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The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design

By: Ronald L Numbers (Author)

606 pages, b/w photos, illustrations

Harvard University Press

Paperback | Dec 2006 | Edition: 2 | #168598 | ISBN: 0674023390
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NHBS Price: £23.95 $29/€27 approx

About this book

In light of the embattled status of evolutionary theory, particularly as "intelligent design" makes headway against Darwinism in the schools and in the courts, this now classic account of the roots of creationism assumes new relevance. Expanded and updated to account for the appeal of intelligent design and the global spread of creationism, The Creationists offers a thorough, clear, and balanced overview of the arguments and figures at the heart of the debate.

Praised by both creationists and evolutionists for its comprehensiveness, The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design meticulously traces the dramatic shift among Christian fundamentalists from acceptance of the earth's antiquity to the insistence of present-day scientific creationists that most fossils date back to Noah's flood and its aftermath. Focusing especially on the rise of this "flood geology," Ronald L. Numbers chronicles the remarkable resurgence of antievolutionism since the 1960s, as well as the creationist movement's tangled religious roots in the theologies of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Adventists, among others. His book offers valuable insight into the origins of various "creation science" think tanks and the people behind them. It also goes a long way toward explaining how creationism, until recently viewed as a "peculiarly American" phenomenon, has quietly but dynamically spread internationally – and found its expression outside Christianity in Judaism and Islam.

"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, The Financial Times

"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

 "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

"[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 On the 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

"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

 "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


    Introduction to the Expanded Edition

    1. Creationism in the Age of Darwin
    2. George Frederick Wright: From Christian Darwinist to Fundamentalist
    3. Creationism in the Fundamentalist Controversy
    4. Scientific Creationists in the Age of Bryan
    5. George McCready Price and the New Catastrophism
    6. The Religion and Science Association
    7. The Deluge Geology Society
    8. Evangelicals and Evolution in Great Britain
    9. Evangelicals and Evolution in North America
    10. John C. Whitcomb, Jr., Henry M. Morris, and The Genesis Flood
    11. The Creation Research Society
    12. Creation Science and Scientific Creationism
    13. Deception and Discrimination
    14. Creation Research Institutes
    15. Creationism in the Churches
    16. The Appeal of Creationism at Home and Abroad
    17. Intelligent Design
    18. Creationism Goes Global


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Ronald L. Numbers is Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has served as president of the History of Science Society, the American Society of Church History, and the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, Division of the History of Science and Technology.

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