Book Review: Defeating Darwinism By Opening Minds

Defeating Darwinism By Opening Minds, by Philip Johnson

This exceedingly short book comes in at just over 100 pages and it is a straightforward one.  This is not a book written with a difficult argument that is hard to follow, and contrary to the expectations of evolutionists, you aren’t going to find a great deal of speculation on the Bible.  Like a great deal of its peers among excellent intelligent design books [1], this book focus on a few key elements that it hammers home over and over again, hopefully clear enough that even an evolutionist could get the point.  This is a book that is written in a simple enough form that it encourages young people and ordinary readers that their intuition is sound and that it’s cool to stand up against the power of a fundamentalist agenda on the part of the priests of secular humanism.  I can’t say I disagree with the author either; this book makes a strong case for being a rebel in the best way–a rebel with a sound command of both science and sound rhetoric and logic, things which are often lacking among the author’s many and frequently misguided critics.

The book itself consists of a few short chapters and some very well-written notes at the end that are well-worth reading.  The book begins with three common mistakes made by believers who want to be cool with modernism and so compromise their faith as well as their rationality in the process.  After that comes a thoughtful examination of the mythology behind Inherit The Wind and its ironic meaning in the contemporary science wars.  A chapter that ironically praises Sagan’s baloney detector and then applies it more thoroughly than he did follows.  The fourth chapter provides a look at what a real education in evolution would entail, which again is full of reversals of expectations.  After that the author discusses intelligent design and gives a basic look at it, referring the reader to other texts if more detail is wanted.  The author discusses his wedge strategy for truth, pointing to the divide between empirical data and philosophical assumptions in scientific debate.  After that comes a critique of modernism and the way that many professed Christians try to pander to it, along with a call to step off the reservation and engage the greater culture at large with a robust and intelligent theism represented well by the author’s own mindset.

This book is likely to be a rather polarizing one.  The book is aimed at young people and certainly is a solid one.  The book was popular enough, for example, to be in my local public library some twenty years after it was published, showing that it retains some importance in encouraging readers to think for themselves and come to sounder conclusions than one will get off of the dogma related to a great deal of science.  The author scores some points by reminding the reader that any theory that is weak enough that it has to be protected by being assumed as part of the definition of science is not a strong theory at all, and this is not a book that will appeal to those who have their mind closed against intelligent design.  Fortunately, though, some 90% or so of Americans still believe in a variety of theistic options when it comes to creation, and this book is clearly written to that large audience that deserves some encouragement for sticking to their guns in the face of a concerted combination of arrogance and ignorance from a misguided cultural and intellectual elite.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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