- Paperback: 624 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; Expanded edition (November 30, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780674023390
- ISBN-13: 978-0674023390
- ASIN: 0674023390
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Expanded Edition Paperback – November 30, 2006
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Numbers tells the fascinating story of how Creationism has mutated, adapted, and evolved in a changing
social and scientific environment. From the diverse range of Creationist ideas that competed with each other at the time of the Scopes Trial, to the creation of Scientific Creationism, to Intelligent Design theory, and then to the spread of Creationism from the United States to the rest of the world, the history is full of surprises, curiosities, and ironies. Those who wish to understand current opposition to Darwinism, and the larger question of how science and religion interact, must read this book. (Elliott Sober, Hans Reichenbach Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Historians of science and religion have long recognized The Creationists as the finest historical examination of the intellectual origins and development of anti-evolutionism in America. In this expanded edition, Numbers has brought this important book up-to-date by recounting the rise and influence of Intelligent Design and its proponents, and documenting the spread of a new global creationism. The Creationists will remain the benchmark book in its field. (Edward J. Larson, author of Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory, and winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History)
Ronald Numbers's book, The Creationists, is a modern classic. Deep sympathy
combined with critical objectivity gives great insight into the thinking of those who reject evolution in favor of a narrow, literalist reading of Genesis. Now Numbers has updated his work, discussing the new approach of
so-called Intelligent Design Theory and again showing how it is that so many continue to reject basic science. Ending with a frightening survey of the world-wide success of Creationism, this work is as important as it is a sheer delight to read. (Michael Ruse, Florida State University, author of The Evolution-Creation Struggle)
A classic text, now updated and expanded to take into account the latest trends among anti-evolutionists, Numbers's carefully researched history is required reading to understand the current controversy. (Alan Cane Financial Times)
Ronald Numbers is in a unique position to offer some answers. His 1992 book, The Creationists, which Harvard University Press has just reissued in an expanded edition, is probably the most definitive history of anti-evolutionism. Numbers is an eminent figure in the history of science and religion--a past president of both the History of Science Society and the American Society of Church History. But what's most refreshing about Numbers is the remarkable personal history he brings to this subject. He grew up in a family of Seventh-day Adventists and, until graduate school, was a dyed-in-the-wool creationist. When he lost his religious faith, he wrote a book questioning the foundations of Adventism, which created a huge rift in his family. Perhaps because of his background, Numbers is one of the few scholars in the battle over evolution who remains widely respected by both evolutionists and creationists. In fact, he was once recruited by both sides to serve as an expert witness in a Louisiana trial on evolution. (He went with the ACLU.) (Steve Paulson Salon.com)
[An] informative, well-researched intellectual history of the origins of the contemporary creation science movement...Numbers offers a historical analysis of the various permutations in creation science thought, starting with the original response in 1859 to Charles Darwin's Origin of Species and ending with creationism's spread across the globe during the 1990s. (Pius Charles Murray Library Journal)
This book is an intellectual history of religiously inspired anti-evolutionism, primarily in the US, since the latter 19th century. It is a meticulous work by a distinguished historian--with 431 pages of text, followed by 133 pages of detailed notes on sources. Some readers might find it heavy going, but Numbers writes in an engaging style and keeps the narrative moving briskly, writing about the human qualities as well as the theology of leading creationists. (Francis B. Harrold Reports of the National Center for Science Education)
A great reference work. (Ian Hacking The Nation)
A welcome addition to the burgeoning scholarship on contemporary interactions between science and religion. Since the first edition of The Creationists was published fourteen years ago, conflicts involving evolution have continued to make news; so much has happened, in fact, that a new edition is sorely needed. (Stephen P. Weldon Isis)
From the Back Cover
"For those interested in the background of the modern revival of creationism, whether evolutionists or creationists, this book is a rich mine of information and historical insights."--Henry M. Morris, Institute for Creation Research
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Numbers lets us know at the beginning that his work isn't about exposing the flaws of creationism and he lays his cards on the table by admitting that, although he grew up as a Seventh-Day Adventist and held to young earth creationism in his youth, his current position is that of an agnostic. With that he begins his work.
The first two chapters Numbers outlines the history of creationism from the time of Darwin up to the 1920s and focuses his attend on the importance of George Frederick Wright.
Chapters three and four cover the fundamentalist controversy including the Scopes Monkey trial and especially William Jennings Bryan. We are also introduced to the creationist stalwart Harry Rimmer.
The main person responsible for the rise of modern creationism is the Seventh-Day Adventist George McCready Price and he's the subject of chapter five. Price will come up again in nearly every succeeding chapter. Price, following the Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White, claimed that most of the geological strata was a result of Noah's flood. Through his influence and subsequently John Whitcomb and Henry Morris in their book The Genesis Flood created what has become known as "flood geology" and is one of the hallmarks of modern young earth creationism. Numbers recounts the importance of Whitcomb and Morris in chapter ten.
We learn a lot about various creationists and the early associations and societies that were created in chapters six through nine. The first of such organizations was the Religion and Science Association (RSA) and then the Deluge Geology Society. Along the way we also hear about non-flood geology groups like the Evolution Protest Movement and the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA). Those early creationist groups ultimately bring us to the Creation Research Society (chapter eleven) soon after the publication of Whitcomb and Morris's book. Eventually we have the founding of the Institute for Creation Research and finally Answers in Genesis.
The expanded edition of the book includes a chapter on intelligent design where we learn about how that movement got its start and culminates with the 2005 Dover trial. Numbers ends the book with a discussion about the explosion of creationism throughout the world.
This is the go to book on the history of modern young earth creationism and one that I highly recommend.
Ronald Numbers' "The Creationists" provides a unique look into the history of a unique movement. Numbers himself, despite being an unbeliever, is very fair to movement creationists and treats them accurately. He dismisses a number of common myths concerning the movement's birth and practices. He begins with Darwin's theory itself, noting that its scientific critics had disappeared within a couple of decades. Add a couple more decades, and you began to see "creationists", especially among the fundamentalist movement. Yet, these creationists were of a different kind than contemporary movement creationists. Virtually all of them held to an ancient earth, and reconciled this with their high view of Scripture by appealing to the "gap theory" of Genesis 1. The gap theory suggests that Genesis 1:2 describes the destruction of the Earth (the Earth "became" without form and void, in their view) and the six days are simply the renewal of the world, not its creation.
One man stood against this view, however: George Price. Price was a Seventh-day Adventist who believed the writings of Ellen White to be inspired by God. White's writings left no room at all for old-age creation in any form, and he attempted to rebuild all science on new foundations. Especially key to his arguments in "The New Geology" were examples of the geologic column "out of order." Thus was born the common creationist claim that there isn't any such thing as the geologic column. Price's young-age views began to spread well outside his own Adventist denomination, and he trained students: most importantly Harold Clark and Frank Marsh, who provided the foundations for modern creationist geology and biology, respectively. Clark disagreed with his mentor and argued that there really was a geologic column, and that it was produced by the differentiation in ecological zones before the Flood.
Monumental in creationist history, of course, was Morris and Whitcomb's "The Genesis Flood" which brought about the dominance of young-age creation among evangelical Protestants, as well as its popularity in some other denominations. Its influence even extended to some Catholics and Mormons, who began to participate in the creationist movement. Yet, Numbers illumines some important mistakes in the creationist movement: Gish and Morris appeared to be more interested in evangelism than research. As such, their scientific models were sloppy and often easily refuted. Gish, despite being a credentialed biochemist, was more of a rhetorician than an active scientist. Not only this, but creationists began to attempt to put together textbooks and press for the inclusion of young-age creation in schools by the law. Without well-developed scientific models, such efforts inevitably failed.
As the book presses towards its conclusion, signs of hope begin to appear. Kurt Wise went to Harvard and trained as a paleontologist under the famous Stephen Jay Gould: and then proceeded to critique creationist work, despite being a young-age creationist himself. He emphasized the importance of being honest, and founding models on proper and defensible research. Other young-age geologists, such as Steven A. Austin and Andrew Snelling began to undertake fieldwork. And it is here where the 1991 edition of the book reaches its conclusion. Since this time, while some bad habits remain, professionally credentialed creationist scientists have come to emphasize the importance of quality field and lab-work. New and more credible models have been developed, even as much work remains to be done. Andrew Snelling published the new standard for creationist geology, intended to replace "The Genesis Flood." Snelling's work "Earth's Catastrophic Past" is leaps and bounds above its predecessor. It is based on original research, acknowledges where problems still exist, and is written by a professional geologist.
The reason I give the book four instead of five stars is because Numbers leaves out an important element of creationist history: the post-Lyell "Scriptural geologists" of the 19th century. This is the true birth of "scientific creationism" from a young-age perspective. These geologists critiqued Lyell's uniformitarian geology from a biblical perspective and attempted to build models of Earth history which were compatible with the biblical story. Most people have no idea that there ever was any such movement, and are under the impression that there was no Christian critique of uniformitarian geology in the 19th century, an impression reinforced by Numbers' book.
Despite this flaw, Numbers' work is a terrific and largely objective account of the development of modern scientific creationism, and it is essential reading for those wishing to understand the movement, whether from the inside or the outside.