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Darwin on Trial Paperback – December 3, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his own era, Darwin's most formidable opponents were fossil experts, not clergymen. Even today, according to the author, the fossil record, far from conclusive, does not support the presumed existence of intermediate links between species. A law teacher at UC-Berkeley, Johnson deems unpersuasive the alleged proofs for Darwin's assertion that natural selection can produce new species. He also argues that recent molecular studies of DNA fail to confirm the existence of common ancestors for different species. Doubting the smooth line of transitional steps between apes and humans sketched by neo-Darwinists, he cites evidence for "rapid branching," i.e., mysterious leaps which presumably produced the human mind and spirit from animal materials. This evidence, to Johnson, suggests that "the putative hominid species" may not have contained our ancestors after all. This cogent, succinct inquiry cuts like a knife through neo-Darwinist assumptions.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Dissecting the writings of Gould, Futuyama, Darwin, and Dawkins with a trenchant sword, law professor Johnson uses an attorney's reasoning to scrutinize the scientists' logic in defining the theory of evolution. Contending that science has distorted research rules to exclude Divine Creation in explaining the diversity of life, Johnson challenges the tenets of natural selection and the evolutionary evidence from fossils and genetic and molecular sources. In the closing chapters, he deals with Darwinism in education and in religion, stating that the evolutionary theory is protected for its "indispensable ideological role in the war against fundamentalism." While the book presents a skewed view of the scientific process, occasionally losing all pretense of objectivity, it may be of value to lay readers seeking a creationist perspective on evolution.
- Frank Reiser, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, N.Y.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; 2 edition (December 3, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830813241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830813247
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 112 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
Although most of his arguments are not new, Johnson brings the most important points together in a remarkably concise yet comprehensive format. He has a gift for summarizing the research in each field, then explaining and elucidating the implications of an issue, in just enough words to make it understandable.
He points out the mind-boggling complexity of structures like wings and eyes, but does not dwell on these descriptions like some critics, for he realizes that nearly all informed people agree that living things are that complex. The Darwinian Richard Dawkins writes, "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose," but insists that "Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning."
The premise that appearance can be misleading is not unreasonable. Scientists proved the appearance of the sun revolving around the earth to be an illusion. The problem, which constitutes Johnson's central scientific premise, is that there is no evidence that natural selection has the immense creative power Darwinians attribute to it. The Darwinian claim that the numerous theoretical difficulties with Darwinism are false is based not on scientific fact but almost entirely on pure speculation.
Johnson is not a scientist, but his central thesis is philosophical. Darwinians insist that considering divine intervention is unacceptable because science is committed to purely natural explanations.
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34 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
It's fascinating to read the few negative reviews of this excellent book that have been posted here. If nothing else, they amply demonstrate the the deeply held bias of evolutionists towards scientism so aptly exposed by Johnson.
If you closely read each of the reviews, you'll notice that, once again, his critics fail to actually to respond to any of the arguments Johnson makes. Instead, they resort to ad hominem attacks in the usual attempt of the scientific "establishment" to marginalize the views of anyone who dares disagree with the prevailing orthodoxy, which for the moment is Darwinian evolution. Johnson has exposed Darwinian evolution for what it is: a theory frantically searching for confirming evidence and finding precious little. All their attempts to marginalize the criticism of Darwin's theory as "anti-science" or "creationist" are simply begging the question. They refuse to admit that which would be obvious to an impartial observer: the theory that people evolved from a single microbial cell through natural selection sounds plausible, but has no confirming evidence and would have been discounted long ago if so many didn't have so much invested in it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book provides an excellent balance to the many one sided arguments touted by evolution supporters. It provides a clear explanation of the many holes in the theory of evolution and clarifies that, while many tout the theory as fact, the fact is that it is still a theory. Johnson is a lawyer, and provides his arguments from a lawyer's perspective. While one at first would argue that a scientist should be making these arguments, a lawyer truly is the best one to write this book. Truly scientists are needed to provide the many scientific details which are cited in the book, but with the absence of clear physical proof of either the theory of evolution or the theory of creationism, we must turn to legal arguments, citing the evidence, to draw our verdict. Johnson does an excellent job of presenting his arguments. He does not do so one sidedly, but meerly raises the questions which beg to be raised by some one not willing to blindly accept evolution. And in the end, he shows that these questions can not be answered. This book should be a must read in every science class in the United States. While the reader may continue to believe in evolution, at least one would understand that those who do not have a logical basis for not believing.
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83 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Hitchings on April 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have finally read this book, after years of reading criticisms of it, and I am amazed at what a good case Johnson actually makes and how woefully inept most of his critics have been.
For those who have not read the book, Johnson argues the following points:
* The scientific establishment, rather than defending evolution against criticism, has determined that no such criticism shall take place.
* Evolution is defined so loosely that no criticism of it is possible.
* The term "natural selection" is a tautology and so explains nothing.
* The experimental evidence for Darwinism does not provide "any persuasive reason for believing that natural selection can produce new species, new organs, or other major changes, or even minor changes that are permanent."
* Darwinians are so clever at finding evidence that confirms their theory and explaining the evidence that appears to contradict it, that it looks as if all the evidence is supportive.
* The theory of sexual selection contradicts the theory of natural selection.
* Haeckel's hypothesis that "ontology recapitulates phylogeny" is still taught in schools despite being completely discredited more than a century ago. (This I know to be true, as I still teach a syllabus which requires it.)
* Darwinian theory is not falsifiable, because its supporters cannot or will not make the risky predictions which would allow it to be falsified.
* Anyone who questions the orthodoxy of scientific naturalism, or Darwinism in particular, is rigorously persecuted by the scientific establishment.
This must be one of the most vilified books ever written.
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