Link: Interview with Ronald Numbers about creationism

1 minute read

A few years ago, historian of science and creationism Ronald Numbers did a great interview with Steve Paulson, which is on Salon: “Seeing the light — of science”. Numbers is the foremost academic expert on the history and growth of the creationism movement, both in the U.S. and globally, and he is one of my University of Wisconsin-Madison colleagues.

This interview looks at Numbers’ own history as a Seventh-Day Adventist, his journey from biblical literalism, and his historical perspective on the strategies of recent creationists.

Well, most people who reject evolution do not see themselves as being anti-scientific in any way. They love science. They love what science has produced. It’s allowed the conservative Christians to go on the airwaves, to fly to mission fields. They’re not against science at all. But they don’t believe evolution is real science. So they’re able to criticize one of the primary theories of modern science and yet not adopt an anti-scientific attitude. A lot of critics find that just absolutely amazing. And it’s a rhetorical game that has been played fairly successfully for a long time. In the latter part of the 19th century, when Mary Baker Eddy came up with her system that denied the existence of a material world — denying the existence of sickness and death, which flew in the face of everything that late 19th century science was teaching — what did she call it? “Christian science.” The founder of chiropractic thought that he had found the only true scientific view of healing. The creationists around 1970 took the view that’s most at odds with modern science and called it “creation science.” They love science! And they want to partake in the cultural authority that still comes to science.

Hat tip: Matt Sponheimer via Twitter.