Friday, July 25, 2008

The Creation Of Creationism

John Habgood, formerly Anglican Archbishop of York, reviews “The Creationists” by Ronald L. Numbers:
Ronald Numbers has given us what must surely be the definitive study of the rise and growth of a cluster of well-meaning, but irrational, theories over a period of some 160 years. The Creationists is an expanded version of an earlier edition published in 1991. During the interval, the proportion of Americans who favour some form of Creationism has risen from 47 per cent to 65.5 per cent and the phenomenon has spread worldwide. The fact that such extremism has now become global should worry theologians as well as scientists.
That came after a long discussion about creationism’s history. Here’s a bit more:
Fundamentalism tends to discount the significance of historical development in the biblical narratives, preferring to treat each revealed word as a relevant expression of God’s truth. This encourages a concentration on supposedly infallible statements, detached from their historical context and from the intentions of those who wrote them, thus paradoxically imitating those sciences in which statements of fact can be treated as objectively precise. Conflict with science is the inevitable result. The “fact” of God’s design, for instance, has to be defended in ways that are incompatible with the “fact” of natural selection.
Habgood's entire review is here.