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The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism Paperback – October 13, 1993


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Paperback, October 13, 1993
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 458 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (October 13, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520083938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520083936
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,594,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pious charlatans, firebrand demagogues and scientific cranks stalk the pages of this scholarly, thoroughgoing, at times plodding history of the modern revival of creationism. Unlike 19th-century creationists, who rejected Darwinian evolution but acknowledged that life on earth has spanned millions of years, today's creationists believe that God made woman and man in a single act of creation within the last 10,000 years. They draw inspiration for their beliefs from George McCready Price, a Seventh-day Adventist who in the 1920s pioneered "flood geology," which traces most fossils back to Noah's flood and its aftermath. Numbers, a professor of the history of science at the University of Wisconsin, unravels the tangled religious roots of creationism. His evenhanded treatment incorporates a quietly devastating critique of the modern creationist movement and its efforts to influence school curricula. He reveals creationists to be a divided and contentious lot, squabbling fiercely with one another. Illustrated.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A classic history of a movement." -- Robert Bruce Mullin, Christian Century

"In this monumental history of the young-Earth movement, there is no bitterness or cynicism. Rather [Numbers] tells the story with remarkable even- handedness. . . . This marvellously detailed, engagingly told and sometimes astonishing history has the intrigue of a Chaim Potok novel." -- George M. Marsden, Nature

"Informative and rewarding . . . a chronicle derived from Numbers's prodigious research and his goal of giving the creationists their full story." -- J. David Hoeveler, Jr., Science

"Numbers has meticulously reconstructed the careers and the relations of the heroes of creationism men largely unknown in research universities but vastly influential in seminaries, study groups and Sunday schools around the United States." -- Anthony Grafton, The New Republic

"[An] excellently thorough study." -- Stephen R. L. Clark, New York Times Book Review

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Customer Reviews

To a very great degree he succeeds, and we all benefit.
Roger D. Launius
This book is an outstanding resource for anyone interested in the subject of creationism, the major creationist players, and their war against science and reason.
David Horn
This is a very well researched and well written account of the development of creationism over the course of the 20th century.
R. Albin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Patrick A Daley on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an astonishingly evenhanded, objective history of the scientific creationist movement. As Numbers points out, this is one of those areas where it seems very difficult to carry on a rational discussion.
Despite how many fundamentalist creationists and humanists view the controversies over creation and evolution, the issue is not either a simple religion vs. humanism or religion vs. science struggle. As the author points out,
"Rather than finding clerics arrayed in simple opposition to scientists, we discover conflicts of a different sort: psychological, as creationists struggled to reconcile the apparently conflicting claims of science and Scripture; and social, as they quarreled with one another over competing scientific and biblical interpretations or contested the boundaries of science and religion with evolutionists in courthouses, legislative halls, and school-board rooms." (p. 10)
And, despite the ad hominem arguments employed by some earlier customer reviews, that is what Numbers deals with in an objective, historical fashion. He seldom betrays his own sympathies, and has received compliments from eminent creationists as well as historians and scientists.
It is eminently clear that the creationists have never been able to agree on their interpretations of the first creation story in Genesis. These disagreements between the young earth and old earth creationists are delineated in great detail. From my point of view, I should also point out that they do not agree with competent biblical scholars, either, who will place Genesis in the cultural context of the ancient Middle East. The first creation story in Genesis is fairly obviously a religious counterstatement to other ancient myths, not a scientific treatise.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful By W. Scott Wilson on December 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
A previous reviewer stated that this work focused too much on the "personalities and politics of creationism." However, that is the way the book was intended. It is a history, not so much, of creationism, but of creationists (thus the title of the book). And knowing that, I found it to be an information-laden investigation of the people behind creationism. The book chronicles the rise of creationism following Darwin's discoveries (for the first 50 years after Darwin the move to evolution was so overwhelming that, so it seems, Christianity had no effective response) up until the beginning of the nineties. Though the book does not detail much in the way of creationist "research" it does detail some of the the scientific problems that Old-Earth creationists had with Young-Earth creationism and vice versa. And even though, a previous reviewer wrote that the book is too biased against creationism, it's interesting to note that on the back of the book is a recommendation from Henry M. Morris, one of the biggest names in YEC.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Originally published in 1992, this superb history of the evolution of creationism, mostly in the United States, by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Ronald L. Numbers fills a major gap in the literature on the subject. The landscape of the evolution/creationism debate is filled with polemical works attacking evolution and advancing the cause of creationism/intelligent design, or vice versa, but there are few serious, sophisticated, and dispassionate histories of the debate. "The Creationists" is the gold standard if one is seeking to understand the history of the interplay between competing world views--evolutionary biology versus Judeo/Christian understandings of human origins--rather than learn arguments for the polemical battles currently taking place. While complete objectivity is beyond the capability of anyone, Numbers seeks to tell the story of this debate impartially as possible. To a very great degree he succeeds, and we all benefit.

In "The Creationists" Numbers pulls back the curtain beyond the high-profile Scopes Trial of 1925 and the recent textbook battles to focus on a less well-known but a remarkably interesting and complex story of how those firmly believing in the inerrancy of the Bible sought to deal with Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory. There is an extraordinary cast of characters in this effort ranging from George Frederick Wright, who published "Man and the Glacial Period" in 1892, to Wendell R. Bird who developed a political strategy to demand the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in the public schools in the 1970s. These divergent characters, the organizations they created, and the religious traditions they represented all competed amongst themselves on how best to counteract the effects of evolution.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 1996
Format: Paperback
A superb, comprehensive, and magisterial presentation of the history (and evolution) of the creationist movement in America by a noted historian of science. Professor Numbers is not unsympathetic with creationists, in spite of the fact that he knows better than to believe what they believe. He tells us that, in the interests of humility, he keeps on his desk an announcement of an anti-evolution speech that his father, a Seventh-Day Adventist preacher, gave some six decades ago.
For anyone who wants to know about this peculiarly American movement, Numbers is the place to start. Extensive bibliography for further reference
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