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A Grand Conspiracy

NOTE: This letter is a response to a letter published last week in the Ames Tribune. Click here to access a PDF of the original letter.

It is well known among rhetoricians that to resort to ad hominem attack is to admit you have no valid argument against your opponent’s position. This is precisely what Mr. Patterson does in his Wednesday letter about me and the book I co-authored with Jay Richards, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery.

Patterson spins a grand conspiracy theory around a funder of Discovery Institute, a think tank supporting the theory of intelligent design, and ends by, in effect, labeling me a member of the Taliban.

Early in his letter Patterson informs readers that “to those ignorant of the history and logic of modern science, the Intelligent Design (ID) arguments and inferences championed in ‘The Privileged Planet’ will seem scientifically sound, even compelling.” From this unsupported assertion it follows that Harvard astrophysicist and historian of astronomy Owen Gingerich, Cambridge evolutionary paleontologist Simon Conway Morris, and Notre Dame historian of science Michael Crowe are “ignorant of the history and logic of modern science.” They endorsed our book.

Richards and I build our case for design from scientific evidence, not by appeals to the Bible or some private mystical experience. Our argument is also testable. Our particular design argument is falsifiable, vulnerable to the river of data about extrasolar planets, galaxies, and the larger universe flowing in from NASA missions over the next two decades.

What I find interesting is that the most vocal opponents of our argument have been atheists. Obviously, it violates some cherished belief these people hold.

To learn more about our argument, including both positive and mixed reviews, go to

Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez

Guillermo Gonzalez

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Guillermo Gonzalez is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1993 from the University of Washington. He has done post-doctoral work at the University of Texas, Austin and at the University of Washington and has received fellowships, grants and awards from such institutions as NASA, the University of Washington, the Templeton Foundation, Sigma Xi (scientific research society) and the National Science Foundation.