Darwin on Trial
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Darwin on Trial

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  896 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Johnson, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, assesses the evidence for evolution as a lawyer would. His discovery: there is no evidence at all that one sort of organism can evolve into another. The fossil record and genetics, in fact, point against the theory of evolution and Darwinism.
Hardcover, 195 pages
Published January 15th 1991 by Regnery Publishing (first published 1991)
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Dave Maddock
I was reminded about this book the other day as I was listening to a UCSD Anthropology podcast. As a child I was taught the typical anti-evolution Christian ideology. I've always been one to do my own research and make up my own mind about things. I finally got around to evolution in college where I minored in anthropology and learned of the ridiculously large body of evidence for this "just a theory". To be fair, I read this book to get a reasoned opinion from the anti-evolution camp.

Reading th...more
Phillip Johnson's DARWIN ON TRIAL should be viewed by most as Creationism's MEIN KAMPF or COMMUNIST MANIFESTO; a slick, well-written legal brief against evolution which is merely a litany of Johnson's anger towards "naturalistic" science and a compendium of alleged flaws made by distinguished 20th Century evolutionary biologists. It soon becomes quite apparent that Johnson neither understands nor appreciates why science must remain an enterprise devoid of supernatural explanations; one should on...more
In a culture that supposedly places a high value on open-mindedness and healthy criticism, evolution has somehow been a sacred cow, beyond the reach of serious analysis. Dissent has been effectively marginalized through the use of a caricature which assures us that all educated people recognize that evolution is a fact, even if there are in-house disagreements about the details. We are told that the only dissenters are Biblical fundamentalists who insist on a narrow, literal reading of Genesis a...more
Darwin on Trial, a landmark book on intelligent design, is at the very least an important book for understanding a prominent sentiment in the United States. Johnson, a lawyer and philosopher, decided to examine the arguments of naturalistic (as opposed to theistic) evolution from a forensic (trial-law) standpoint. Really, though, it seems more that Johnson is employing a philosophical framework and using law as a rhetorical packaging, so that he can talk about weighing testimony and rendering ve...more
Read this in college...not sure which edition, but it was definitely a shorter read than the more recent offerings of this book. Read this back before I knew just how controversial evolution could be.

From what I recall, this book is boring, poorly written, and naive. Johnson takes the lawyerly approach to presenting a case against evolution and the results feel like the word has been reduced to a rickety grade school diorama. Johnson most likely focused on word play and arguments based on defin...more
I'm rating this book on the assumption of a stipulated umpteen-billion-year history of the universe. That is not my current belief, but I have virtually no knowledge of the science of dating so I have nothing to say about it at this point.

I recently read Coyne's much more recent Why Evolution is True. Seems that Darwinists have not been able to improve their presentation, because Darwin on Trial pretty much destroys Coyne as if he were responding to him, rather than writing a book twenty years a...more
I should like to give this book 1.5 stars but that is not possible.

If you want to know what it's like to get the theory of evolution wrong in so many ways, yet think you understand it well enough to refute it, then read this book and believe what the author says.

Coming from an intellect of Johnson's caliber, I'm deeply disappointed in the many sophmoric logical fallacies (I do mean of the standard textbook variety) he employs for the sake of rhetorical persuasiveness--the result of promoting a...more
In a culture that supposedly places a high value on open-mindedness and healthy criticism, evolution has somehow been a sacred cow, beyond the reach of serious analysis. Dissent has been effectively marginalized through the use of a caricature which assures us that all educated people recognize that evolution is a fact, even if there are in-house disagreements about the details. We are told that the only dissenters are Biblical fundamentalists who insist on a narrow, literal reading of Genesis a...more
Philip Johnson fully admits that he is not a scientist--a fact that his critics seem to have brought up as a reason to discredit him. To a certain degree, I think they are right -- if he doesn't have a deep understanding of the science, he misses out on some aspects of the discussion. But to a large degree I think it's an elitist attitude to claim that a lack of complete and deep understanding means that one does not bring anything to the conversation.

Johnson specializes in Law -- specifically,...more
This book is a refreshing, logical discussion of why many of the "facts of evolution" are simply not proven. As a child, I had no reason to question evolution. Everywhere I encountered it, biology class, museums, weather reports, astronomy lessons...it was presented as fact, not theory. The elaborate artwork that fills museums and books regarding evolution was not presented with a strong caveat. It was shocking to learn how experts--scientists-- defended evolution, even when faced with huge cou...more
The first really intellectually satisfying challenge to Darwinianism I've ever read. Johnson's book is NOT a religious challenge to Darwinian evolution, it is a scientific challenge to current evolutionary theory. Yet as a serious Christian I deeply appreciate the information that Johnson brings to light. It drastically reduced the tension between Christian faith and science for me. As someone who's also been deeply interested in science for most of my life it's also an eye opening presentation...more
Aug 10, 2007 Todd rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has questions about the validity of evolution
This book attempts to discredit Darwin's theory of evolution. Johnson has done a great deal of research on the subject and his arguments can't be pushed aside lightly. If nothing else he points out Darwinism for what it is, a faith system that does not require God. As a layperson I found some of the scientific data a little overwhelming at first. I had to go back and reread several chapters before I was able to truly understand his arguments. Overall I enjoyed this book.
Josh Crews
The author is not a Phd biologist, but rather and keenly-interested-in-evolution-origins law professor at Berkeley. He very well cross examines molecule-to-man evolution worldview that affects Western culture daily. He makes the case really well and for me delivered the intellectual fatal blow to evolution when I was a young Christian.
Bill Nohmer
We know so little about it (Darwinian evolution) that many christians think it is possible God used evolution in creation. Phillip E. Johnson takes a courtroom approach to his investigation/examination of Darwinian evolution and concludes: If it were on trial, it would LOSE.
Full of information concerning fossil records, genetic, and molecular evidence, and such. The author writes as a lawyer, and stands face to face with the likes of Dawkins, Darwin, Gould, and others. Researched and well written.
The book that launched the Intelligent Design movement. After reading this, you'll never look the same way at the shallow Darwinistic dogma you get in the average news story of high school science textbook.
David Gilley
Excellent legal like discussion regarding the theories of Darwin and how they can be broken down.
Execellent and objective.
I read this immediately after finishing Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion", so it's been interesting to compare the books.

It struck me a long time ago that some evolutionary scientists were saying fairly absurd things in response to identified improbabilities in the theory (I noticed it once when reading what was obviously a completely imaginary narrative about the evolution of flying squirrels, for example). They often seemed to think that the ability to propose any explanatory story, no matte...more
John Brackbill
This is a great read that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a systematic analysis of the underlying presuppositions that support the supposedly impenetrable fortress of "evolutionary fact."

Here are some quotes that illustration the book's position/purpose:

"The concept of creation in itself does not imply opposition to evolution, if evolution means only a gradual process by which one kind of living creature changes into something different. A Creator might well have employed such a...more
An interesting and thought provoking work of criticism which makes its points intelligently without sounding like a stereotypical advocate for intelligent design. This book was a gift from my now late co worker Seth Williamson, and it has his notes, marks and comments in pencil throughout. It was somewhat comforting to encounter them; because his opinions were documented, it was like having a conversation with someone I wasn’t expecting to be able to have.
a dense book that takes on both extremes: the neo-darwinists AND the creationists. the writer is a lawyer, not a scientist and lets it be known at the beginning that his book is an attempt to examine the rationality and the reasons for both darwin's evolutionary theory and the creationists counter-argument. totally an amazing read. actually i think i'm going to have to study this book before i come to a firmer conclusion on where this book informs my already held position on this subject and whe...more
I read this book over 15 years ago, so this review is based on a sketchy memory of it, and I'm only writing it for the benefit of family or friends who may be interested in it. The book is pretty old now and some of the science discussed may be outdated. The author is an attorney, not a scientist, but he's no "young earth" creationist. This book is more about the rhetoric and philosophies surrounding evolution than the science of it and I found it very interesting and enlightening.
I've always wanted to read this book because of its acclaim among the Christian apologetics community. I was certainly not disappointed by this highly thoughtful and articulate critique on Darwinian evolution. While there is much that can be said, the most compelling chapters were the ones that dealt with the reality of Darwinian evolution being treated more like a religion and less like a science.

Meaning, Darwinian evolution has slowly become inscrutable among the scientific elite and those tha...more
Jeffrey Backlin
A good introductory work into the concepts of science and design from the figurehead himself.
Ezra Hood
Oh my, I have long suspected, but did not know, how rocky the supposedly-scientific case for evolution is. The explanations given me in college and high school never seemed complete enough to warrant the "case closed" verdict accompanying them. But Johnson makes a devastating case that the scientific community is in a victory lap without ever playing the game.

The "arguments" repeatedly given by scientists form a unanimous non sequitor, to be charitable. It's systemic fraud, to be more frank.

A bit dated by the time I read it, but the logic is mostly sound and arguments are interesting. There is a lot that he gets wrong about evolution, though, which makes it difficult to persuade an audience that is not already sympathetic to his viewpoint. That's perhaps the biggest drawback. But if you're interested in understanding some of the history of the ID movement, it's not a bad place to start. I just can't say I was sold by his presentation. I thought about giving this a 2, but I did actu...more
Mark A Powell
The theory of evolution, Johnson claims, has more to do with a predetermined commitment to life-explaining ideas that have no room for supernatural (much less divine) influence. This has resulted in a philosophical, not scientific, framework that automatically excludes anything foreign to its underlying belief system. Though generally out of its depth when addressing scientific components of Darwinism, this book’s strength lies in its unmasking of naturalism as a philosophical system, not primar...more
Noel Adams
Fantastic!!! A must-read for anyone who is a true believer in Darwinism or has a sneaky suspicion that Darwinism is not good science. Very readable to a non-scientist like myself, and Johnson deftly points to all the scientific controversies surrounding this philosophies about our beginnings. Loved, loved, loved it! Truly interesting were the doubts voiced by Darwin stalwarts like Ruse or Gould. You'll end this book understanding the one thing we CAN know for sure about Darwinism: it is a religi...more
Kate Mollohan
This guy is an idiot. He gets nearly NONE of the science correct, and seems to deliberately misunderstand explanations, and repeats them to readers incorrectly. It's not surprising that I wouldn't like this book, but it was required for a class, and since I am a proponent of teaching evolution--correctly--I have to read the other sides' arguments as well. Luckily for science, most of the arguments are incorrect and uniformed, but unfortunately for science the general public buys into it.
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