Playing Fast and Loose with the Facts: How Ken Miller Misrepresented Phil Johnson - Evolution News & Views

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Playing Fast and Loose with the Facts: How Ken Miller Misrepresented Phil Johnson

An old debate, featuring Dr. Kenneth Miller and Dr. Paul Nelson, has found its way onto YouTube. The debate took place at the time of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in Pennsylvania in 2005. Moderated by Sally Satel at the American Enterprise Institute, it focuses on the question of teaching evolutionary theory and intelligent design in science classrooms.

Ken Miller's presentation is predictable: He talks about the type III secretion system and the fusion origin of chromosome 2; about how ID is allegedly nothing more than a negative argument against evolution and really a form of disguised creationism. His arguments have been so thoroughly responded to here at ENV and elsewhere that further discussion is unnecessary.

I do, however, want to draw attention to a particular moment in the debate, which you can view for yourself by playing the above video from 39 minutes in. Miller quotes Phil Johnson as stating:

The objective [of the Wedge Strategy] is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to "the truth" of the Bible and then "the question of sin" and finally "introduced to Jesus."
On his PowerPoint slide, Ken Miller even provides a citation to Church & State magazine, and it turns out that this very article is available online.

You will find that the quote from Miller's PowerPoint presentation is not from the pen of Phil Johnson at all. Rather, it is a paraphrase or (more accurately) a caricature of Johnson by Rob Boston, a critic of ID! Here's the passage from the original article:

A second speaker itching to get his religious perspective into public schools is Phillip Johnson, a University of California at Berkeley law professor who has written several books attacking evolution. Asserting that Darwinism is "based on awful science, just terrible," Johnson said the theory has "divided the people of God" and that means "the way is open for the agnostics to say, 'We need to put all of this aside.'"

Johnson calls his movement "The Wedge." The objective, he said, is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to "the truth" of the Bible and then "the question of sin" and finally "introduced to Jesus."

Surprisingly, this quotation is attributed to Johnson on several webpages (e.g. here, here, and here), although Wikipedia does correctly attribute the statement.