Creationism Requires Great Courage

The Discovery Institute is returning to something they blogged about many times before. At their creationist website they just posted Stephen Meyer on Phillip Johnson’s Courage, and it has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

On a classic episode of ID The Future [Ooooooooooooh! A Discoveroid podcast!], Stephen Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, honors Phillip Johnson, the UC Berkeley law professor who helped ignite the modern intelligent design movement with the publication of his important book Darwin on Trial.

The Discoveroids linked to something strange, but here’s Johnson’s book at Amazon: Darwin on Trial.

You may recall that Johnson died a bit more than years ago, referring to him as the “Godfather of Intelligent Design.” We posted Discoveroid Phillip E. Johnson Has Died.

The Discoveroids then posted about the guy almost daily. Two weeks later, when it was all winding down, we wrote Our Last Phillip Johnson Post? The Discoveroids were promoting “a brief public symposium in honor of the late Phillip E. Johnson.” The speakers were “intelligent design scientists” who were “directly impacted by Phil’s life and have since become the ID torch-bearers for our generation.”

In our Curmudgeonly way, we wrote: “Torch bearers for intelligent design — that’s like being a drum-beater for the Time Cube.” But that’s history. Here’s what the Discoveroids say in their new post:

Meyer says Johnson had the courage to speak up when others wouldn’t.

Ooooooooooooh! He had the courage. Then the Discoveroids tell us:

“The overweening dynamic of this debate is fear,” Meyer says. [Gasp!] “There are many many many people who have come up to the water’s edge, who have seen the problems with Darwinian evolution, have counted the cost, and recoiled.”

Are you one of those frightened people, dear reader? This may be your opportunity to acquire some courage. The Discoveroids end their inspirational post with this:

But one law professor did not recoil. [How wonderful!] As Meyer put it, “Johnson had the guts.” Download the podcast or listen to it here. [Link omitted!]

Verily, Johnson was an amazing man. You agree, don’t you, dear reader?

Copyright © 2022. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

15 responses to “Creationism Requires Great Courage

  1. I’ve not read Darwin on Trial, but ISTR from my reading of Defeating Darwin by Opening Minds that Johnson was quite open about his ignorance of the mere detail of evolution science. Would the rest of DI were that honest!

  2. Theodore Lawry

    ID likes to talk about Darwin on Trial but not “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds.” In that book (p. 11) Johnson says:

    “The fundamental fact about the human situation is that we are captured by sin, and we cannot escape from the sin by our own efforts, however enlightened and humane those efforts may be. That is why the Word had to become flesh and dwell among us. There really is a heavenly Father and a risen Savior who can save fallen souls….”

    Oh really, Johnson says it is a “fact” that we are all “captured by sin” regardless of whether we do anything wrong! If that is what Johnson believes is a “fact,” no excuse me, “the fundamental fact about the human situation,” then who is the one who is blinded by bias? And if that is what he really wants us to believe, why is he wasting his time arguing about evolution? How many people today find their religious inspiration in the doctrine that we all share in the “collective guilt” of Adam and Eve for eating an apple? (“In Adam’s Fall, we sinned all.”) If Johnson were to come out and campaign openly for teaching his brand of fundamentalism in the schools, the evolutionists would be the smallest, least vehement part of the firestorm of opposition.

    Johnson has not just gotten religion, he has gotten Christian dogma and to a degree worthy of the Middle Ages. The ability to claim with a straight face that everyone, including Buddhists, Muslims, etc., must accept Jesus as “Savior” or be tortured in hell for all eternity might have been tactically useful back in the 5th century when evangelicals were still converting Europe to Christianity. (My daughter’s comment is that if they were true Christians, those evangelicals would have offered to go to hell in the place of the infidels!)

    But for a modern person to suggest, or rather insist that “Adam’s Fall” is the foundation for understanding life, morality, and the universe, is absolutely breathtaking. If you think I am exaggerating, here’s what Johnson says about his view of Christianity and evolution. p. 111)

    “…the conflict between the naturalistic worldview and the Christian supernaturalist worldview goes all the way down. It cannot be papered over by superficial compromises, … It cannot be mitigated by reading the Bible figuratively rather than literally. From a modernist perspective, biblical Christianity is just as wrong figuratively as it is literally. The story of salvation by the cross makes no sense against a background of evolutionary naturalism. The evolutionary story is a story of humanity’s climb from animal beginnings to rationality, not a story of a fall from perfection. It is a story about recognizing gods as illusions, not a story about recognizing God as the ultimate reality we are always trying to escape. It is a story about learning to rely entirely on human intelligence, not a story of the helplessness of that intelligence in the face of the inescapable fact of sin.”

    There is no satisfactory way to bring two such fundamentally different stories together though various bogus intellectual systems offer a superficial compromise to those who are willing to overlook a logical contradiction or two. A clear thinker simply has to go one way or another.

    The logic, if I can use the word, seems to be that Johnson wants Jesus to be the world’s one and only “Savior,” and to support that belief he swallows, hook, line, and sinker, the theological “backstory” that all humanity was cursed by Adam’s Fall, since removing that “original sin” is exactly what we need a Savior for. In Johnson’s “supernaturalist worldview” God punished not just Adam and Eve for their disobedience, but all generations yet unborn. That seems fair.

    Thousands of years later, God got around to producing a Savior, so that those who became Christians would be spared eternal hellfire. Rather hard luck on all those people who died before Christ was born, since they had no chance to be saved. This was such a glaring problem that Catholic theologians invented Limbo, a sort of halfway heaven for the good people who died before Jesus’s birth. Limbo also held the children who died before their Christian parents could have them baptized. Everyone understands that an eternal curse leveled against all humanity by God Almighty can be lifted by having a priest sprinkle some water on you.

    Johnson’s “clear thinker” insists that we must believe all this “Christian” dogma, which means that evolution is a doctrine of the damned. Literally damned, if you believe in evolution you can’t possibly accept Jesus as your Savior and must therefore go to Hell.

  3. Plato, Protagoras 350c
    Well, those who are thus ignorantly confident show themselves not courageous but mad.

  4. When wingnuts need a bigger wingnut, he’s the one they call. Literally a wingnut’s wingnut.

  5. Theodore Lawry, I was struck by the sentence you quoted from Johnson:
    “The story of salvation by the cross makes no sense against a background of evolutionary naturalism.”

    I agree with him on that. Only I would go much further: The story of salvation by the cross makes no sense in any Universe in which there is such a thing as related cause and effect. It makes no sense at all in any remotely rational fashion. How can the agonised death by torture of an innocent possibly imply or involve the possibility of remittal of an eternity of torture for the rest of the species? There is no remotely reasonable causal link between the two. And consider the inverse, if you can: God loves the world so much that He performs this utterly insane transaction to prevent Himself from torturing everyone for eternity!

    I was a child when I heard that narrative. Narrative it is, and narrative has enormous power. To comprehend a narrative, the human hearing it will usually simply accept its premises, however contrary to reality or rational causation they may be. Storytellers have relied on that power since forever. Thus, as a child, I accepted it.

    But step outside the narrative, examine it for attachment to reality, and it loses that power. What does this narrative use as a premise? What else but that the Being who created the Universe is stark insane, a monster of infinite psychopathy, but so deeply riven of nature that the only way it can somehow restrain itself from torturing every living being forever is by having them torture Itself.

    I didn’t step outside of that narrative until I began to construct formal narratives myself. Doing that requires that you use consciously the tools by which narrative is constructed, and thus come to recognise them. Well, at least it had that effect on me.

    Phillip Johnson went the other way, apparently. His legal training appears to have insulated him from any consideration of why the situation is as it is. A lawyer doesn’t question the law. It never seems to have crossed his mind that it can be and should be examined. For Johnson, it just is, as it was for me – when I was a child.

    St Paul remarked that when he was a child, he thought as a child, but has now put away childish things. Not having a Gospel to consult – they were written later – he was probably not aware that Jesus had told him that he had to become as a child, or would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

    I hope that Phillip Johnson, having stayed as a child, has entered that Kingdom. Why should I wish him ill? What harm has he done me? The question is, would he wish the same for me? Or would he turn away from my anguish with a shudder, and thank the God who was inflicting it that he, Phillip Johnson, was not like me.

    “I thank Thee that I am not like unto this sinner”. The Pharisee’s prayer, yet! Strange, how narrative tends to come full circle.

  6. @Dave Luckett
    Is the Incarnation, the infinite step
    from God down to the finite man, enough? The finite torture and death does not seem to add to much to the infinite. What does orthodoxy say?

  7. @Theodore Lawry pulls a @Dave Luckett, and wakes the beast

  8. TomS: That is, was it enough for Jesus to have lived, and His death by barbarous torture was unnecessary? If so, why would Jesus’s own prayer to be spared be either necessary, or denied? The crucifixion would appear, as Jesus said Himself, to have been the Will of God. That is, it was not enough for Jesus to have been incarnated. He had to die, and die in this fashion, because that was the Will of God. If that be accepted, then the rest follows. But why was that God’s Will?

    As to Orthodoxy, I am not to pronounce upon it. A view of His death, specifically on the cross, as necessary turns out to be surprisingly thin, as Christian doctrine goes. The doctrine of atonement does not appear as such in the Gospels or the NT generally, but it has a fairly ancient provenance, although it is certainly not the only way in which His death is explained. The only Gospel references are to an idea of redemption in the sense of purchase or ransom. But I can find no orthodox view that His death was unnecessary, and that the incarnation was sufficient.

  9. Maybe the LORD wanted to atone for Gary Oldman so badly delivering the “What sweet music they make” line in Dracula, or for Gary Busey being too big a loudmouth in The Buddy Holly Story, although when was he ever not.

  10. Phillip Johnson displayed all the courage and intestinal fortitude of the Emperor who went parading in his New Clothes…

  11. Seriously though, is that all Gary Busey knows is yelling at everyone? Even Gary Oldman quiet-yells once in a while. How are people not exhausted watching the lesser Gary?

  12. Dave Luckett:
    “Not having a Gospel to consult – they were written later –”

    He *might* have had Mark available, and Q was probably around.

  13. Theodore Lawry notes

    The logic, if I can use the word, seems to be that Johnson wants Jesus to be the world’s one and only “Savior,”

    And sadly, he’s not the only such whackadoodle; cf. lTrump ally Michael Flynn condemned over call for ‘one religion’ in US:

    “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God and one religion under God.”

    Absolutely no prizes for guessing which religion Flynn thinks that must be…

  14. @Megalonyx
    My guess is the Southern Baptist Convention.

  15. KeithB: Q is possible. It was almost certainly simply a list of Jesus’s sayings, but we have no real idea what was in it. But that the saying, “unless you become as a child…” appears in some form in all three synoptic Gospels is some evidence that it might have been in Q. But 1 Corinthians is overwhelmingly thought to have been written in 52 or 53, and the earliest credible date for Mark is about a decade later. So I’ll stick with what I wrote.