Material Apologetics: Interpreting the Purpose of Answers in Genesis’ Ark Replica

Recently, the conflict between religion and science—or, to be more precise, between a loud religious minority and an important part of modern biology—took the unusual form of a 150-metre-long wooden ship. After about six years of planning and building on July 7, Answers in Genesis, America’s largest creationist organization, opened its Ark Encounter theme park in Northern Kentucky. In a later round of development the park is also set to feature a recreation of the Tower of Babel and other similar Biblical buildings and objects.

Across a spectrum of possible relationships between modern science and religion, Answers in Genesis is at the end which is characterized by conflict, mutual limitations and exclusions. Answers in Genesis represent Young Earth Creationism, a belief system based on a literal reading of the Bible, which assumes the earth to be about 6000 years old. According to their calculations, the Genesis Flood happened around 4400 years ago, and Answers in Genesis makes it clear that the consequences of the Flood can be observed in the findings of modern geology, biology, and anthropology, only if these findings are interpreted in the right way. Hence, the potential for conflict between their position on science and religion and modern secular science is particularly big. Continue reading Material Apologetics: Interpreting the Purpose of Answers in Genesis’ Ark Replica

Can creationists be pro-science?

Paolo creation

If someone asked you the question: “What do creationists think about science?” It’d be quite understandable for you to answer: “Well, they must hate it.” After all, we define these people by their rejection of one of the most well-known scientific theories of all time. But beyond evolution itself, how do creationists view science in general? The first problem with answering this question is that it assumes creationists are a monolithic group of like-minded people, who all hold the same beliefs for the same reasons. In recent years, much work has been done to smash this monolith, and to rebuild the pieces into a more nuanced understanding of this group of individuals.

Continue reading Can creationists be pro-science?

What is the history of “Antievolution”?

Credit: Corbis/Getty

Perhaps nobody wants to be an “Anti.” In the American abortion debates, both sides typically self-identify as “Pro-” (Choice or Life) and debase their opponents as being “anti” something-else; anti-abortion, anti-life, anti-women. People, organizations, and statements may be described as Anti-Islamic, Anti-Family, Anti-Semitic, Anti-EU, Anti-LGBT; those descriptors are most often used critically.

We seem to live in an anti-anti era, and as a historian, it’s important to be highly sensitive to “actors’ categories” describing and classifying ideas and issues in ways people themselves used. This is why some historians of “science” and “religion” have argued against using those terms to describe human activity in the ancient world, or in non-Western cultures. At the same time, respecting actors’ categories does not mean giving historical figures license to define their own legacy. Hindsight and context allows historians to observe the larger trends that individuals are part of, even when people at the time couldn’t see them. Continue reading What is the history of “Antievolution”?

What’s the best way to think about creationists?

What’s the best way for non-creationists to think about creationists?  Some view them, unhelpfully, as inescapably anti-modern, utterly unwilling to face facts.  This unwillingness is often supposed to be linked to religion itself, with religious belief understood as diametrically opposed to the scientific process.  Science, we are told, is about facing facts, being open to correction, being willing to be wrong.  Religion, we are sometimes told, is about none of those things. Continue reading What’s the best way to think about creationists?

A Look at the Professional Creationists and Anti-Creationists

***This post originally appeared on 22 October 2015, on Ted Davis’ blog, Reading the Book of Nature hosted on the BioLogos website***

Evolution and Religion: The Conflict Narrative in Crisis

Recent results of the social scientific research on creationism in the United States raise more questions than they answer, especially with respect to long-held assumptions of what creationism actually is and what motivates people who affirm it. For instance, one of the most frequently-quoted polls on creationism is Gallup’s long-running survey that asks whether people believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” The percentage of Americans who answer in the affirmative ranges at around 45%, a number that has proven rather stable over the years. Social science has employed several methods to get beyond the layer of fact-claims established by this kind of polling and laid bare a range of moral and social motives that are at the core of people’s reasons for identifying as creationists. Continue reading A Look at the Professional Creationists and Anti-Creationists

Is the Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science a creationist? – The monkey business revisited

Charles Darwin, as an ape. Source: Wellcome Images, Wellcome Library, London. (CC BY 4.0)

By Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

During July and August 2015 the Danish public witnessed a heated controversy on science and religion in the popular media. The reason for this was that two historians of religion, Michael Rothstein and Jens-André Herbener, accused the newly appointed Minister of Higher Education and Science, the Liberal MP Esben Lunde Larsen, of being a creationist and therefore unsuitable for the office. Continue reading Is the Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science a creationist? – The monkey business revisited

How dinosaurs became the darlings of creationists

"Creation Museum 10" by Anthony5429 - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

At our Forum on Science and Religion held at the end of May as part of a workshop at York University, Toronto, Professor Ron L. Numbers of the University of Wisconsin gave a keynote lecture titled, “Conflict Denied: How Once-Suspect Evidence of Evolution Came to Support the Biblical Narrative.” In the lecture Professor Numbers, the author of many works on the history of creationism in the US, told the story of how dinosaurs became the darlings of creationists, confounding the expectations of evolutionists and anti-evolutionists alike. Continue reading How dinosaurs became the darlings of creationists