I don’t have a publisher yet for my book, so I gave my proposal to a top literary agent. Here’s how he replied:

I admit that I gave your email a few minutes’ careful consideration, since I am certainly fascinated by anything having to do with the origins and nature of life, and am myself an atheist. I also pride myself in being able to represent books from many different points of view. But in the end I just can’t get around my abhorrence of the concept of intelligent design.

Part of me thinks that for that very reason I should read the book, just to see what I might be missing. If I had lots of free reading time I would probably do that, but since reading time is at a great premium, I have to reserve it for books that I might represent and not just for those about which I’m intellectually curious. I feel that I could never represent such a book and so it’s best if I not take even a step down this road.

I find this response fascinating. I can’t imagine that it often happens that a literary agent is intellectually curious about a manuscript and yet turns it down without starting to read it. It’s this kneejerk emotional reaction to intelligent design that I’m trying to combat with my book. Just because someone is an atheist, and thinks that intelligent design is wrong, it doesn’t follow that they have to abhor the concept. In fact, I think it’s rather misguided to abhor the concept — it’s just a philosophical idea; it’s not going to do any terrible harm to the world. 

Yes, I know there are those who think that intelligent design is leading us into theocracy — but you would have thought the literary agent would have wanted to look at my manuscript, to see if perhaps I provide any evidence against that view. (In fact, I don’t really — for the most part, I set aside issues associated with culture and politics, and focus on what the doctrine of intelligent design is, whether intelligent design counts as science, and what the evidence for intelligent design is.) Anyway, I find his close-mindedness telling; I think that exemplifies one of the reasons that the arguments for intelligent design are so often dismissed for inadequate reasons.

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