Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

The Evidence against the New Creationism

By Robert T. Pennock

Creationists have acquired a more sophisticated intellectual arsenal. This book reveals the insubstantiality of their arguments.

A Bradford Book





Creationists have acquired a more sophisticated intellectual arsenal. This book reveals the insubstantiality of their arguments.

Creationism is no longer the simple notion it once was taken to be. Its new advocates have become more sophisticated in how they present their views, speaking of "intelligent design" rather than "creation science" and aiming their arguments against the naturalistic philosophical method that underlies science, proposing to replace it with a "theistic science." The creationism controversy is not just about the status of Darwinian evolution—it is a clash of religious and philosophical worldviews, for a common underlying fear among Creationists is that evolution undermines both the basis of morality as they understand it and the possibility of purpose in life.

In Tower of Babel, philosopher Robert T. 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. Of course, an evolutionary view of language does conflict with the Bible, which says that God created the variety of languages at one time as punishment for the Tower of Babel.

Several chapters deal with the work of Phillip Johnson, a highly influential leader of the new Creationists. Against his and other views, 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.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262161800 452 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$50.00 X ISBN: 9780262661652 452 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • 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.