Darwin on Trial
by Phillip Johnson
Phillip Johnson’s excellent book Darwin on Trial is not perfect. He wants to avoid the controversy over the age of the earth, and in his haste to do so marginalizes young earth creationists. To the best of my knowledge, Johnson has never admitted his own belief about the age of the earth, but the first chapter of this work makes it appear unlikely that he believes the universe was created in six days less than 10,000 years ago.
On the other hand, Johnson’s unwillingness to discuss the age of the earth prevents him from making the glaring mistake that Hugh Ross makes, investing his life in convincing Christians that they should trust science more than scripture. I can’t help but think of the Assyrians when I think of Ross; it wasn’t too long ago that scientists denied the existence of the Assyrian civilization because the “only” evidence was biblical.
Happily, Johnson narrows his focus to a thesis of which he is certain: Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is bankrupt. As a law professor at the University of Berkeley, Johnson is careful to define his terms and to avoid rabbit trails. He understands that Darwinism lends credibility to atheistic worldviews, and he understands that these worldviews are based on faith. He asks only for a fair hearing for critics of Darwin.
His criticism is compelling. Consider, for example, his discussion of the evolution of the eye: “If the eye evolved at all, it evolved many times. Ernest Mayr writes that the eye must have evolved independently at least 40 times, a circumstance which suggests to him that ‘a highly complicated organ can evolve repeatedly and convergently when advantageous, provided such evolution is at all probable.’ But then why did the many primitive eye forms that are still with us never evolve into more advanced forms? [Richard] Dawkins admits to being baffled by the nautilus, which in its hundreds of millions of years of existence has never evolved a lens for its eye despite having a retina that is ‘practically crying out for (this) particular simple change.’”
Darwin on Trial is one of the best sustained criticisms of Darwinism. Students who understand this reading will be ready to study the emerging evolutionary orthodoxy, punctuated equilibrium.
by Jeff Baldwin