Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Creationist

I walked into my local library, pictured at the left. I can literally walk there in two minutes---up some stairs, cross the street, and I've arrived. They just finished building about 5 months ago. Before that, no library in Hercules, CA where I live. Anyway, when I go the library, I walk straight to the new books. I looked at non-fiction and found The Creationist by Ronald L. Numbers, 606 pages, originally published by Harvard University Press and now Random House. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and he writes concerning the history of the creationist movement. He writes somewhat sympathetically to the creationists, albeit a self-proclaimed agnostic, because his dad lectured on creation as a Seventh-Day Adventist. Many would call him objective about his observations. He is no friend of those who see Scripture grammatically and historically, i. e. literally. However, he wants to enlighten those of his type who may not understand "us."

I don't think he gets the history right, in part because of his unbelief. He sees creationism historically as a relatively new phenomena. That's bogus, of course, since the founders of modern science were creationists. However, that doesn't totally ruin his credibility because he seems to be trying to be fair---really. I'm going to include some quotes from his book in days hence that I think you'll find of interest. Remember that he doesn't come at this with an axe to grind against humanists. He isn't going to give them a short shrift. And he writes this:

The likely source of this practice was his (George Frederick Wright) growing obsession with higher criticism, which he feared would leave ministers of the gospel unemployed, turn the Bible into a collection of fables, undermine modern civilization, and, certainly not least, make a mockery of his life work. Ironically, textual criticism had provided him in the 1860s with the intellectual freedom he needed to accept a baptized version of Darwinism; when he turned his back on the findings of modern biblical scholarship, he considerably reduced his intellectual options.
There is quote number one. What do you think?

I'll be gone from tomorrow Friday to late Tuesday night, but I'll try to check in on the road.

1 comment:

John D. Chitty said...

Granted that modern science finds its roots in the scholarship of Christendom, which certainly held to a literalist view of creation, but the author is not misleading to say that today's scientific creationism is a recent phenomenon. Creationism as we know it today is a reaction to Darwinism specifically and theological liberalism in general. This gives modern creationism a color that was not present before Darwin and liberalism.

I've personally been wrestling with whether to embrace the framework hypothesis, but am continually brought back to the danger of denying in any way the 24 hour nature of the creation account. When God himself writes "with his own finger" in the fourth commandment that he created the heavens and the earth in six days, I have a hard time of explaining away a young earth created in six 24 hour days as a literary device, no matter how appealing the theory is to me. I checked out Wright on Wikipedia to get a grasp of who it is your quote is dealing with, and I find sympathy with him, in light of what I just described about my own personal struggle with the 24 hour creation. The only reason I struggle is the seemingly less than persuasive efforts of today's "scientific creationists." Perhaps it's improving over time, I don't know. But I do know that regardless of how well we do at the science of it, it's hard to get away from believing that the Bible reveals a special creation in six 24 hour days.