interview with Johnson for World magazine, Pearcey says, "It is not only in politics that leaders forge movements. Phillip Johnson has developed what is called the 'Intelligent Design' movement..." In Christianity Today, she reveals Johnson's religious beliefs and his criticism of evolution and affirms Johnson as "The unofficial spokesman for ID" The scientific community views intelligent design as unscientific, pseudoscience or junk science
Junk science
Junk science is a term used in U.S. political and legal disputes that brands an advocate's claims about scientific data, research, or analyses as spurious. The term may convey a pejorative connotation that the advocate is driven by political, ideological, financial, or other unscientific...

.

Wedge strategy



In its earliest days the intelligent design movement was called the 'wedge movement'. The wedge metaphor, attributed to Johnson, is that of a metal wedge splitting a log and represents using an aggressive public relations programme to create an opening for the supernatural in the public’s understanding of science. Johnson acknowledges that the goal of the intelligent design movement is to promote a theistic
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 agenda cast as a scientific concept

According to Johnson, the wedge movement, if not the term, began in 1992:
Johnson describes the Wedge movement as devoted to a "program of questioning the materialistic basis of science" and reclaiming the "intellectual world" from the "atheists and agnostics" that Johnson believes are synonymous with this "scientific materialist culture". He describes the "logic of our movement" as:
  • "The first thing you understand is that the Darwinian theory isn't true. It's falsified by all of the evidence, and the logic is terrible."
  • "...the next question that occurs to you is, 'Well, where might you get truth?' ... John 1:1, 'In the beginning was the Word.' In the beginning was intelligence, purpose, and wisdom. The Bible had that right and the materialist scientists are deluding themselves."
  • "The next question is: Why do so many brilliant, well-informed, intelligent people fool themselves for so long with such bad thinking and bad evidence?" Johnson sees this as an issue of "turning away from" self-evident truth, the "sin question" and the need to prepare the way for acceptance of a Creator.


Johnson has been explicit about the Christian principles underlying his philosophy and agenda and that of the intelligent design movement. In speaking at the "Reclaiming America for Christ Conferences", Johnson has described the movement thus:

Rob Boston
Rob Boston
Robert Boston has been Assistant Director of Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Assistant Editor of Church & State magazine since 1987. Boston is an advocate of separation of church and state and has authored three books on the subject. He frequently...

 of Americans United for Separation of Church and State described this vision as:
Johnson is one of the authors of the Discovery Institute's Wedge Document
Wedge strategy
The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document, which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose...

 and its Teach the Controversy
Teach the Controversy
Teach the Controversy is the name of a Discovery Institute campaign to promote intelligent design, a variant of traditional creationism, while attempting to discredit evolution in United States public high school science courses...

 campaign, which attempts to cast doubt on the validity of the theory of evolution, its acceptance within the scientific community, and reduce its role in public school science curricula while promoting intelligent design. The Teach the Controversy campaign portrays evolution as "a theory in crisis."

In his 1997 book Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds Johnson summed up the underlying philosophy of his advocacy for intelligent design and against methodological and philosophical naturalism:
Johnson has described the wedge strategy as:
  • "We are taking an intuition most people have (the belief in God) and making it a scientific and academic enterprise. We are removing the most important cultural roadblock to accepting the role of God as creator."
  • "Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools."
  • "This isn't really, and never has been a debate about science. It's about religion and philosophy."
  • "So the question is: "How to win?" That’s when I began to develop what you now see full-fledged in the "wedge" strategy: "Stick with the most important thing" —the mechanism and the building up of information. Get the Bible and the Book of Genesis out of the debate because you do not want to raise the so-called Bible-science dichotomy. Phrase the argument in such a way that you can get it heard in the secular academy and in a way that tends to unify the religious dissenters. That means concentrating on, "Do you need a Creator to do the creating, or can nature do it on its own?" and refusing to get sidetracked onto other issues, which people are always trying to do."

Neocreationism



When asked how best to raise doubts and question evolution with non-believers, Johnson responded:

Allegations of intellectual dishonesty


Johnson has been accused of being intellectually dishonest
Intellectual dishonesty
Intellectual dishonesty is dishonesty in performing intellectual activities like thought or communication. Examples are:* the advocacy of a position which the advocate knows or believes to be false or misleading...

 in his arguments advancing intelligent design and attacking the scientific community. For example, he has been accused of numerous equivocation
Equivocation
Equivocation is classified as both a formal and informal logical fallacy. It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense...

s, particularly involving the term naturalism which can refer either to methodological naturalism or to philosophical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism, also called ontological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, or just naturalism, is a philosophical worldview and belief system that holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences, i.e., those...

. In fact-checking Johnson's books Darwin on Trial and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, one reviewer argued that almost every scientific source Johnson cited had been misused or distorted, from simple misinterpretations and innuendos to outright fabrications. The reviewer, Brian Spitzer, a professor of Biology, described Darwin on Trial as the most deceptive book he had ever read.

Since Johnson is considered by those both inside and outside the movement to be the father and architect of the intelligent design movement
Intelligent design movement
The intelligent design movement is a neo-creationist religious campaign for broad social, academic and political change to promote and support the idea of "intelligent design," which asserts that "certain features of the universe and of living things are...

 and its strategies, Johnson's statements are often used to validate the criticisms leveled by those who allege that the Discovery Institute and its allied organizations are merely stripping the obvious religious content from their anti-evolution assertions as a means of avoiding the legal restrictions of the Establishment Clause
Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating, Together with the Free Exercise Clause The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,...

, a view reinforced by the December 2005 ruling in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. was the first direct challenge brought in the United States federal courts testing a public school district policy that required the teaching of intelligent design...

trial which found that intelligent design is not science and is essentially religious in nature. They argue that ID is simply an attempt to put a patina of secularity on top of what is a fundamentally religious belief and thus that the "Teach the Controversy" exhortation is disingenuous, particularly when contrasted to his statements in The Wall Street Journal and other secular media. Critics point out that contrary to the Discovery Institute's and Johnson's claims, the theory of evolution
Evidence of evolution
of living things has been discovered by scientists working in a variety of fields over many years. This evidence has demonstrated and verified the occurrence of evolution and provided a wealth of information on the natural processes by which the variety and diversity of life on Earth developed...

 is well-supported and widely accepted within the scientific community; there is little controversy on a scientific level. Popular disagreement with evolutionary theory should not be considered as a reason for challenging it as a scientifically valid subject to be taught, they contend.

In making their case, critics of Johnson commonly point to his central role in the Discovery Institute's carefully orchestrated campaign known as the wedge strategy
Wedge strategy
The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document, which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose...

. The wedge strategy, as envisioned by the Discovery Institute, is designed to leave the science establishment looking close-minded in the short term with a long-term goal being a redefinition of science that centers on the removal of methodological naturalism from the philosophy of science and the scientific method, thereby allowing for supernatural explanations to be introduced as science (see theistic realism
Theistic realism
Theistic science, also referred to as theistic realism, Augustinian science or Islamic science is the viewpoint that methodological naturalism should be replaced by a philosophy of science that is informed by supernatural revelation and/or allows occasional supernatural explanations. The viewpoint...

). This would have the net effect of bringing a religious orientation into the public schools via science classrooms. Critics note that Johnson, as a principal officer of the Discovery Institute, often cites an overall plan to put the United States on a course toward the theocracy envisioned in the Wedge Strategy, and that the Discovery Institute as a matter of policy intentionally obfuscates its agenda. According to Johnson, "The movement we now call the wedge made its public debut at a conference of scientists and philosophers held at Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University is a private university in Dallas, Texas, United States. Founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, SMU operates campuses in Dallas, Plano, and Taos, New Mexico. SMU is owned by the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church...

 in March 1992."

External links