Phillip Johnson vs Phillip Johnson
In a post over at Dispatches, Ed Brayton quotes from a recent definition of ID by Phillip Johnson. Per fashion, the bulk of Johnson's explanation of ID consists of a repudiation of current scientific understanding, i.e., biological evolution, by way of assault on current scientific methodology, i.e., methodological naturalism.
Here is Johnson's definition,
"Intelligent design is a proposition that is contrary to the officially described neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, which Richard Dawkins was promoting. That theory says that the entire history of life from the ultimate origin of life on earth up through all the plants and animals, human beings, right up to the greatest geniuses on earth today, take your choice, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, George W. Bush, these are all products of a combination of chance and physical or chemical law that is purely natural which is to say unintelligent causes. There is no creator, no designer, no intelligence behind the whole thing. That is the claim, that as far as the evidence shows, that that is the case, that is an undesigned system operating on the basis of chance and physical law with no intelligence whatever. The intelligent design position, which I began to advance in the book I started in England in 1987, that came out later as Darwin on Trial, now pretty well known, was that no, that doesn't work. To adequately explain the origin of life and the different kinds of living things that we see on earth today and throughout earth's history, to adequately explain how these things came about you have to go beyond the unintelligent physical causes that the Darwinian theory allows, that's all that that theory allows, and acknowledge that there had to be some intelligent cause operating in the system. If I could rename the whole thing now I would probably call it the intelligent cause theory rather than intelligent design, but that's alright, we've got that name and we'll stick with it. So that's what it is, there is an intelligent cause operating in the history of life or we wouldn't have the things that we have today.There is only one way someone as intelligent as Phillip Johnson could go twenty years without learning a single thing about science: willful ignorance. The above is such an egregious collection of mistatement and misunderstanding that I think it goes far beyond Brayton's wry paraphrase - "ID means not evolution." Like many ID arguments, Johnson's whinging amounts to a much broader "ID means not science." An observation which stands in stark contrast to his utterly inane summation,
That's a scientific proposition, it's based on the scientific evidence and nothing else."Well now, that's just an outright lie. Wouldn't you agree Phillip Johnson?
"This isn't really, and never has been, a debate about science, it's about religion and philosophy." - Phillip Johnson, World Magazine, November 30, 1996I thought so. Thanks for your help in clearing that up.
"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." - Phillip Johnson, 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." - Phillip Johnson, Forward to Creation, Evolution, & Modern Science, 2000
"We are removing the most important cultural roadblock to accepting the role of God as creator." - Phillip Johnson, LA Times, March 25, 2001
"This is a way of phrasing the issue that ought to bring together Protestants of different views young-earth believers and the scriptures, old-earthers who interpret Genesis differently, even the people who take the whole thing allegorically. Again, they should have a common interest in the issue. In the beginning was the word. In the beginning God created. True or false." Phillip Johnson, Kansas conference, June, 2001
"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." - Phillip Johnson, Touchstone Magazine interview, June 2002
"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." - Phillip Johnson, American Family Radio, January 10, 2003
"The subject is not just the theory of evolution, the subject is the reality of God." - Phillip Johnson, Hank Hanegraaf's "Bible Answer Man" radio program, 12/19/2004
"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." - (Ibid.)