Johnson was born on June 19, 1940, in Aurora, Illinois. Graduating with an major in English Literature from Harvard, Johnson continued his education by attending the University of Chicago and studying law. He then worked as a clerk for the California Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Traynor and the U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Deciding to teach, Johnson gained acceptance as a faculty member at the Boalt School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley in 1967 and has held the position of Professor Emeritus since 2000.
After a difficult time in his life, Johnson became a born-again Christian. From then on he found a new purpose in life. Though not a biologist or expert in the sciences, he believed that Darwin's theory of evolution was flawed. Rather than debating Biblical principles, Johnson focuses on the authenticity of God. His point is to get this belief into the school system in order for people to question the logic of the evolution theory. Johnson speaks out in order to convince people of God's existence and that nature couldn't produce the world on its own accord. This he calls the "Wedge Strategy." In his book The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism, Johnson maintains that science and religion can coexist and are compatible.
As a critic of the theory of evolution, Johnson put forth the idea of intelligent design instead. Intelligent design maintains that best explaining the universe and all that is living is possible by accepting that it is by God's design and not by natural selection, or survival of the fittest. Bringing people together with these similar views, Johnson co-founded the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. He serves as its program advisor and wrote the first draft of the Santorum Amendment that promotes teaching intelligent design in public schools.
For a time, Johnson spoke widely throughout the United States, but after several minor brain strokes, he has limited his public activities. Several of Johnson's books include: Bound Only Once, Darwin on Trial, and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Johnson also writes the "Leading Edge" column for Touchstone Magazine. For his contributions to society Johnson has been awarded the Wilberforce Award, the Daniel of the Year Award by World Magazine, and the "Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth."
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