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In 1990, the anti-Darwin crusader Phillip E. Johnson sent me a manuscript of Darwin on Trial and asked for my advice about its publication.

I deferentially cautioned the chaired professor at the University of California's respected Boalt Hall School of Law that he could encounter problems finding a mainstream publisher and attracting a popular audience. I thought there were too many books that made essentially the same arguments against Darwinism for there to be much of a market for Darwin on Trial, even if it articulated those arguments far better than most.

I was decidedly wrong. After InterVarsity Press published the paperback edition, it became a standard in evangelical households and churches.

As Thomas Woodward's new Doubts About Darwin shows, Darwin on Trial not only became a bestseller within the evangelical Christian community but helped revive popular interest among conservative Protestants and Catholics in Intelligent Design (ID) as an explanation for innovation in biology.

ID is the hypothesis that highly complex organs (such as the eye) and functionally interdependent organisms (such as butterflies and flowers) reflect the handiwork of an intelligent designer (such as God).

This traditional biological concept of an intelligent designer fell from favor during the late 1800s with the ascent of Darwinism, which relied on random variation and natural selection to fine-tune organs for their uses and organisms for their environment. But some nonscientists clung to the notion of a designer behind nature, especially evangelicals who took seriously the words of Romans 1:20: "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what ...

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hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2004

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