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A respected law professor turned theologian, Johnson presents a fascinating and logical examination of Darwinism and more current forms of evolutionary theory. Johnson's book is refreshingly free from blanket statements about his subject. He seeks to open the debate on evolution, acknowledging the contributions of the scientific community at large whilst recognising the limited 'proof' that the available evidence provides.
For anyone interested in a subversive but balanced view of Darwinist evolutionary theory as ideology, or anyone clinging to the hope that their purpose in life is more than producing reproductive offspring, this is compelling reading. It ought to be compelling and challenging reading for Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins fans too - if they are brave enough to read it. Johnson has become Gould and Dawkins' nominated nemesis - due, in no small part to the strength and profound logic of his arguments. Definitely worthy of your further investigation.
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on 10 April 2014
Molecular biologist Michael Denton considered this book "Unquestionably the best critique of Darwinism I have ever read". Professor of Biological Science Michael Behe calls it a "classic masterpiece". David Raup, Avery Distinguished Service Professor (emeritus) of Geophysical Sciences, Evolutionary Biology, and The Conceptual Foundations of Science at the University of Chicago, said in an interview with journalist Larry Witham, "Phil's done a superb Job. He's really done his homework. It's phenomenal the way he absorbed the field. Now, many people would say, 'He doesn't know anything. That's obvious from the first page.' That's often said without *reading* the first page." In a phone call to Thomas Woodward (Ass. Prof. of Communication, Science and Theology, Trinity College of Florida, Tampa) Raup said “Johnson’s work is very good scholarship, and of course, this is widely denied. He cannot be faulted; he did his homework, and he understands 99 percent of evolutionary biology.”

Raup is a committed evolutionist, yet is fair-minded enough to give full credit to an opponent, a rare quality in committed evolutionists. Far more common is the attitude of those who charge the author with ignorance while ignoring his arguments. Such critics are more interested in reinforcing their prejudices than in truth.

Reinforcing prejudices was exemplified by the editors of Scientific American. They published a scathing review by Stephen Gould of the book's first edition, that occupied four pages in their July 1992 issue, yet "refused to print my response or any letters from readers, although I know they received many." They obviously thought it was their business to shield their readers from the author's heresies. Such censorship was an insult to the intelligence of their readers, who should have been allowed to hear both sides of the argument and decide for themselves.

The book deals not only with the scientific aspect of evolution, but also the equally important philosophical and social aspects. The chapters entitled "Darwinist Education" and "Science and Pseudoscience" are especially informative.

The author carefully documents his sources in the Research Notes at the back of his book, so readers can check them out. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so read the book, chew over its arguments, and make up your own mind.
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on 3 January 2011
This is a well structured and coherent text in which the eminent law professor clearly lays out his arguments. The premise is that a non-biologist may offer a convincing riposte to the vast body of evidence built up in favour of evolution. However, the book is far too short to offer any kind of convincing argument, and while the author has done a good job of choosing relevant information to make himself appear knowledgable, the case he presents is at worst disingenuous, as he neglects to paint the whole picture of the supporting evidence from the entire subject of biology, as set out in, for example, Dawkins' book "The Greatest Show on Earth".

My big problem is, what makes a law professor think that he can offer convincing arguments against one of the most established scientific theories of our time? I suspect that he would not be so bold as to present arguments against inflationary theory in cosmology (far less evidence) or the heliocentric model of the solar system (about as equally convincing as evolution). No, the only reason that any non-specialist would feel so confident in writing about such a subject is that it is evolution - and the man clearly lays out early on, lest he be accused of bias, that he is a christian. Although not said explicitly, the idea that God could possibly interfere to guide or accelerate the evolutionary process clearly appeals to him, as he fails to provide a suitable alternative explanation, other than supernatural, for the processes which he feels are not explained adequately by the modern synthesis. The sad thing is, the man will be preaching to the converted to many people whose religious beliefs guide them away from accepting the truth of evolutionary fact and it's excellent explanatory power.

The claim that Johnson is, as a professor of law, highly qualified to pronounce on the truth or otherwise of scientific theories surprises me further when the level or proof that would seem to satisfy the author is far greater than that required in a court of law to convict a murderer or rapist. the book argues that because there are gaps in the fossil record and because we have never seen speciation happen right in front of our eyes (how would this be possible anyway?!), this somehow undermines the entire edifice and network of supporting evidence. Yet such is the level of determined disbelief that the actual requirement of 'proof' is absurdly high. He also states that the theory cannot be falsified - well perhaps in the strict Popperian sense, but most scientists regard that requirement as far too strict for the requirement of working scientists. Anyway, as Haldane said, the theory could easily be falsified by "rabbits in the Precambrian". It hasn't been.

Anyway, this book will only convince people who are already convinced. Do yourself a favour and read a book that sets out the beauty of the theory in relation to all of the subjects - biology, zoology, genetics, geology etc. that provide the level of supporting evidence that has led to the theory being accepted, in full not part, not only by scientists, but the pope, the Archbishop etc.
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on 8 December 2004
This book puts into words a lot of the feelings of implausibility that I often have when Darwinism is presented. As Johnson points out, Darwinists are as "religious" as anyone else and some have blown this whole thing up out of proportion by wishful atheistic philosophical conjecture. It is high time this hot air ballon was punctured by some pinpricks of reality and brought down to size. What is left is empirical evidence for evolution which points only to slight deviations in population, not an explanation for how life began or the human kind came to be.
Furthermore this kind of conjecture that postulates survival of the fittest, rather than a good Creator God as the ultimate cause and value can be(and has been) very damaging in its implications for our world
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on 9 November 2012
I bought this book as a gift for friends who are enthralled by a book they just read by a leading scientist on the Theory of Evolution. I believe that this will give them (and you) food for thought as it is a thought-provoking analysis of the very basis of the arguments and propositions of the theory. I read this book years ago and think it is a stimulating read which promotes critical thinking about the basis, the underlying premises of scientifc theories.Darwin on Trial
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on 22 February 2016
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 only look to the Salem Witch Trials - so brilliantly recreated in Arthur Miller's play THE CRUCIBLE - to see how far the legal profession has come from embracing supernatural explanations to relying instead on credible, reasonable evidence (However, even today, it isn't totally perfect, since some lawyers have relied on quack scientists such as some who think they can find bite marks on long buried corpses.).

In twelve relatively short chapters Johnson valiantly tries to make the case that there isn't any evidence for Darwinian evolution, that evolutionary biologists are guilty of committing the crime of tautology for using circular reasoning in citing evidence which supports evolution, and that Darwinisim - and by extension, science, itself - has become a religion since it cloaks itself in a "naturalistic" philosophy which rejects any notion of a Creator intervening in natural processes. Oddly enough, Johnson has the temerity to cite philosopher Karl Popper's falsifiability criterion for good science in explaining why evolution isn't science, but instead, a religion. However, Johnson fails to mention how a "theistic science" - one which acknowledges the possiblity of supernatural intervention - would be consistent with Popper's reasoning.

Like classic Young Earth Creationists such as Henry Morris and Duane Gish, Johnson dismisses much of the scientific evidence for evolution. For example, he distorts the important work done by distinguished ecologists Peter and Rosemary Grant on the Galapagos finches; undoubtedly one of our finest ongoing field studies of microevolution and Natural Selection. He also trivializes the important work of Brown University biologist Hermon Carey Bumpus which demonstrated how natural selection works, sarcastically noting that Bumpus killed dying sparrows so he could do his scientific research (Actually these birds were dying, and Bumpus did try saving them, but Johnson ignores this point to make the case that Bumpus was insensitive towards his subjects.).

Instead of reading DARWIN ON TRIAL, I would strongly recommend reading Robert Pennock's TOWER OF BABEL, Kenneth Miller's FINDING DARWIN'S GOD and ONLY A THEORY: EVOLUTION AND THE BATTLE FOR AMERICA'S SOUL, and Philip Kitcher's ABUSING SCIENCE - all of which have devestatingly effective critiques of creationism and its advocates, including Johnson. Of these four books, Pennock's tome does an excellent job pointing out the close intellectual kinship between traditional young earth creationism and Intelligent Design.
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"Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother." -- Zechariah 7:9 (NKJV)

If you have been interested in evolution for any length of time, you know about the Scopes trial where William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow squared off over evolution. In Darwin on Trial, professor and attorney Phillip Johnson plays judge in assessing the proof for and against Darwin's theory of evolution, Neo-Darwinism, and more recent arguments. In doing so, he relies on legal rules and principles. As an attorney, I am familiar with such rules, but I fear that most readers aren't. Consequently, I believe that those who will get the most from this book are legally trained readers, rather than scientists or laypeople.

Professor Johnson states what many people don't realize: That micro-evolution on a small and limited scale within a species is accepted by almost everyone.

Differences of opinion come in terms of whether major classes of life emerge from prior classes. Since none of us were there, we have to rely on indirect evidence.

Professor Johnson leans most heavily on what has been located in the fossil record and what has been learned about biological divergences among species. These items of evidence don't show a continuous evolution from single-celled creatures to man because there are large gaps in the fossil record, transitional types are missing, and it's hard to imagine how some biological gaps might have been crossed (if they were).

He also looks at how many arguments in popular literature about evolution rely on examples that don't prove the case for what might have happened earlier, ways that the conclusion is assumed from the way the question is posed, and the nature of scientific thought holding to a theory until a replacement comes along.

In using different perspective to look at the argument for evolution, much of the ground is covered several times to make different points. That way of organizing the book will make it less accessible to those who would prefer a single line of argument that avoids repetition of evidence. At times, I felt I was back in law school.

But if you want to read a non-scientific, non-Scriptural look at evolution, Darwin on Trial can be a useful starting point to appreciate the major arguments for and against evolution.
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on 30 September 2010
With this work, Professor Johnson provides an intelligent critique on the theory of evolution but, most importantly, explains how philosophically biased Darwinism has become, and that it requires as much faith as any religious system.
This book demonstrates that scientists don't have all the answers as they would like us to believe, and that they do not really have a clue on how we got here, but they insist on presenting evolution as the truth to keep their academic credibility.
The book provides many interesting points for discussion and I highly recommend it to anybody interested in today's debate on evolution.
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on 23 November 2010
Very quick delivery and excellent service from Amazon and considering it was second hand, the book was in very good condition.
The book is very well written and extremely interesting, particularly for someone who believes in an intelligent designer or for someone with an open mind.
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on 4 June 2015
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