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on 11 December 2007
Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds by Philip Johnson is a total sham of a book. If it were possible to give this minus five stars it would still be insufficient to describe how dreadful this book really is. Johnson never has any intention of opening minds in this book except to get them to accept religion and reject science. Otherwise the intention is to nail them shut against any possibility that God never did have anything to do with creation or the universe and most likely never existed in the first place. All claims that this book offers a balanced argument should be dismissed from this point forward.

Johnson, a lawyer by trade, has not a single science qualification to his name. That has not prevented him writing upon a subject of which he is largely ignorant. His understanding of science is partial in the extreme and wholly dependent upon a vast swathe of misconceptions, sweeping assertions, selective presentations of the facts and in places, outright lies. Particularly despicable is the twisting he inflicts upon Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit which Johnson has taken from Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted World". Johnson is careful not to apply his twisted version of Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit to his own writing for to do so would expose the vacuous level of his own thinking.

At the bottom of Johnson's view of our existence is the assertion that God did it. Such assertions have only the intention of appealing to those who already have a bias against science who wish to have that bias reinforced. In this respect Johnson become their hero. It would be impossible in this review to highlight all of the things Johnson get wrong, misrepresents or lies about, so I have selected just four, although it would be possible to select four hundred more.

Pg 94 We know that the Darwinian mechanism doesn't work and that complex biological system never were put together by the accumulation of random mutations through natural selection.

Johnson makes this assertion without any evidence to back it up. All attempts made by the ID brigade since the publication of this book to demonstrate what they alone term, irreducible complexity have completely failed. Only one example was ever forthcoming, the bacterial flagellum, and the research accompanying it was shown to be wrong and not an explanation of the flagellum's structure.

Pg. 113 Darwinism in the west is in much the same condition as was Soviet Marxism in its days. Its power and prestige rest not on any real scientific accomplishments but on the theory's role in upholding the ruling philosophy.

Apart from the fallacious linkage the charge of no scientific accomplishment is utterly wrong and a blatant lie. There is overwhelming evidence of the scientific achievements available in every public library. Darwin's work made possible the discovery of DNA and the genetic code that today is making a revolution in medical treatment. Johnson however will not acknowledge any of this for to do so would destroy his position.

Johnson has no intention of being honest with his readers. He is deliberately writing to deceive those who are not in a position to pull his lacklustre posturing to pieces. For this reason the writing style is not an academic one, but one that starts like a friendly chat before going on to become a thinly veiled polemic.

Pg. 114 The biologists are at each throats in private, fighting over every detail in the Darwinist scientific program.

This is Johnson's complete misrepresentation of the scientific method which requires that scientists lay their work open to attempts by others to falsify it. Johnson however twists the process to make it seem as if disagreement means a theory, in this case evolution, is false or unworkable. The only thing false is Johnson for it is his deliberate twisting that is designed to mislead the reader.

Not content with lies, misrepresentations and fact twisting, Johnson attempts to portray scientists as purveyors of a harsh soulless enterprise.
Pg. 96 There can be no science of value, or of beauty or of goodness.

That so much of the legacy of science has already improved human life is not even mentioned. That a world of near infinite beauty has been opened up in biology with human genome project matters not a jot for a man determined to put his God at the centre of creation. Stop looking for scientific answers is his message. We have the Bible. We know better than you do. Sorry Johnson. You don't know better and you are peddling ignorance.

That this book is nearly devoid of footnote references is not surprising. There must be few publications anywhere from which unadulterated quotes can be taken to back up Johnson's position. Rather Johnson turns the notes section into a diatribe for his rhetoric and opinions thus rendering even this section of the book utterly worthless.

Defeating Darwinism is a awful book. If the subject matter had been a living individual as opposed to current science Johnson would more likely than not have sued for libel and deformation of character. But because his target is science Johnson manages to duck under that hurdle. This book will appeal only if you think ID is credible, otherwise it will be a dire read. However, if you are a genetic scientist or paleontologist, get a copy to see the sort of bigotry your years of hard work earns in the minds of those who are determined to replace understanding and science with dark-age theology. You need to know how to answer these people and that is the only benefit of this otherwise awful book: Johnson has at least done us all the service of putting theism's position on paper complete with its dodgy rhetoric and outright lies so it can be challenged and answered.
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on 10 September 1997
As in his previous works Johnson demonstrates his easy familiarity with the writings of evolutionary naturalists. He stresses that the prevailing philosophy of science forbids serious challenges to evolutionary Darwinism. And the media of 20th century culture is complicit in this effort through the distorting and censoring work of what Johnson calls "Microphone Man".

Darwinists have not paid sufficient attention to the problems inherent in the informational content and irreducible complexity of matter. These two factors increasingly point to intelligent design in our world.

A few recent instances of public challenges to rethink evolutionary dogma and the massive retaliation they brought illustrate how entrenched such concepts are in our culture. The 1960 remake of the play, "Inherit The Wind" is used as a paradigm to caution readers how to operate their "baloney detectors" in evaluating poor logic and cultural chicanery directed at any serioius challenge to the prevailing scientific myth of Darwinism.

"Defeating Darwinism" is a good overview of the issues facing anyone who seriously questions the entrenched intellectual presuppositions of the scientific enterprise in today's world. Johnson concludes with a call to Christians to enter the battle armed with historic convictions, penetrating logic and expectations that the truth will triumph at last.
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on 18 July 1999
If you've been a fan of Stephen Gould's, as I was for many years, you've noticed from time to time little -- ahem -- difficulties in his easy, engaging arguments and analogies. Gosh, you said to yourself, I didn't quite see the transition there but that's just me, surely. After all, it *had* to be this way, didn't it? I mean, everything came out of somewhere to here, right? Like, Darwinism's not brain surgery.
Well, Phillip Johnson argues that it is. Darwinism is a device for grounding materialism in the culture such that any objection to it can be reflexively dismissed as "fundamentalist" or an "attack on science" conducted by "lawyers" or "Christians". And, he further argues, the trick is done with smoke and mirrors, the sort of dazzle that professors of law like Johnson are skilled in detecting and tracking. Oddly enough, scientists are not very good at this sort of thing (few of us are these days), and only a couple seem worried over all these rhetorical leaps across chasms of missing data to dogma. Darwinism, like Marxism and Freudian psychology, is arguably a failed attempt to account for ourselves *in spite* of what we know. This book is an eye-opener: if it hadn't been written especially for Christians, I'd like to see it everywhere a high school kid might pick it up. It's almost as important to keep children from worshipping false gods as it is to set them looking for the true.
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on 1 November 1998
Like his past books, Johnson deftly shows the flaws in evolutional theory. Anyone who reads this and his other books and still thinks evolution is real does not understand real science in the least. This book is well-written and to the point. He doesn't argue from religion, but shows that science itself says evolution does not happen.
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on 11 January 1998
This book does not delve into the scientific arguments - the author did this in an earlier work (darwin on trial, 1991). The current work could appropriately carry the subheading "an exercise in clear thinking" or even "how not to have the wool pulled over your eyes". Many instances of sleight of hand are exposed. One typical instance is the use of examples of microevolution as proof of macroevolution; another is the assumption that similarity is evidence of descent, even when that similarity is due to intelligent design, as in the "evolution" of automobile models!

A whole chapter, and more, discusses the film "Inherit the Wind". Being a gross distortion of the real Scopes Trial, it has been very effective in perpetuating a public illusion in darwinism's favour.

The book is an entertaining read, even thought it deals with serious issues. Unfortunately it lacks an index - a book without an index is somewhat like a town without a map!
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on 22 January 1999
There is so much wrong with this book I don't know where to begin. In the first chapter the author tries to make the reader believe that scientists cannot possibly have a poetic bone in their bodies (the Grand Canyon example). The point the author is missing is that perhaps scientists know when to put aside the fantasy and use some reality when explaining something. Also, the whole chapter on baloney detection is a disgrace. The author completely misrepresents Mr. Sagan's ideas on "baloney detection." Mr. Sagan, in "The Demon-Haunted World", stressed that we should use his "baloney detection kit" on everything, not just those ideas that we dislike. Mr. Johnson, however, hypocritically asserts that Mr. Sagan would not use the kit on the theory of evolution and yet the author (perhaps fearing the outcome) definitely didn't turn the kit on his own (religious) theory. Furthermore, in an amazing display of ignoring the obvious the author mentions the Archaeopteryx and Ambulocetus fossils and instead of giving an explanation for their existence he instead uses the illogical argument that "few fossils=no evolution." Either the author doesn't understand the fossil record (fossils are not easily made in nature, and there will be more fossils found as time goes on), or he simply wants to misinform his audience. There is so much more wrong with this book but I'll end my critique with pointing out that the author doesn't seem to understand that science must look for "natural" explanations to phenomena. Just to say "God did it" would mean that no further investigation would be necessary. And that would be the end of science.
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on 26 July 1998
This accurate,powerfully-documented book is wonderful for any evolutionist. It basically de-bunks all evolution's myths. It IS time to get minds open. Huge amounts of facts supported Creation and not evolution.
People who give this book bad reviews surprisingly ignore the content and go striaght to the "He's just a lawyer" attacts. Insults about quoting and other non-sense are distractions to get you not to read it. Perhaps they simply haven't read it or are too scared to admit this makes perfect sense,the facts are accurate,and the content causes of major blow to Darwinism. Time to open minds. But,if you want to continue to be CLOSED minded,and don't want an excellent book that actually opens minds,ignore this book.
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on 3 July 1999
Anyone who believes that man, animals, or even simple, reproducing, life forms evolved by accident after reading this book, DOESN'T GET THE JOKE! Religion is a set of closely held beliefs, often requiring blind faith. This is a convincing argument that Macroevolution (that life evolved without intelligent design) is it's own religion. And it requires even more faith than most popular religions. Whether you believe in a creator or not, this will help open your eyes to the charade brought about by the scientific establishment that they call evolution. I don't believe that creation should be taught in schools, but I would like to see the evidence that clearly contradicts evolution taught. Let people see the whole truth, not just selected bits!
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on 15 February 1999
The highly negative reviews of this book shown here are the output of minds closed by faith in the religion called naturalism. I can see people disagreeing with the facts of this book, but to slam it as sophistry is a joke... it reminds me of the comments of uninformed Christians which make sweeping remarks on subjects they know little about [and in so doing, hurt the cause]. Let's face it, schools [from grammar to graduate] force feed naturalism w/ only derision for dissenting voices. Johnson's clear and fair presentation is a must read for anyone w/ an open mind and an interest in the facts... those who have a strong faith in naturalism and who are unwilling to change their minds no matter what should buy another copy of "Origin of Species".
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on 21 December 1997
Once again, Phillip Johnson has written a supremely reasoned, readable, and revelant book on Darwinism. This is a great book for those who love critical thinking and need effective tools to try to open the minds that have been closed by years of indoctrination in the theory of particles-to-people evolution. This is definitely one of the best books I have read in my 25 years of studying the creation-evolution controversy.
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