Intelligent Design: The real issue according to Johnson

So what has happened to Philip ‘the father of Intelligent Design’ Johnson? While some ID proponents have been arguing that ID has nothing in common with religion, Johnson seems to disagree. Since his stroke in 2001, Johnson’s public appearances seem to have been minimal and given his past statements, I am not surprised that ID is keeping Johnson out of the lime-light.

On UcD Tyke explains why the “confusion” by O’Reilly and Stein about the religious nature of ID is due to a fundamental entanglement with creationism. And while some effort is made to manage the message and pretend that ID makes no claims about the designer(s), ID proponents are very clear that the purpose of ID is to introduce the reality of God into the academic world.

Tyke wrote:

This may be pessimistic, but I very much doubt ID will ever come close to disentangling itself from creationism and religion. By far the largest block of support for ID comes from the conservative Christian community, and they simply see no merit in pretending that they don’t necessarily mean God when they talk about an intelligent designer. In fact, many of them believe it to be disingenuous to do so.

Even Philip Johnson himself is quite open about his religious motives for supporting ID when talking about it on Christian radio shows. While his lawyerly choice of words may allow him to continue claiming that the science of ID is silent on who the creator is, there is no mistaking the message he is sending to the Christian faithful–that ID enables Biblical creationism as a scientific theory.

Some examples:

Philip Johnson wrote:

“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, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast, in which Johnson “discusses his book The Right Questions, encouraging Christians to actively debate issues of eternal value.”)

Philip Johnson is also quoted in “” while describing the “purpose of the Discovery Institute”:

Furthermore, the purpose of the Discovery Institute is plain. Phillip Johnson, a senior fellow at the Institute, stated last year on a Christian radio talk show that “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.”

Let’s Be Intelligent About Darwin by Elizabeth Nickson

As early as 1996, Johnson had declared:

Philip Johnson wrote:

“This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.”

Witnesses for the prosecution Darwin on Trial author brings together anti-Darwin coalition to bring down evolution by Joel Belz in Los Angeles 1996, World Magazine November 30, 1996, Volume 11, Number 28, p. 18.

Why is it that we do not hear much about Johnson anymore from the ID proponents? Has the ‘father of intelligent design’ been expelled? Has he become a liability for being so outspoken about the motivation of Intelligent Design?

Or perhaps, because of statements like these?

Philip Johnson wrote:

Johnson: There is a relatedness. But what does it mean? Say we have almost 99 percent of our genes in common with chimpanzees. We also have at least 25 percent of our genes in common with bananas. There are these commonalities that exist throughout life. Do they point to a common evolutionary process or a common creator? That is the question for interpretation.

The genes are going to win when people ask me about that great degree of similarity between human genes and chimpanzee genes. I answer that genes must not be anywhere near as important as we have been led to believe. If there were that great a commonality between chimps and humans, it ought to be relatively easy to breed chimps and come up with a human being, or by genetic engineering to change a chimp into a human. We ought to see humans occasionally being born to chimps or perhaps chimps born into human families.

So the real question to me that needs to be explained is the enormous difference between chimps and human beings. That’s what evolutionary science needs to explain and can’t explain.

In defense of Intelligent Design NOVA PBS “Judgement Day: Intelligent design on trial” 2007

Even though Denis Lamoureux exposed the scientific ignorance of Philip Johnson on the topic of evolutionary theory in the book Darwinism Defeated, Johnson still does not show much progress in his understanding of the science of evolution. Not surprising, given his training in law not science, but as a major proponent of ID, one would at least hope that he would familiarize himself with the actual scientific claims. But then again, as Johnson stated himself. this is not really about science, it’s about religion.

On UcD, a poster named Tyke observes, the continued focus of ID proponents on religion is a self inflicted wound, a lethal combination of limited (if any) scientific research and a theology which tries to appeal to Christians through bait and switch techniques.

This has nothing to do with the merits of ID as a scientific hypothesis, but it is certainly contributing to the failure to gain traction amongst the more secular minded, and despite some virulent opposition, the wound is mostly self-inflicted—-a severe, and ongoing case of friendly fire.

Source: Tyke on UcD read also the followup comments such as

Many of the Christian fundamentalists have no use for issues of science since they are already convinced that they know the answer and that science should obviously support their viewpoints. Not only is ID a scientific show stopper from a scientific perspective but also from a theological perspective. After all, why do the research when one already claims to know the answers.

I agree that the facts should be allowed to speak for themselves, but that’s not the problem. The fundamentalist Christian community, by and large, have no patience for a serious and sober debate and inquiry into the merits of and evidence for ID. They believe they already know the answer, that God is obviously the designer.

And given that, so far, the ID output is mostly PR and little science, the ID message is getting lost in the overtly religious overtones of those who would support ID but muddy the waters with overt theology.

Mostly PR and little science, now that is what I call “ID exposed’