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Pennock’s Convenient Distortion

Reply to Misquotation

Robert Pennock’s misquote of me in 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 & Culture).

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.

William A. Dembski

Founding and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture, Distinguished Fellow, Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence
A mathematician and philosopher, Bill Dembski is the author/editor of more than 25 books as well as the writer of peer-reviewed articles spanning mathematics, engineering, biology, philosophy, and theology. With doctorates in mathematics (University of Chicago) and philosophy (University of Illinois at Chicago), Bill is an active researcher in the field of intelligent design. But he is also a tech entrepreneur who builds educational software and websites, exploring how education can help to advance human freedom with the aid of technology.