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5.0 out of 5 stars An Objective History of Scientific Creationism, July 3, 2000
This review is from: The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism (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. Besides the second creation story in Genesis, there are at least three other major ones, and a host of other creations texts generally ignored, which have quite different concepts of creation.
One of the main difficulties the creationists have faced is the lack of credible scientific support for their views. In the Arkansas trial, for example, the defendants could produce no peer reviewed articles in scientific journals which supported them; moreover, they had not even written any which they had tried to have published in such journals.
Of course, the scientists opposing creationishm in the schools also had their own political agenda, to compete for scarce resources to fund research. As I said, Numbers is quite even handed.
For anyone interested in the origins and development of old and young earth creationism, the creationist societies and their internal conflicts, and the attempts to introduce so-called creation science into the public school classrooms, this gives a detailed overview.
Creationists may find this book a useful resource to examine the background of their beliefs. For others, it will enable them to see better what the various varieties of creationists believe and why. For myself, I have engaged creationists in the letters to the local newspaper, taking issue with them with some sucess on mainly religious grounds, this book has enabled me to better understand where my antagonists are coming from. And as you can see from other reviews, some of them certainly are antagonistic.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 24, 2008 8:26:04 PM PDT
I haven't ready the book (just ordered it)--but you gotta love the quote from the back cover, from Morris of the "Creating Research Institute"! Creating research--that's exactly what many scientists think of the research done by creationists.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2012 7:58:03 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2012 8:01:39 PM PST
VinylMan says:
Of course Mr. Thomas knows that "Creating Research" was a typo and "Creation Research" was intended.

As for the "thinking" of many scientists, I am reminded of the flat earth scientists who laughed at the round earth guys, and the doctors who resisted anaesthesia because it was well known by all intelligent people that pain resulted in faster healing. And don't forget the leading edge doctors who hounded the "germ guys" on the basis that they were given to imagination and were not stable. One could write for hours about the wonders of main stream science and its dogmatic elites. Mr. Thomas, it is good that you have so much faith in them.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2012 4:38:48 AM PST
Xenophanes says:
VinylMan, you entirely miss the point of Robert Thomas's post. You pose a conventional view countered by the research of others. However, in this case, we have in evolutionary biology a body of research and theory which has weathered numerous challenges for many decades, and which stimulates further research. So-called scientific creationism has been tested in many ways and found wanting.

Against this, what is there? Where are the research results done by the Institute for Creation Research to counter evolutionary biology? What have they done to further scientific research? Take a look at the contradictory paragraph on the ICR site:

"Where does everything come from and what does it mean? Science is limited in its ability to answer the questions nearest to our hearts. However, science does give us tools to understand our universe and the laws of nature that we can observe today."

"This understanding provides compelling evidence for creation."

This can only mean that those large existential questions cannot be answered by science, with which I agree. Then leave them to philosophy and religion and don't try to put creationism in science and stop trying to teach it in science classes.

Fortunately, there are people who have examined the claims of creation science, and you can find their answers in the Talk Origins Archive at the following URL.

Have fun reading!

Posted on Jul 19, 2013 4:01:49 PM PDT
Greetings Patrick,

Appreciate your honest review. You probably have not read the expanded version of this book, which includes some information on the recent Design movement that emerged in the 1990s, but I read the expanded edition of the book and found it quite interesting, but I believe there was not enough on the Design movement - which has aught more interest recently. The expanded section was not as extensive as it was on creationism.

So having that be the case, here is a good detailed and longer history of the Intelligent Design movement which starts off from the doubts from starters of the movement such as Michael Denton (an agnostic) and other nonreligious figures. Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design. Its quite impressive how little the normative secular nature of Intelligent Design is emphasized by the media and even by those who disagree with design. There is a lot more to it than the common stereotypes.
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