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Paperback | $26.95 Trade | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780262661652 | 451 pp. | 5.9 x 8.8 in | February 2000

Instructor Resources

Tower of Babel

The Evidence against the New Creationism


In Tower of Babel, philosopher Robert Pennock compares the views of the new creationists with those of the old and reveals the insubstantiality of their arguments. One of Pennock's major innovations is to turn from biological evolution to the less-charged subject of linguistic evolution, which has strong theoretical parallels with biological evolution both in content and in the sort of evidence scientists use to draw conclusions about origins.

Several chapters deal with the work of Phillip Johnson, a highly influential leader of the new creationists. Pennock explains how science uses naturalism and discusses the relationship between factual and moral issues in the creationism-evolution controversy. The book also includes a discussion of Darwin's own shift from creationist to evolutionist and an extended argument for keeping private religious beliefs separate from public scientific knowledge.

About the Author

Robert T. Pennock is Professor in the Lyman Briggs College and the Departments of Philosophy and Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University.  He is a Co-PI of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.


“Several very good books have been written responding to the quirky criticisms that biblical creationists tireless raise to evolutionary theory. Robert Pennock’s Tower of Babel is the most detailed and comprehensive refutation of these criticisms to date. It is also a very good read.”
David L. Hull, Dressler Professor in the Humanities, Department of Philosophy, Northwestern University

“In Tower of Babel, Professor Pennock has brought the keen eye of a philosopher to bear on the ‘New Creationism,’ the nature of science, and essential questions of sound educational policy and practice. His book will be useful and instructive in the preparation of teachers and to school board members, administrators, teachers, and parents.”
Edwin J. Delattre, Dean, School of Education, and Professor of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, Boston University

“Adopting new strategies and new disguises, creationists continue to assault not only evolutionary biology, but the foundations of all of science as well. In this clearly written, carefully reasoned, and much-needed analysis, Robert Pennock exposes the flaws in contemporary creationist arguments. Tower of Babel strikes a strong blow for sound biology, science, and education.”
Douglas J. Futuyma, Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York at Stony Brook

“Pennock demonstrates that the doctrine of special creation—that separate species share no common biological ancestors but arose independently—flies in the face of reasonable canons of scientific evidence. He also effectively challenges the allegation that evolutionary theory is not scientific, but is just a philosophical dogma. The book thus simultaneously illuminates the nature of science and the evolutionary science of nature.”
Elliott Sober, Hans Reichenbach Professor and Vilas Research Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Pennock looks deeply inside today’s ever-more-sophisticated creationist movement which promotes ‘intelligent design theory’ and attacks ‘the dogmas of naturalism.’ He provides powerful responses that will be particularly appreciated by biologists and science teachers. Tower of Babel is a model of socially engaged philosophy.”
Ronald N. Giere, Department of Philsophy, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Minnesota

“Robert Pennock has provided a lucid, accessible, sensitive, and complete refutation of the latest emanations from the creationist camp, and all open-minded citizens should be grateful.”
Philip Kitcher, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University and University of California, San Diego


Finalist in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.