An interview with historian of science Ronald Numbers has been posted. It has already attracted some blog attention. P. Z. Myers rightly criticizes Numbers for some rather bizarre statements about the relationship between science and religion. Over at Telic Thoughts, Krauze offers this typically dopey reply.
The interview contains a lot of bloggable items, but I will focus on just one:
QUESTION: So, in a certain sense, doesn’t this represent some sort of divide between religion and science?
MR. NUMBERS: To me, the struggle in the late 20th Century between creationists and evolutionists does not represent another battle between science and religion because rarely do creationists display hostility towards science. If you read their literature, you’ll rarely come across an anti-scientific notion. They love science. They love what science can do. They hate the fact that science has been hijacked by agnostics and atheists to offer such speculative theories as organic evolution. So, they don’t see themselves as being antagonistic to science any more than many of the advocates of evolution – those who see evolution as God’s method of creation – view themselves as hostile to Christianity.
Surely you jest, Dr. Numbers.
Rarely come across an anti-scientific notion? Creationists believe that the Bible is a source of evidence that trumps anything a scientist might discover. For example, in his book The Lie: Evolution, Ken Ham writes:
My parents knew that evolution was wrong because it was obvious from Genesis that God had given us the details of the creation of the world.
When I attended a major YEC conference last year, a frequent refrain was “God said it. That settles it.” Another common imprecation was, “Do not let evidence fuel your appreciation of God. Let your appreciation of God influence your view of the evidence.”
It’s hard to imagine anything more anti-scientific than that.
Furthermore, there comes a time when the allegedly scientific arguments you are making are so weak and ignorant that you brand yourself as anti-science simply by offering them. Creationists love science and love what it can do? Then why do they persist in arguing that the second law of thermodynamics contradicts evolution? Why do they argue that natural selection is a meaningless tautology, or that the fossil record contains no transitional forms, or that elementary probability theory proves evolution is false, or that all of the hominid fossils paleontologists have collected are either fully ape or fully human? If you love science then you pause a moment to educate yourself about the basics of the subject. You try to understand what evolution actually asserts before producing countless books condemning it. You don’t routinely quote scientists out of context for the purpose of distorting what they believe.
Referring to creationists as anti-science is not meant as a description of how they see themselves. It is meant as a description of what they are. Just as the Devil can cite scripture for his purposes, so too can creationists use scientific sounding jargon in making their case. The fact remains that in both word and deed their actions drip with contempt for science and scientists. It is terribly naive for Numbers to pretend otherwise.