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Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line Hardcover – April 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Fascinating creatures, these creationists. Rosenhouse holds up a magnifying glass to the various varieties of this species as he strolls through the thickets of confusion known as creationist conferences. Conversationally, he draws you into a world experienced by few secularists. His anecdotes are entertaining - but also instructive about science, religion, and philosophy. An enjoyable read, whether or not you know anything about the creationism/evolution controversy." - Eugenie C. Scott, Executive Director, National Center for Science Education, and author of Evolution vs Creationism: An Introduction

"Armed only with curiosity and a razor-sharp intellect, the intrepid Jason Rosenhouse attended a series of creationist conferences over the course of a decade. The result, Among the Creationists, affords a unique glimpse at the cultures of American creationism, as well as Rosenhouse's own thoughtful and provocative reflections on science, philosophy, and religion prompted by his experiences. Highly recommended!" --Glenn Branch, National Center for Science Education

"Those of us who battle creationism usually wage the war on the Internet, on paper, or in the courtroom. Rarely do we get to know our adversaries as people. Jason Rosenhouse is the rare exception. Equipped with remarkable empathy and a deep knowledge of evolutionary biology, he wades into creationist meetings, trying to understand the mindset that leads people to oppose one of the best-supported ideas in science. The upshot is a remarkably readable chronicle that at once gives penetrating insights into the psychology of creationists while handily refuting their arguments." -- Jerry Coyne, Professor of Ecology & Evolution, University of Chicago, and author of Why Evolution is True

"From the plain foolishness of equating "Darwinism" with every social evil, to the serious implications of naturalism (methodological or natural) as viewed by theists, the author reports, documents, and then offers humane and honest judgment on the validity of the arguments. Serious evolutionists will find endless utilities in this handsomely-written work" -- Paul Gross, University Professor of Life Sciences, emeritus, University of Virginia, and co-author with Barbara Forrest of Creationism's Trojan Horse.

"This is a terrific book. Rosenhouse's incisive but accessible analysis of the never-ending problem of creationism treats the theological and scientific contortions of its promoters with both humor and pathos. His firsthand familiarity with rank-and-file creationists has enabled him to craft a response that combines a truthful account of how utterly misguided they are scientifically with a respectful recognition of their humanity." -- Barbara Forrest, expert witness for plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover

"Rosenhouse, a mathematician interested in the creation-evolution "controversy" has done a unique service. He attended creation conferences, talked with creationists, and took a serious look at the most lavish creation museum in America. These are efforts few evolutionists would be willing to endure...All in all I enjoyed reading Among the Creationists. It represents a unique attempt of a secular scholar to engage creationist communities on their own home ground and report his experiences. Rosenhouse has provided an immense service to our understanding of a remarkable, persistent, and wrongheaded phenomenon." -- Rudolf A. Raff Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

"This is a well-written, enlightening take on a topic that has generated many books on both sides of a well-heated controversy. The author's sympathetic treatment of this deep divide is valuable. It will help both evidence-based and faith-based individuals move closer to an appreciation of the issues on the other side of this dispute." -- CHOICE

"Rosenhouse has written a highly readable and captivating volume that provides us with an exceptionable perspective on creationism and the people who believe in it." -- Metascience

About the Author

Jason Rosenhouse is Associate Professor of Mathematics at James Madison University. He is previously the author of The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math's Most Contentious Brain Teaser and Taking Sudoku Seriously: The Math Behind the World's Most Popular Pencil Puzzle.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199744637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199744633
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.9 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A. Scott on April 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who was born and raised in the Deep South, I know creationists on a much deeper level than just the science vs. religion debate. Virtually all of my closest friends growing up, as well as almost my entire family, are Bible believing Christians who take Genesis literally. Despite the numerous books out there by scientists and philosophers that explain the mechanisms of evolution, its logical under-structure, and the evidence for its occurrence, I have always felt like there was a void in the literature when it comes to creationism. By this I do not mean creationist literature or refutations of it (there is plenty of both). Instead, I mean literature that correctly portrays the sociology of creationists like my family and childhood friends.

In my opinion, Jason Rosenhouse's book fills this void. Rather than just debunking arguments, the author shows what creationists actually think of the Bible and evolution. These reasons will probably be surprising for those of you who have not spent a lot of time around creationists. A good example of this is the frequency evolution is rejected on the grounds of being a brutal and wasteful process that seems irreconcilable with an all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing God (sort of a version of the problem of Evil). Dr. Rosenhouse's retelling of his trips to anti-evolution conferences and chit-chats with creationists really drives this point home. Creationists have a lot of different reasons for rejecting evolution (I think all of them are bad) and believe a wide variety of things from Young Earth Creationism to Intelligent Design (also bad). This diversity may cause you to nuance your methodology of talk to creationists.

(this book also covers all of the relevant design arguments much better than Dawkins's TGD or Hitchens' GING.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey W Hatley on April 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've long been a fan of Jason Rosenhouse's blog, EvolutionBlog, and have used it as a primary source for staying current on the evolution/creationism dispute. When I found out he had written a book about his experiences at various creationist conferences, I was eager to read it, and I was not disappointed.

The first thing to note is that many of the stories recounted in this book first appeared on EvolutionBlog immediately after they occurred. However, there is still much value in this book for Jason's regular readers. The passage of time has allowed him to collect and organize his thoughts and experiences into a smoothly-flowing narrative, pausing frequently to explain the relevant pieces of biology or theology that have driven his conversations with creationists.

If you are not a regular reader of Jason's, and especially if you are new to the evolution/creationism debate and are seeking a crash course on the main issues, I cannot think of a better introduction to the subject. Among the Creationists is well-written, witty, thorough, and simply fun to read. It is *not* a biology textbook, and it is *not* a theological treatise. It is primarily a book of amusing anecdotes and insightful commentary.

Finally, allow me to say a few words on the tone of this book, since so many people wring their hands over this issue. While Jason is unflinching in his defense of science and his criticisms of creationists, the portrait he paints of creationists and IDers is wholly human, often empathetic, and nearly always positive. Jason makes it clear that, although he very strongly disagrees with those in the creationist camp, his numerous interactions with them have helped him to understand their (deeply flawed) worldviews.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jason Rosenhouse has a funny hobby. He is a professor of mathematics, and though he is proud of his Jewish heritage, he is an atheist. His hobby is to go to conferences of creationists, the people who have such faith in the Bible that they think the universe was created only a few thousand years ago and evolution never happened, and to see what sort of exchanges he might have with the conventioneers. In _Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolution Front Line_ (Oxford University Press), Rosenhouse explains his hobby, his studies of creationist thought and literature, the arguments brought forth by both sides, and the chasm between them. Naturally, he thinks science has the better explanation of cosmology, geology, and biology, and his book is written with that in mind. He does get exasperated with what he sees as the downright insularity and extremism of creationists, but he avoids being condescending, just as he (mostly) avoids being so when he is face to face with them. It would be nice to think that his is a step to bring both sides closer, but his experiences in his often bizarre hobby have convinced him further that evolution and traditional Christianity cannot easily coexist.

Rosenhouse looked at both creationist and evolution literature, and found the former had some convincing points, until he to creationist treatment of mathematics, where they were on Rosenhouse's turf. He was shocked. It wasn't just that they were making minor errors: "I am not saying that creationists had interesting points to make, but had misunderstood some difficult, technical detail. I am talking instead about errors indicative of a total incomprehension of the subject.
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