Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism (A Bradford Book) Paperback – February 28, 2000
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
The face of creationism has been through some major plastic surgery in the past decade or so. The leading proponents of "intelligent design theory" have left the ranting flat-earth types behind and found respected positions in the academic world from which to launch attacks on mainstream science. Philosopher of science Robert T. Pennock has explored all sides of the ongoing debate, which remains (despite the protestations of many creationists) more about biblical inerrancy than scientific evidence. His book Tower of Babel examines the new directions antievolutionists have taken lately, but goes beyond a mere recounting of recent history by proposing a new avenue of counterattack: linguistics.
The parallels are striking once we look closely: Genesis proclaims that God created all human languages at one stroke, while modern scientific thought proposes linguistic evolution similar in form to genetics. Best of all for scientists, though, linguistic change is much more rapid than biological change, and we have actually observed what might be called "speciation events" to have occurred historically in languages. While not meant to supplant traditional arguments against creationism, Pennock's ideas certainly supplement them and will be useful to educators and researchers alike. His sense of urgency is compelling; he sees the future of scientific education and freedom at stake and argues strongly for a separation between private beliefs and public knowledge. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
According to University of Texas philosopher Pennock, creationism has been evolving, changing from an unsophisticated attack on biological evolution to a more refined and polished assault on the nature of science itself. Rather than offering sophomoric arguments and forged archeological displays, he contends, the new creationists are attempting to promulgate a philosophical construct, theistic science, that is both more subtle and more insidious. With great insight and good humor, Pennock catalogues the wide range of creationist beliefs, dissects their main arguments and highlights what he sees as their internal inconsistencies. He focuses most of his attention on explicating the alleged weakness of the premises of theistic science and its reliance on an "intelligent designer," contending that its incorporation of miracles into its explanatory sphere undermines all aspects of science. In clear, direct prose, Pennock uses the basics of linguistic evolution to go after the foundation of the new creationism while employing sound philosophical arguments to demonstrate that an evolutionary worldview is neither immoral nor the first step toward the acceptance of atheism. With the new creationists claiming that an evolutionary perspective is responsible for virtually all of the world's ills and their desire to make amends by restructuring public education and the legal system, the stakes are huge. Pennock's response, thoughtful, thorough and respectful, deserves to be widely read.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
For those who argue (quite angrily in their reviews of books that support evolution) for support of ID or Creationism, the question remains, who are you making this argument for? Why this angry, vociferous push to be accepted into the realm of science? Religious belief is a matter of faith, not proof.
On page 274 of Pennock's book he makes a statement:
"Indeed, for many Christian believers, one's true faith is only proven when it survives in the face of events that would naturally cause one to doubt God's presence. To hold on to belief come what may is a sign of religious virtue. Contrarily, science takes it to be a virtue that one witholds belief in the truth of a proposition until it is supported by the weight of evidence."
It's clear that if one has no need, as the majority of Christians do not, to cleave to a literalist reading of scripture, then one has no need to refute scientific reasoning. Contrarily, it's impossible for a scriptural literalist to objectively review scientific arguments for the soundness of their experimental processes because scientific methodology threatens their need for absolutism.
It takes moral and intellectual courage, as Tillich wrote, to live in a world full of ambiguity and uncertainty. The absence of that courage requires reliance on some ideology of absolute answers.
Absolute answers are beyond verification using scientific methodology. They require faith. Those with the courage to maintain that faith in the face of all evidence to the contrary are comforted in their anxiety about an uncertain world.
ID arguments are intellectually dishonest, their attempt to distance themselves from Creationists is a disingenuous faint, and their ends are morally suspect.
However, Pennock does take an approach that is too rare in these discussions: that creationism of any stripe is harmful to serious theology as well as to public education, science, and the hope to have an informed citizenry. It is not his main focus but it resonates in much of the book.
I teach English at a community college in Missouri. My colleagues and I believe in the idea of helping our students become informed citizens so that they understand and participate in our democracy in thoughtful ways. Nothing interferes with the notion of being informed in this area more than the many fundamentalist/evangelical churches around here. When we discuss these issues in class, I find that the majority of students are full of misinformation and misunderstanding due to the affect that anti-evolutionists have had on public school teaching. Most students are thoughtful and interested, but woefully uneducated. They will listen and read and try to grasp evolution or other science, but they struggle, understandably enough.
Here's the kicker. What really gets them interested is to learn that evolution is not "anti-Christian." When I talk to them about my own mainstream Protestant upbringing, when they realize that the vast majority of Christian denominations accept evolution and see no incompatibility, when they realize that they are being lied to and used by extremists, they are very interested. Because of the prominence of fundamentalism in this area, and because of the loudness of creationist rhetoric, and because public school science teachers are afraid (or simply poorly educated themselves), most students don't realize what a fringe movement (dangerous, but fringe) creationism is and *what a threat it is to mainstream, serious Christianity*. That gets their dander up, and it is an issue Pennock discusses more than most scientific repudiations of creationism. (It may also suggest a profitable avenue to take in future refutations. Many theologians have spoken out against creationism and anti-evolutionism, but so far as I know not in particularly organized, mainstream, popular forums.)
Beyond that, I will merely attest to the overall excellence of thought, writing, and evidence in Tower of Babel that many reviewers have commented on. The linguistic analogy is terrific (and Pennock clearly states that there is no exact correspondence between linguistic and biological evolution) and the examinations of creationist rhetorical strategies is first rate. I've read a lot of evolution books and anti-creationist material. There is a lot of good stuff out there, but if you can only read one, this is it.
Most recent customer reviews
The more I learn from science, the more amazing I find God, The souce of...Read more
1) Scientists like to argue about anything that can rationally be argued about.Read more