|The divine comedy|
Phillip E. Johnson (1940–2019) was a UC Berkeley law professor and considered the founder of the intelligent design movement. Johnson became a born again Christian after his divorce, and then suddenly was led to believe that science did not support the theory of evolution. Of course it had absolutely nothing to do with his conversion.
Johnson popularized the term "intelligent design" in its current form in his book Darwin on Trial. Johnson decided to present evidence in the form of a trial and to use legal standards of admissibility as the ideal criterion to vet evidence. Legal criteria for evidence are very different than the standards applied in science; for starters, most legal evidence is anecdotal in nature, incorporating none of the standards of randomized controlled trials, reproducibility of experiments, or double-blind studies that characterize scientific evidence.
Johnson, and others who have taken a similar approach for a full range of woo and crank ideas, abused the difference in the standards of evidence to overstate their case. Johnson claimed that if he can prove evolution "false" under legal standards (which, essentially, amounts to not having an ironclad and irrefutable proof that the theory of evolution is true), this somehow applies to scientific standards. The whole exercise is a futile gesture, since creationism and intelligent design have failed both in the realm of science and in the realm of law. Johnson's big idea was shown the door in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District court case.
- Darwinism Under The Microscope: How Recent Scientific Evidence Points To Divine Design — a book recycling many of his arguments
- The Wedge at Work: How Intelligent Design Creationism Is Wedging Its Way into the Cultural and Academic Mainstream, Barbara Forrest. Chapter 1, Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, MIT Press, 2001