John's Reviews > Tower Of Babel: The Evidence Against The New Creationism

Tower Of Babel by Robert T. Pennock
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's review
Jan 16, 12

bookshelves: science, history
Read in March, 2002

TOWER OF BABEL is both an elegant history of creationism in the United States and a splendid rebuttal of creationism in all of its varieties, especially, intelligent design. Much to Pennock's credit he takes the novel approach of drawing analogies between linguistic and biological evolution. Not surprisingly, he notes that creationist critics of evolution are also quite critical of linguistics viewed from an evolutiuonary perspective. He notes how languages can be viewed as linguistic equivalents of species, with individual "subspecies" - dialects - gradually evolving into new languages. He also does an elegant job stating the evidence for evolution and why Darwin's theory of evolution via natural selection remains the great explanatory theory for biology.

Pennock makes a very persuasive case for the religious origins of "Intelligent Design" creationism, noting that its major proponents - Michael Behe, Willaim Dembski, and Phillip Johnson - are more interested in replacing "naturalistic" science with a theistic science that accepts Divine intervention than in determining the scientific validity - or lack thereof - of "Intelligent Design". Pennock states in the concluding chapter of TOWER OF BABEL that "intelligent-design creationists are wrong to say that evolution is just a 'loaded story" or assumed point of view; rather, it is as well confirmed by the scientific evidence as any of the great explanatory theories. More important, they are wrong to say that scientific naturalism is metaphysical dogma; rather, it is a methodology that is rationally justified and that is accessible to all." Like their biblical creationist kin, "Intelligent Design" creationists regard evolution as the source of all evils associated with modern American society, ranging from the spread of AIDS (For example, Pennock notes Johnson's support of a disreputable AIDS researcher who thinks AIDS is more the result of a degenerate homosexual lifestyle rather than its sexual transmission via HIV/AIDS viruses.) to liberalism.

Pennock concludes with an overview of ongoing battles between "Intelligent Design" advocates and scientists for control of the content of scientific learning in public school classrooms across the country. He notes that the injection of religious doctrine into classrooms through the introduction of "Intelligent Design" is a dangerous assault on American liberties and values, and one that should not be taken lightly by its adherents or potential supporters. Along with Kenneth Miller's FINDING DARWIN'S GOD and Philip Kitcher's ABUSING SCIENCE, this splendid book is one of the finest critiques of creationism and among the most eloquent defenses on behalf of not only biological evolution, but indeed, all of science.

(Reposted from my 2002 Amazon review)
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