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Phil Johnson Helped Set the Course of My Life

Brian Miller

Phillip E. Johnson

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from staff, friends, and Fellows of Discovery Institute. Dr. Miller is Research Coordinator for the Center for Science & Culture.

Phillip Johnson was instrumental in my involvement with the intelligent design movement. During my early years of graduate school, I was wrestling with the question of whether I was an unintended accident of nature or the product of a Creator. I first explored this question through reading the books The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, by Richard Dawkins, and Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton. 

Denton’s book clearly contained more substantive arguments, and this swayed me toward the conclusion of design. Then, about 1992, I read Johnson’s Darwin on Trial. It both reaffirmed many of Denton’s main points and exposed the circular reasoning undergirding evolutionary claims.

I was so impressed by Johnson’s logic and insight that, around 1994, I called him and asked if I could visit him at Berkeley. He agreed, so I flew out to the Bay Area and met with him in his office. After encouraging my desire to learn the truth, he put me in contact with many of the future leaders of the intelligent design movement, including Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells. My meeting with Phil Johnson set the course of my life which led me to where I am today. 

Photo: Phillip E. Johnson gives a lecture on Darwin on Trial, via YouTube (screenshot).