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Darwinism Defeated?: The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins [Paperback]

J. I. Packer , Phillip E. Johnson , Denis O. Lamoureux

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Product details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Regent College Publishing (1 Dec 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573831336
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573831338
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 15.5 x 22.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,648,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Brief Intros to the Christian Origins Debate 13 Jan 2000
By M. A. Kalthoff - Published on Amazon.com
Denis Lamoureux, an evangelical Christian with three doctorates (theology, biology, and dentistry), is an unapologetic evolutionist. He considers Phillip Johnson (a distinguished member of the law faculty at the University of California, Berkeley) to be "the most important antievolutionist in the world today." Johnson, like Lamoureux, is a devoted Christain. In the first part of this book the two engage in debate. Lamoureux opens. Johnson replies. Lamoureux responds. Johnson gets the last word. The second part of the book includes nine responses to the debate from theologians, scientists, and philosophers (all of whom have Ph.D.s). These include such names as Michael Behe, Michael Denton, Stephen Meyer, and Howard Van Till. Some are disposed toward Johnson and his position which is called "intelligent design theory." Others favor Lamoureux and his "evolutionary creationist perspective." All have their own ideas they wish to toss into the fray. At 174 pages, the book is brief enough to serve as a good introduction to this lively debate between Christians who know that God created, but disagee about how it was done. I am a college professor and recently assigned this book for an undergraduate philosophy of science seminar that I taught on creation and evolution. The students in the course found it very useful, as will all serious students of the Christian origins debates.
56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Johnson on Trial 16 Aug 2000
By "brentmw" - Published on Amazon.com
I cut my theological teeth on the Origins debate. As an Evangelical and a student of biological science, I soon supped upon a steady diet of Phillip Johnson and Michael Behe. I shared Johnson's outrage at an academic world with atheistic assumptions. I revelled in his out-sciencing the scientists; he was winning back atheistic turf! I fretted over the dismissal of his arguments by Stephen Jay Gould and the rest of the scientific community. I wheeled out Johnson to defeat the lecture notes of my biology professors and former high school teachers. I looked forward to the fall of Darwin.
But I began to read criticism of Johnson. I found counter-arguments that were often as convincing and as rhetorically powerful as Johnson himself. I became increasingly aware of questions that were never addressed by the good guys: If life evolved, is Christianity false? Does the Bible demand what Lamoreux calls "cosmological concordance"? Does Johnson have a plausible Christian alternative origin model makes sense of the fossils? Is it even desirable to have a supernatural scientific methodology?
The answer to all these questions is no. For those would-be Darwin Defeaters, examine Lamoureux. Question your own objectivity. Don't be afraid that any questioning is compromise, or that your whole Christian world will crumble. Contrary to popular belief, history is full of orthodox Christians who supported evolutionary creationism. Lamoreux's arguments resonate deeply with my own conclusions and intellectual development. I didn't compromise. I refused to compromise in the pursuit of truth, and it led me to the ministry.
This is a wonderful book because it finally calls Johnson to some intellectual accountability. Johnson is forceful and rhetorically powerful in his own books. But force and power is not truth. Johnson's failure here is a testimony to that.
35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fillip for Phillip 11 Aug 2000
By C. R. McGlone - Published on Amazon.com
When I first reviewed "Darwinism Defeated?" in manuscript the first thought that hit me was, "Why the blazes is Johnson allowing this to be published?" In my opinion, Professor Phillip Johnson takes a beating of the worst kind from fellow Christian, Professor Denis Lamoureux, and then permits Regent College to publish the debate. So you can imagine how completely stunned I was when I later found reviewers actually hoisting Johnson in victory as the undisputed champ of this exchange. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In response to Lamoureux's thirty-eight page critique of Johnson's book "An Easy-To-Understand Guide for Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds," Johnson writes:
"I doubt if the common ancestry thesis is true. However, I do not consider this issue to be of central importance and do not attempt to argue the question for now, because certain crucial work in progress that bears on common ancestry has yet to be published."
Lamoureux candidly replies:
"This is indeed a remarkable statement! Johnson has gained international attention for rejecting biological evolution (or common ancestry), and now he claims that this theory is not "of central importance." In the book that thrust him to the forefront of the modern antievolution movement, Darwin on Trial (1991), seven of the twelve chapters attempt to argue directly against the evidence for common ancestry. Note, too, that in not wanting to deal with the scientific evidence for evolution, Johnson's escape-and-evasion tactic includes an appeal to work "yet to be published." What then is the point in having an evolutionary creationist like me in an exchange of ideas with Johnson if the topic of common ancestry is not central to the discussion?"
Johnson continues his attempt to escape Lamoureux's onslaught by claiming that he does not think it "worthwhile to discuss detailed evidentiary questions with Denis Lamoureux." Can we really blame Lamoureux for being irritated at this? Expecting Christian charity and a zeal for the truth, Lamoureux instead finds himself being denied the opportunity to cross-examine Johnson, the very thing he was asked to do by Johnson in the first place. In his frustration, Lamoureux responds by directing four pointed questions at Johnson concerning his academic authority, scientific beliefs, and poor treatment of fellow Christians. How does Johnson finally respond to these? He doesn't. Instead he excuses himself from the debate with this statement:
"I disavow Denis Lamoureux's characterizations of what I have written."
As if this was not enough of an outrage, in place of a response to Lamoureux's questions Johnson instead offers a radio transcript of a conversation between himself and Dr. James Dobson!
As a young mind attempting to discover the proper relationship between my faith and creation, I have found that Lamoureux has demonstrated beyond doubt that Johnson has little to offer us. In fact, the only thing this soi-disant 'freer of minds' has given us in this exchange is just another fillip, just one more trivial addition to the discussion at large and a deplorable one at that. It is because of this very fact that "Darwinism Defeated?" is and will continue to be a best-seller.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leading Scholars and Scientists Debate Darwinism and Intelligent Design 21 Jun 2006
By Discovery Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
This volume contains a debate between design advocate Phillip E. Johnson and evolutionary biologist Denis Lamoureux. Though differing in opinion over evolution, both sparring partners are Christians. Lamoureux asks challenging questions of Johnson, asserting that Johnson's position is based upon "God-of-the-gaps" type arguments. Lamoureax also challenges Johnson's arguments on the fossil record, claiming that there are examples of transitional forms. Lamoureax ends by pressing Johnson to list "how many university-level courses you have successfully completed in biology, and could you be specific in your answer indicating what type of biology these were."

Johnson's replies that from a Christian perspective, we have good reason to expect that God has revealed himself in the natural world. Romans 1:20 explains that God's work has made Him "clearly seen." In contrast, Darwinism tells us that all the design in the world is merely an illusion. Assigning God a detectable role is not bad science or theology, according to Johnson. Johnson also points out that many of Lamoureax's arguments focus on Johnson's scientific qualifications. Regarding alleged evolutionary transitions, Johnson points out that he addresses these issues in his other books, such as Darwin on Trial (which apparently was well-liked by some Darwinist paleontologists, such as David Raup).

The other contributions in this book also debate whether it is theologically appropriate to give God a role in the creation. Discovery Institute fellows Steve Meyer and Michael Behe argue that design is detectable. Keith Miller argues that fossil evidence of transitional forms supports common descent, and implies that design is wrong. This is an intriguing exchange between various scientists on both sides of this debate.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Survey of the Best of the Best of Both Camps 10 Feb 2007
By Jedidiah Palosaari - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I give this a five not because of the quality of the essays, but as a recommendation to read the book. Some of the essays are excellently crafted; others horribly so. But this book gives a very good overview of the quality of the arguments out there, by the proclaimed best in the respective fields.

Darwinism Defeated is basically a critique of Johnson's Defeating Darwinism. In this Lamoureux does a superb job, with many cogent, coherent arguments that frankly demolish Johnson's position. Lamoureux begins with some rather intriguing and provocative ideas of advocating a difference between cosmological intervention and personal intervention- thus that God intervenes miraculously in personal lives of intelligent beings, but that it diminishes his character to state that He must do so in the creation of the universe as He is evidently incapable of setting up a working system. I must admit this idea is very persuasive to me.

Lamoureux's treatment of Johnson is particularly glaring when he points out Johnson's complete lack of understanding of basic biology and the meaning of evolution, as well as Johnson's personal attacks on his opponents. One can tell Lamoureux spent a fair bit of time to politely and kindly review Johnson's thoughts and works.

The reason Darwinism Defeated is a critique rather than an actual dialogue on the subject is wholly at the feet of Johnson. His responses to Lamoureux are extremely terse and very off point, with the typical requisite quote mining. He explicitly states that he has no interest in addressing most of Lamoureux's points, and that he doesn't want to write that much- either because he feels it's beneath him or because he doesn't have much to say. Thus it is solely because of Johnson's lack of care for the interchange that Lamoureux clearly wins the day. It's a pity, as it would have been interesting to read an honest interchange of the best and the brightest on this contentious subject.

The rest of the book follows after the two, as those of Intelligent Design and the Evolution camps make their case and critiques of Johnson and Lamoureux. All participants do so from the perspective of affirming the centrality of Jesus Christ. Most of the IDers present old arguments long ago refuted or rehashed misunderstandings of Information Theory. The ironic exception is Wells essay which actually gets at some of the guts of the controversy. But it is ironic because his essay is only three pages long, with therefore undeveloped arguments.

In contrast, most of the essays from an evolutionary perspective present arguments that fully address their opponents and fully conteract them. Till and Wilkinson have some rather strong cases for the inherent Deism present in Intelligent Design, as this hypothesis ultimately argues that God is fully present only at unique times, and not seamlessly immanent in all of creation- it is a form of punctuated naturalism. Rather it is important to affirm God is present at all moments of creation- something missing from Intelligent Design, Literal Creationism, and atheistic Evolution.

Of particular interest, and in a completely separate category, is Denton's essay. Michael Denton started off a lot of the Intelligent Design movement with his book, Evolution: A Theory In Crisis, a work rightfully widely panned by scientists. There Denton seems to make a strong case against evolution and for proto-Intelligent Design. However, in this essay he has completely changed track. Either his views have radically changed over the years, or he simply radically miscommunicated them previously. (He seems to indicate some support for the latter idea in this essay.) For here he unequivocally affirms that God is present in creation, but that it happened entirely through naturalistic means- that all life evolved without the necessity of intervention by God. However, as in his landmark book, he states that he feels there are major problems with the Gradualistic theory of evolution (what he here calls Darwinism). What is new is he argues that it happens not through miraculous intervention, but rather that there are sudden changes between classes and orders through homeobox genes. While I think this will expose him to the same critiques of Stephen J. Gould's Puctuated Equilibriuim- namely that he is conflating time and not giving full allowance for what can happen in a short time span of 100,000 years- it certainly places Denton in a new light, and indeed, on the opposite side of the camp as where he has usually been claimed- in the bosom of the Literal Creationists.

I recommend this book because it will show you what is being said out there, on both sides. Darwinism Defeated is rather indicative of the controversy as a whole- the Theistic Evolutionists state their arguments with evidence, and respond to those of the Intelligent Designers and Literal Creationists. The latter groups skirt the arguments of evolution, lack sufficient experience and understanding of the issues, and avoid actually engaging their opponents.
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