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The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism [Kindle Edition]

Phillip E. Johnson , Dallas Willard
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A 2001 ECPA Gold Medallion Award winner!

A 2001 Christianity Today Award of Merit winner!

Science is the supreme authority in our culture.

If there is a dispute, science arbitrates it. If a law is to be passed, science must ratify it. If truth is to be taught, science must approve it. And when science is ignored, stroms of protest are heard in the media, in the university--even in local coffee shops.

Yet a society ruled by science (and the naturalistic philosophy that undergirds much of it) faces major problems. Science speaks so authoritatively in our culture that many are tempted to use its clout to back claims that go beyond the available evidence. How can we spot when such ideological slight of hand has taken place?

More important, while we may learn a great deal from science, it does not offer us unlimited knowledge. In fact, most scientists readily acknowledge that science cannot provide answers to questions of ultimate purpose or meaning. So to what authority will we turn for these?

The deficiencies in science and the philosophy (naturalism) that undergirds it call for a cognitive revolution--a fundamental change in our thinking habits. And it all begins with a wedge of truth.

This wedge of truth does not "wedge out" a necessary foundation of rational thought. But it does "wedge in" the much-needed acknowledgment that reason encompasses more than mere scientific investigation. Phillip E. Johnson argues compellingly for an understanding of reason that brings scientific certainty back into relational balance with philosophical inquiry and religious faith.

Applying his wedge of truth, Johnson analyzes the latest debates between science and religion played out in our media, our universities and society-at-large. He looks to thinkers such as Newbigin, Polanyi and Pascal to lay a foundation for our seeing the universe in a totally different way. And from that base he then considers the educational programs and research agendas that should be undertaken--and have already begun in some earnest--during this new century.

In the end, Johnson prophetically concludes that the walls of naturalism will fall and that the Christian gospel must play a vital role in building a new foundation fro thinking--not just about science and religion but about everyhting that gives human life hopeand meaning.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1484 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; Print-On-Demand edition (2 Aug. 2002)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001P3PWTK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,315,259 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A muscular wedge 4 Feb. 2015
Phillip Johnson is the grand old man of the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) in the United States, a conservative and mostly Christian current devoted to opposing Darwinism. It's main institution is the Discovery Institute (DI) in Seattle, to which Johnson belongs. Opponents view Intelligent Design as a form of religiously motivated creationism. Indeed, the DI is dominated by “old earth creationists”, Christians who accept the old age of the Earth, while rejecting the idea of evolution in all its forms (including its Christian form, “theistic evolutionism”). Johnson himself is an old earth creationist. The teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools was banned by a court decision in 2005 (the so-called Dover trial).

An internal DI document known as “The Wedge Document” was leaked on the web in 1999, and is often used by opponents of the IDM to prove that the goal of the movement is religious, rather than strictly scientific. The title of Johnson's book (published in 2000) might therefore come as a surprise. Actually, Johnson openly says in all his books that the goal of the IDM is to re-Christianize America, bringing back a conservative form of Protestantism as the dominant force in society, culture and politics. In practice, the IDM seems to have a dual strategy, with Johnson being muscular and “in your face”, while other writers (such as Michael Behe) represent the softer side of the wedge, a kind of “creationism with a human face”, which “only” demands an equal voice in science for reasonable doubt about naturalist evolution. I doubt that “The Wedge of Truth” would have worked during the Dover trial!

To Johnson, the conflict isn't really about “science”.
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important apologetics 1 Feb. 2001
By P. M. Fernandez VINE VOICE
This book is a statement of the two principle arguments against evolution. These are:
- Biological systems are irreducibly complex, meaning that there is no gradual process by which they could evolve;
- It is not possible for time and chance on their own to produce the information content that we find in genetic material.
In short, the biological world requires intelligent design. This ground is covered in greater depth in other books - particularly Darwin's Black Box (Michael Behe) and books by William Dembski. What is new to this book is the agenda that Johnson deliberately sets out. In his introduction, he writes:
"The Wedge of my title is an informal movement of like-minded thinkers in which I have taken a leading role. Our strategy is to drive the thin edge of our Wedge into the cracks in the log of naturalism by bringing long-neglected questions to the surface and introducing them into public debate. ... If we are raising the right questions ..., then new avenues of inquiry should be suggested, and thinking will go off in new directions. A new body of research and scholarship will gradually emerge, and in time the adherents of the old dogma will be left behind."
This book answers the naturalists' replies to the challenges described above, as well as giving a Christian perspective on various occasions where they have sought to impose their agenda (for example, the school curriculum debate in Kansas). It also talks about the debate in theological terms, arguing that Romans 1 warns us to expect the arrogant, human-centred challenges to the authority of God.
Although a moderately difficult book, in terms of the philosophical and scientific ground covered, it is a book that ought to become very important, if Christians believe that a world view built around God's revelation is intellectually viable in the 21st Century.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Lawyer Speaks on Evolution, Biologists yawn 14 Nov. 2007
By jcmacc VINE VOICE
Phillip Johnson is a highly qualified man and has written about his concerns on Darwinian theory. Sadly Johnson is a highly qualified lawyer and not biologist or scientist of any description and boy, does it show in this book.

Genuinely educated insight into biology and evolutionary mechanisms are not part of the book, so what are we left with? Lots of "I don't understand it, so it can't be true" arguments that to genuine biologists are simply answered by "actualy, we do understand it, and there's no reason to contradict the evidence we have".

File under "creationism that's pretending not to be creationism".
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9 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece of work 28 Jan. 2006
With books like this beginning to get published it's no wonder the Archibishop of Atheism (Richard Dawkins)is making programmes like "The root of all evil?". A fine read from Professor Johnson.
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59 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The survival of the fittest: Darwinism won't survive 9 May 2001
By Jonatas Machado - Published on
As a law professor in Portugal, I have been deeply inspired by Phillip Johnson's life and work. He has made it clear to me that lawyers should take part in this debate and give their own contributions. Phillip Johnson's contribution has been outstanding, as even his adversaries concede. In this particular work, Phillip Johnson shows clearly that Darwinism (in a broad sense) cannot aspire to become a "total theory" or a "metanarrative" of reality. It's flaws on the methodological and scientific levels are more than enough to render it's metaphysical extrapolations as nothing less than a philosophical fraud. Richard Dawkins obsession with chance explanations for natural events, for instance, reminds me of someone who tries desperately to cause the "appearence of an accident" (planting, faking and explaining away the relevant evidence), just to collect the money from the insurance company. Men like Phillip Johnson, William Dembski and Michael Behe, among others, just won't let him get away with it. The Wedge of Truth allows us to see the "ideological design" (not a very intelligent one, by the way) that lies behind the whole naturalist project. Needless to say that this project has devastating effects on the realms of politics, law, human dignity, human rights, freedom and responsability,and so on. Everything would be about the purposeless life of amoral and selfish genes. This form of materialistic rationality, certainly a kind of absolutism or fundamentalism, would mean the end of reason as we know it. Fortunately this is too stupid to be true. The fact is that Darwinism tends to run away form competing ideias, maybe because it fears becoming a standard case of extinction as a result of competition. Phillip Johnson and Wedge show clearly that human reason is ultimately founded on some form of absolute Reason. The nature of this Reason seems to be far beyond the scope of scientific inquiry, but it's presence is palpable and overwhelming in nature's huge amounts of information, something both as immaterial and as real as "intellectual property" (original work of authorship in a tangible form). Information is detectable and measurable by falsefiable and scientifically sound criteria. Nature and life are not just about matter, mutations and selection. They are also about intelligence and information. Thus, the design argument has nothing (and I mean nothing!) to do with "miracles" of the "God of the Gaps", but with the intrinsic form and substance of nature (much like the original work of authorship in tangible form), something that we, as intelligent beeings have a natural capacity to recognize (v.g. intellectual property is not a monkey business)and to study. This explains the misterious continuity between the objective structure of reality and the working of our subjective reason (Darwinists just take it for granted, that which makes science both possible and meaningful. Please read The Wedge of Truth. As Immanuel Kant would put it: "Sapere aude!" (sorry for my "depleted" english)
131 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the money 10 Aug. 2000
By Matthew R. Holiday II - Published on
Phillip Johnson's best book yet -- the one I'd been waiting for. In this book he deals more with the philosophical issues and Christianity's response to those issues.
What is science? A search for TRUTH, at all costs? Or is it instrinsically bound to naturalism, a belief system? Why do evolutionists need to defend their beliefs by resorting to obfuscation and cheap propaganda?
Answers to these questions, and more, await you. This is a must-read book for anyone concerned about a philosophical movement which has had enormous negative consequences in recent history and promises worse to come; a movement dominating our culture today with little real criticism. Johnson offers the criticism, and begs for more. He also brings up what is becoming the key scientific issue (real science!): can the mechanism Darwinism describes actually create information from raw, inanimate materials (e.g., create cells with DNA and the ability to reproduce, which are necessary for natural selection even to start)?
When I was an undergrad, folks had bumper stickers that said things like "Challenge authority." It's high time we challenged the cultural "authority" of evolutionism and its negative view of the value of human life.
This book is an extension of the lead article in Touchstone magazine's double issue last summer on evolutionism (July/Aug 1999). Most of the other authors in that issue have books (Dembski, Behe, etc.) well worth reading.
60 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subverting the Dominant Paradigm 4 Aug. 2000
By Jeremy Alder - Published on
Phil Johnson's newest book is witty, incredibly insightful, and to the point. In less than two hundred pages, Johnson puts forth a devestating critique of modern materialist science and knowledge while putting forth his own models of each based on empirical investigation and the acknowledgement of personality and information as more fundemental than matter. Johnson points out that as long as chance and law are the only explanations allowed by the scientific elite as answers to the problem of the origin of genetic information, science will continue to spin its wheels in the mud and spin out more hollow just-so stories of how "evolution done it". Only when scientists recognize that complex, specified information is the hallmark of intelligent activity will the life sciences make real progress toward true explanations. A great read for the open minded.
33 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A-L or A-Z its you choice 3 Jan. 2002
By Enigma - Published on
First of all let the reader of these reviews beware. The majority of the writers have not read or simply do not have the cerebral quotient to conceive the thesis of the book. First lets delineate what this book is NOT about:
It is NOT about trying to disprove Evolution.
It is NOT about a lawyer trying to prove he knows more about science than true scientist do.
It is NOT a treatise on Intelligent Design.
But this is how the book has been characterized by many of the negative reviewers before me.
This book is about two different philosophical worldviews and how these two worldviews impact science and scientific theories. It delineates between the two opposing philosophies at hand. The book shows clearly how science and scientist are forced to accept dogmatically the philosophy of naturalism or be spurned from the scientific community.
The sad part of naturalistic belief system is that it precludes the scientist from using all of the available empirical and verifiable data as his or her disposal. It insists that they sit in a box and are only allowed to view the items in their naturalistic box. Anything that falls outside the box, even if they know it is true and has been proven to be true has to be at best ignored or at worst falsified into a non-eventuality. The bottom line is that the naturalistic scientist cannot use all the evidence at his disposal so his theories or constructs are at best weak due to the inability to view the panoply of events around him. The most curious item about naturalistic scientist is their insistence that their philosophical presuppositions make them unbiased. When in reality they are being controlled by materialistic ideals and not allowed to venture out of there box.
This in a nutshell is what this book is about, would you prefer a teacher who is teaching you child how to write to be constrained by a philosophy that the only letters in the alphabet are A-L and anything after L just doesn't exist. Or would you rather have a teacher that says balderdash; We have 26 letters and they are A-Z.
Mr. Johnson is an A-Z person. What are you?
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When will the truth be acknowledged? 20 Jan. 2002
By L. SCEARCY - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading this book and also attending one of Dr. Johnson's lectures. Like many other people I am tired of being force fed the orthodox evolutionary theories as indisputable "fact". I am also tired of the vicious censorship and character assassination that typifies the response of the science establishment to any criticism of their "positions of faith" regarding Darwinism, evolution and atheism. You can usually tell the confidence a group has in their postion on a subject by the stridency with which they reply to criticism. The stridency of the establishment's response to Dr. Johnson and others in the "design" movement should give their supporters pause to wonder that if the establishement is as comfortable with their position and "science", why are they responding as they are? If the critics are wrong, why the need to destroy them personally? The simple answer (and correct) is that both are postions on this subject are postions of faith, not of science. Dr. Johnson correctly points out in his book that science supports the design theory and that the evolutionary establishment is simply defending their faith - not logic and not science. The pendulum is beginning to swing back and it terrifies the powerbrokers of the evolutionary establishment. If you want a fair, thought provoking analysis on this subject, read this book. If you prefer being told what to believe, then continue to keep you head in the sand and watch MTV.
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