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Phil Johnson: The Seats Will Be Full

Ann Gauger

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. In days to come, Evolution News will share remembrances from Fellows of Discovery Institute and others who knew Johnson or experienced his influence. See also, “Remembering Phillip E. Johnson (1940-2019): The Man Who Lit the Match.”

Wherever Kathie Johnson decides to hold Phil Johnson’s memorial, all the seats on all the planes that head in that direction will be full.

Phil Johnson touched so many lives in person and so many more at second and third hand, we will not grasp his impact until the End.

Those who met him found him to be warm, incisive, witty, with a towering intellect and a delight in debunking hokum. He gathered around him people with fresh takes, risk takers, even renegades, scientists who believed that evolution was an incomplete explanation for the patterns of life — indeed, there was evidence that life might be designed! He gathered together those scientists in a meeting at Pajaro Dunes that formed the nucleus of the new intelligent design movement.

I never met Phil Johnson in person. I never had that grace. By the time I came along he had already had his strokes. But I still felt his presence and mourn his loss because of the impact he has had in my life and in the lives of the people I know. We have lost a great man. I can say that, never having met him, because as was said, by their fruits you shall know them. Go peacefully to your reward, Phillip Johnson, may the angels accompany you, and may peace rest upon your family.

Photo: Phillip E. Johnson, debating evolutionist Will Provine at Stanford University in 1994, via YouTube (screenshot).