Pennock's Convenient Distortion

Howard J. Van Till (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 08:48:55 -0400


Fellow ASA Members,

The following letter is self-explanatory.

Best wishes,
Bill Dembski


To: Editor of Books & Culture
From: Bill Dembski
Re: Pennock's Convenient Distortion

Rob Pennock's misquote of me in the current Books & Culture (Sep/Oct 99, p.
31) is mischief in the making. He quotes me as writing that design
theorists "are no friends of theistic evolutionists." What I in fact wrote
is: "Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution." (He got the
quote right in his book Tower of Babel, but not in his article for Books &

It makes a huge difference whether one refuses friendship with an idea or
with a group of people. To refuse the former is a matter of personal
conscience and opinion. To refuse the latter signifies bigotry and
ill-will. As a design theorist I disagree with theistic evolution but value
theistic evolutionists not only as persons but also as dialogue partners.

Perhaps as an evolutionist himself, Pennock thinks the evolution of
"evolution" into "evolutionIST" represents a minor adaptive change. I
don't. I think it represents shoddy scholarship. Indeed, most intelligent
agents resist the evolution of their texts and like them to stay as they
were originally created.