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The Right Questions
An Interview with Phillip E. Johnson

Item# V036
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Phillip Johnson helped shape the Intelligent Design movement by teaching people how to ask the right questions. Similarly, true academic freedom is not about having all the answers. It's about teaching people how to ask all the right questions. In his book The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning & Public Debate (InterVarsity Press, 2002), Professor Johnson teaches us how to put a variety of contemporary topics on the witness stand-such as education, science, logic, tolerance, gender and liberty-and unwrap the confusion by asking the right questions. For example, Johnson informs us to inquire:

  • Why is it always wrong to mix science and religion?
  • What is the ultimate premise, the beginning point, from which logic should proceed?
  • How can a college education prepare students to understand the ultimate purpose or meaning for which life should be lived?
  • How can democratic liberalism remain viable when severed from its Christian roots?

By bringing such challenges to the academic forum, Phillip Johnson shows himself to be a great strategist: for he deftly demonstrates how the reigning naturalistic philosophy not only squelches public debate but also constrains us to ask the wrong questions. Unless we begin with the right questions, our discussion will be framed by the assumptions of that very philosophy which must be challenged, Johnson argues.

This DVD product has been formatted for convenient use in the classroom setting. The video may be watched uninterrupted from beginning to end, or the viewer may use the DVD menu feature to select the questions in any order. In this interview Professor Johnson addresses the following questions:


1. Professor Johnson, I understand that you suffered a stroke while in the process of writing your book, The Right Questions. Could you tell us what effect this experience had on your thoughts?

2. Do you believe that your experience has been, in some sense, an answer to a prayer you would have never prayed?

3. Given your recent experience, how do you view the differences between scientific medicine and faith healing?

4. A pessimistic tone comes through in your book, The Right Questions. Was this by design or just a natural outcome of the book's premise?

5. Do you believe the Islamic terrorists were acting in accordance with their religious beliefs or despite the teachings of the Koran?

6. Were the Crusades consistent with the teachings of Jesus?

7. Were Hitler's actions consistent with Darwin's "preservation of favored races" and philosophical naturalism in general?

8. What in your opinion is to prevent the United States from becoming the next communist U.S.S.R. or Nazi Germany?

9. As a Christian yourself, how would you advise the Christian Church begin asking the right questions?

10. What steps would you advise others to take in asking the right questions in public forums?

11. Should a college education prepare students to understand the ultimate purpose or meaning for which life should be lived?

12. Are certain a priori commitments indispensable as a basis for rational dialogue and mutual tolerance?

13. What is the ultimate premise, the beginning point, on which logic should proceed?


14. What is the difference between science and scientism?

15. Darwin explained the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest which must, according to philosophical materialists, be attributed to pure chance. Is pure chance a scientific explanation or a lack of one?

16. Is science more in conflict with theism or atheism?

17. Isn't the Big Bang model of the universe more consistent with theism than atheism?

18. Ultimately, our questions regarding origins come down to a fundamental choice between eternal matter or an eternal creator. Which in your view provides a more reasonable foundation for one's comprehensive worldview?

19. Science is usually defined in such a way as to exclude anything but purely natural causes. In your view, does scientific evidence tend to support the claim that unintelligent natural causes were sufficient to create everything that exists, or does it rather suggest that intelligent causes must have played a role in the origin of the universe and the origin of life?

20. Most of your recent writings have involved the logical inference from scientific data to an intelligent designer. Do you ever make references to the God of the Bible?

21. Some theologians have made the case that there is no more reasonable or rational way for God to reveal himself than to take on human flesh and dwell among us. What is your opinion on this matter?

22. If the evolution of modern technology from automobiles to computer software required continual intelligent input, why doesn't biological evolution imply an even greater intelligence?

23. You seem to indicate that there is hope for more open debate of Darwinism and philosophical naturalism. Do you see that taking place in the near or distant future?

24. Secular universities aside, don't you even see most Christian colleges and universities as a lost cause with regard to your Intelligent Design movement?


25. What is the best understanding of religion in a pluralistic society such as ours?

26. Is it better for public school students to be exposed to the teachings of Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, and others or is it better that they remain ignorant of the world's major religions?

27. Some people are convinced that the First Amendment has almost come to mean the elimination of the church by the state and the establishment of a secular religion. What do you think the original intent of the First Amendment was and do you believe that it has been perverted through time?

28. The University of California is funded by a population that is primarily Christian. Can and should taxpayers hold the university accountable in terms of philosophical and religious neutrality?

29. Is there a sound philosophical or religious basis for freedom?

30. If God is dead, is everything permitted, or does morality continue as before, but on a secular basis?

31. What is the basis for tolerance and what, if anything, should be its limits?

32. It is widely recognized that Christian theism was the foundation for human rights. Can human rights stand without a theistic base of support?

33. What are the religious roots of equal rights for women? How are these rights seen in different cultures?


34. What do you consider to be life's ultimate question?

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