Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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Kenneth Alan Daughters
Darwin On Trial. By Phillip E. Johnson. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1991. 195 pages. $19.95.
In the July, 1992 issue of Scientific American, Harvard University’s Steven Jay Gould wrote a highly critical review of Phillip Johnson’s book, Darwin on Trial. Gould, a confirmed and outspoken evolutionist, is often quoted by creationists because of his frequent statements about the lack of evidence for the general theory of evolution. Convinced of no other alternative, however, Gould has no time for the arguments of creationists. From that presuppositional bias, Gould attacks Darwin on Trial with a vengeance. While some of Gould’s points relating to Johnson’s lack of knowledge in the fields of biology and geology, his abbreviated documentation, and his use of “debating tricks” must be admitted, Gould fails to adequately answer Johnson’s main argument in Darwin on Trial. Take away the presupposition that present life forms came about through evolution, and the so-called evidence for evolution largely disappears. Data from the fossil record, data from molecular biology, and experiments in the laboratory “support” evolution only when the theory of evolution is assumed to be true. If creation is considered as an option, the data is equally (if not more) supportive of creation.
Phillip Johnson is a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and has no formal academic background in the sciences. Thus Darwin on Trial is not a scientific textbook but an analysis of the arguments and the assumptions behind the arguments that scientists use to support the theory of evolution. Although Johnson openly admits that he is a Christian theist, Darwin on Trial is not written from a “religious” perspective. It is written from the perspective of legal logic: examine the
EmJ 1:3 (Win 92) p. 280
evidence to see if there is a proven mechanism which can accomplish all that the theory of evolution supposes. Johnson does not deny that principles such as natural selection and adaptation to environment are an integral part of the history of life forms on this planet, but he argues that such principles are not a mechanism for biological evolution. Cases of “micro-evolution” as a result of gene mutation and gene pool mixture occur only within relatively narrow limits. All such genetic variation within species of the plant and animal kingdoms does not constitute evolution and cannot be used as evidence for a mechanism to support the theory of evolution.
Johnson argues, in line with the well-established scientific method, that if Darwin’s theory of evolution is false, then one s...
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