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The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning & Public Debate, Phillip E. Johnson, InterVarsity Press, 2002, 191 pps., $16 hardcover

In his new book, Phillip Johnson sagely observes that "[t]rying to get to the answer before one has understood all the right questions is a prime source of error in human affairs." He wrote the book to help Christians and other truth-seekers "open up the ideologically closed classroom" when it comes to evolution vs. intelligent design.

Johnson writes that, although one might expect a healthy debate in intellectual circles over whether the appearance of design in biology is real or illusory, such debate does not occur. Nor does discussion of how the evidence of biology may bear on the proposition that humans are created equal to each other and superior to all other forms of life. This is because society's intellectual elite "has actually suppressed honest public debate on most issues."

Johnson states that, until recently, "educators assumed that controversy over biological evolution was a thing of the past, but now the subject is coming to life on both Christian and secular campuses." He notes that every campus is home to "scores of faculty and students who are suffocated by the prevailing dogmas of scientific materialism or political correctness but who almost never get a chance to hear anything else." The intellectual culture of our time enforces a distinction between belief and knowledge, and between faith and reason, he says, which makes it virtually impossible to ask the right questions.

Some of the author's "right questions" include:

  • Why is it always wrong to mix science and religion?
  • How can a college education prepare students to understand the ultimate purpose or meaning for which life should be lived and to choose rightly from among the available possibilities?
  • How can democratic liberalism remain viable when severed from its Christian roots?

The Right Questions is a thought-provoking book that mixes Johnson's scholarship with a personal glimpse into his life. Grappling with a medical problem in July 2001 inspired him to con-cerive of "the right questions." Readers can't help but become better equipped to lead the way in opening up the search for truth and meaning through the kind of public education that "teaches the controversy."

Contact InterVarsity Press, Krista Carnet, 800/843-4587, ext. 4013, or visit www.therightquestions.com

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