Probably not, but it’s going to get one. I have just signed a contract with Oxford University Press for a book based on my experiences at creationist conferences. It’s not going to be an easy book to write, but it should be a fun project.

The basic outline looks like this:

Section one will be based on my experiences at the Creation MegaConference at Liberty University in 2005. Section two will use the Darwin and Design conference I attended in Knoxville in 2007 to introduce ID. Generally speaking, the emphasis in these two sections will be on the scientific aspects of the issue.

Section three will discuss my various visits to the Creation Museum. Section four will discuss the International Conference on Creationism which I attended in Pittsburgh last year. In these last two sections the general focus will be on religious topics.

Throughout the idea is to use anecdotes and personal experiences as lead-ins to the more substantive issues. Hopefully this will be a more engaging presentation than the more familiar lecture-format of books on these subjects.

I might include a fifth major section discussing the science and religion sessions I attended at the big paleontology conference earlier this summer. It would make a nice contrast to the more simplistic view of the subject presented by creationists, and it fits well with the general conference theme of the book. (Okay, granted, the Museum is not a conference. But it’s certainly the same kind of thing.) OUP is giving me 100,000 words to splash around in (roughly 250 pages), so I’ll have to see what I have space for.

The working title: Among the Creationists: Dispatches From the Anti-Evolution Frontline. I’m not completely happy with the subtitle (I like the title though), so feel free to suggest others.

Alas, this book will probably not be published until early 2011, so this might be the last you hear of it for a while. I am a painfully slow writer, and I am definitely going to want to get lots of feedback on the first draft before handing it in. Still, it’s a book I’ve been eager to write for some time, and I’m looking forward to really digging into it.

Comments

  1. #1 Susan B.
    August 3, 2009

    Looking forward to it! I thoroughly enjoyed the Monty Hall book, and your tales of your experiences at creationist conferences here on this blog have been both entertaining and informative.

  2. #2 Sigmund
    August 3, 2009

    How about ‘Unscientific Amer…’ oh wait…
    Never mind.

  3. #3 minusRusty
    August 3, 2009

    Among the Creationists: A View from the Front Row

    …: Seeing the Center of the Commotion

    …: A View Askew

    though on the last one you might have to check with Kevin Smith… :-)

    -Rusty

  4. #4 fact3r
    August 3, 2009

    Among the Creationists: That There Science is the Devils Work!

  5. #5 csrster
    August 3, 2009

    Congrats on the book deal. Monty Hall is sitting in my “to be read” pile.

  6. #6 SteveF
    August 3, 2009

    Jason, this sounds wonderful, looking forward to it greatly. If I may make one suggestion it’s to not underestimate the creationists, particularly the YECs. I’ve been reading Donald Prothero’s “Evolution; what the fossils say and why it matters”. In many ways, this is an excellent book, clearly and powerfully laying out the evidence for evolution. However, in some of his attacks of YECs it’s like stepping into a timewarp to the days of Gish and Morris. Much of these criticisms are hard for YECs to refute, but it’s important to recognise that YEC has become more sophisticated, more sciency sounding, over the years (e.g. the RATE project). If this isn’t recognised, then you can be accused of flailing against a strawman.

    As a specific example, Prothero recently discussed the horse transitional series (in an issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach, not his book). In this he states:

    “Every single comment on horse evolution from the creationists’ literature betrays their complete lack of any firsthand knowledge of horse anatomy or fossils and shows that they cannot tell one bone from another.”

    and yet some of the more sophisticated YECs accept the horse transitional series. Talk Origins have been pointing this out for years:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC216_2.html

    (even TO gets it wrong; the YECs in question admit that this is more than microevolution). To read more about this, see:

    http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/07/beating-dead-horse.html

    and

    http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/06/horse-series-and-creationism.html

    Now, by the sound of it, your book isn’t actually about refuting creationism. So obviously, you aren’t going to be dealing with any of these issues in depth. However, you do mention an emphasis on the scientific issues, so I think it’s important that their arguments (which as a whole are totally wrong) are dealt with appropriately. Perhaps in the areas where you are less familiar, such as geology, recieving comment from experts in the field?

    Just a thought anyway.

  7. #7 Jim
    August 3, 2009

    Looking forward to the book.
    I think the subtitle is perfectly appropriate given that much of the movement’s resources are explicitly directed toward fighting and dismantling the sciences that support evolutionary biology, and they are also explicit that they believe this is, in fact, a war. The subtitle captures the tone of their position, and I think that many people don’t understand just how serious the creationists take the “war” in which they are engaged. That needs to be expressed.

  8. #8 Lassi Hippeläinen
    August 3, 2009

    The name depends on the intended audience. Since you didn’t give any hints, I must make my own assumptions…

    “Among the Creationists: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

  9. #9 Adrian Thysse, FCD
    August 3, 2009

    I’ll be looking forward to it as well.
    How about simplifying the title to ‘Among the Creationists: Dispatches From the Frontline’. You may be able to snag a few creationist readers that way…;)

  10. #10 Blake Stacey
    August 3, 2009

    Among the Creationists: A Pilgrim in an Unholy Land.

    Tee hee.

    Anyway, congratulations! From your outline (and what you’ve said about it before), it sounds like this book might provide something pleasantly different. You didn’t just read their books — you went deep into enemy territory and lived to tell the tale!

  11. #11 JimV
    August 3, 2009

    I haven’t read most of the creationism/religion books, including The God Delusion because I feel, rightly or wrongly, that from following blogs like this one I have already heard most of the arguments which are in them – but I will probably read yours because it sounds like there will be interesting stuff in it that is new to me. Also, because it may be a book which I can recommend to my religious relatives which will make them think without offending them (much).

  12. #12 Peter
    August 3, 2009

    Have you considered not having a subtitle?

    Or is this a requirement of American publishers? (Most non-fiction I have from the US seem to have subtitles)

    I’m so buying this.

  13. #13 SteveF
    August 3, 2009

    Jason, this sounds wonderful, looking forward to it greatly. If I may make one suggestion it’s to not underestimate the creationists, particularly the YECs. I’ve been reading Donald Prothero’s “Evolution; what the fossils say and why it matters”. In many ways, this is an excellent book, clearly and powerfully laying out the evidence for evolution. However, in some of his attacks of YECs it’s like stepping into a timewarp to the days of Gish and Morris. Much of these criticisms are hard for YECs to refute, but it’s important to recognise that YEC has become more sophisticated, more sciency sounding, over the years (e.g. the RATE project). If this isn’t recognised, then you can be accused of flailing against a strawman.

    As a specific example, Prothero recently discussed the horse transitional series (in an issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach, not his book). In this he states:

    “Every single comment on horse evolution from the creationists’ literature betrays their complete lack of any firsthand knowledge of horse anatomy or fossils and shows that they cannot tell one bone from another.”

    and yet some of the more sophisticated YECs accept the horse transitional series. Talk Origins have been pointing this out for years:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC216_2.html

    (even TO gets it wrong; the YECs in question admit that this is more than microevolution). To read more about this, see:

    http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/07/beating-dead-horse.html

    and

    http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/06/horse-series-and-creationism.html

    Now, by the sound of it, your book isn’t actually about refuting creationism. So obviously, you aren’t going to be dealing with any of these issues in depth. However, you do mention an emphasis on the scientific issues, so I think it’s important that their arguments (which as a whole are totally wrong) are dealt with appropriately. Perhaps in the areas where you are less familiar, such as geology, recieving comment from experts in the field?

    Just a thought anyway.

    (my first submission doesn’t seem to have gone through, hours later, so have tried again. Apologies if posted twice.)

  14. #14 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    August 3, 2009

    Does the World Really Need Another Book on Evolution and Creationism? … Throughout the idea is to use anecdotes and personal experiences as lead-ins to the more substantive issues…

    Sounds like a good approach. Write a book no one else could write. A good example of this is Neil Shubin’s excellent book, Your Inner Fish. It concentrates on his personal experience teaching anatomy and digging up fishopod fossils. Thus, it is unlike all the other evo books.

    Title suggestion: Hi Ho Dino, away!

  15. #15 Caliban
    August 3, 2009

    Way to go Jason! Can’t wait to see it in print.

    As for alternate titles, how about:

    “Among the Creationists: A Gonzo mathematician goes undercover in the belly of a Bronze Age Beast”

    Damn. Now that i think of it, forget the book Jason. This should be made into a movie!

  16. #16 Blake Stacey
    August 3, 2009

    Among the Creationists: Fear and Loathing at Liberty University.

  17. #17 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 3, 2009

    Thanks for all the encouragement.

    Peter -

    When I wrote my book on the Monty Hall problem, I didn’t want to have a subtitle. But I got overruled by my editors. Most nonfiction books have subtitles. I think the idea is that the title is meant to be catchy and provocative, while the subtitles gives some brief indication of what is in the book. In some cases the title is so blunt and informative that no subtitle is included. I mean, really, what subtitle are you going to put beneath, The God Delusion? See also Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True.

  18. #18 Amber
    August 3, 2009

    Congratulations! I’ll be looking forward to reading this book!!!

  19. #19 Peter Henderson
    August 3, 2009

    Even though I don’t share your views on theology…..I’ll definitely look forward to your book and will put it on my shopping list. Your reports from the mega-conference were exemplary and thoroughly enjoyable to read. Nice to see these idiots being taken down a peg or two. So often they get a free reign when I hear them on the radio or TV. Few have your understanding in how to tackle them.

    If you ever feel you’re getting rusty, feel free to delve into Premier Christian Radio’s discussion forum:

    http://www.premiercommunity.org.uk/forum/topics/so-who-won-the-darwin

    where you’ll find all the old chestnuts repeated ad nauseum. You’d have fun with ploughboy, who’s an expert in genetics, astronomy, back surgery, geology, etc. despite having no science qualifications whatsoever. Really astounding.

    Anyway, good luck with the book. Make sure it’s available in the UK.

  20. #20 Peter Henderson
    August 3, 2009

    Dispatches From the Anti-Evolution Frontline.

    Sounds too much like Ed Brayton’s blog, “despatches from the culture wars”, unfortunately Jason. I think the first bit “among the creationists” is actually good. Maybe something a little more snappy to follow.

  21. #21 Neil Schipper
    August 3, 2009

    Good luck with the book. Be sure to include the story you posted a few years back about the conversation you had while waiting in line to enter a lecture; you were talking with some xtian teens and a woman joined in; she was hostile that you were having a challenging substantive conversation with the young believers; at one point, she looked intently at the kids, saying, “You are beautiful”. You smiled directly at her. She, a fine xtian woman, eventually softened somewhat, smiled and said to you, “you’re beautiful, too.”

    One of your readers, quoting that last line, added:

    “Will their lying never end?”

    Perhaps the funniest comment I’ve ever read on the internet! (This is from mem, and probably not verbatim.)

    On a more serious note, I’d like there to be more conversation in the culture war blogs about science ed. Why aren’t more kids coming out of high school knowing more about the non-controversial aspects of science; it ain’t all to do with the fundamentalists.

    Have you read Carl Wieman’s essays on the effect of first year university physics & chemistry courses on a measure of student perception of science along a scale with poles “stuff experts tell me” and “stuff I can reason out”?

  22. #22 Pierce R. Butler
    August 3, 2009

    Among the Creationists: Sex, Celebrities & Dieting on the Anti-Evolution Circuit.

    A car chase followed by a shootout would help your agent tremendously with the movie rights.

  23. #23 Pete Soderman
    August 3, 2009

    Looking forward to it! How about: Among the Creationists: Tales From the Wedge

  24. #24 Heraclides
    August 4, 2009

    Among the Creationists: A personal experience of the anti-evolution scene

  25. #25 Captain Obvious
    August 4, 2009

    Among the Creationists: The Omega Strategy

    (Might be a bit too much airport novel there though!)

    Among the Creationists: Tales from the Crusade

    My favourite though would be this:
    Among the Creationists: Help!

  26. #26 John Farrell
    August 4, 2009

    Congrats on the book deal, Jason! I’m envious. OUP passed on my last proposal. (dammit!)
    :)

  27. #27 Kevin (NYC)
    August 4, 2009

    well that is good news! we can ALWAYS use another book on the topic.

    however you have to include several chapters that are not at all serious. we need a whole chapter on jokes, and another with annecdotes of hilarious hyjinks!

  28. #28 Kansas Kaptive
    August 4, 2009

    I am a painfully slow reader, so I will definitely be pre-ordering this sure-to-be maddeningly enjoyable book.

  29. #29 Tim H
    August 5, 2009

    To increase sales, you might consider “Harry Potter Among the Creationists”, and drop a couple hints that when the movie comes out you will be played by Angelina Jolie.

  30. #30 Bryce Adams
    August 5, 2009

    Among the Creationists: A Fistful of F###wits
    On second thought, that title might be a little too “New Atheist.” For attending the creationist conferences you deserve a purple heart in addition to a book deal.

  31. #31 Evolution denier
    August 5, 2009

    MAN

    Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
    discussing as they used to be,
    said one to the other, now listen you two
    there’s a certain rumor that can’t be true,
    that man descended from our noble race
    the very idea is a disgrace.
    No monkey ever deserted his wife,
    starved her babies, and ruined her life.
    and you’ve never seen a monk to leave her
    babies with others’ to bunk,
    or pass them on from one to another,
    till they scarcely know their mother
    and another thing you will never see,
    a monkey building a fence around a coconut tree,
    and let the coconuts go to waste,
    forbidding other monkeys to taste.
    Why, if you put a fence around a tree,
    starvation would force you to steal from me!
    Here’s another thing a monkey won’t do, go out at night
    and get in a stew, or use a gun, a club, or a knife,
    To take some other monkey’s life.
    Yes, man descended, the ornery cuss, but
    brother he didn’t descend from us.

  32. #32 Guardian of the POll
    August 5, 2009

    Has anyone seen or heard from the poll fornicators at Pharyngula lately? They seemed to have banned me for some od reason. I guess they couldn’t take constuctive criticizm.

  33. #33 Chris Bell
    August 6, 2009

    I think Peter is right, the title is good without a sub-title. “Among the Creationists” is compelling, and it’s obviously going to be a story about being with creationists.

    Admittedly, it makes it seem like you used to be a fundamentalist who de-converted… but that would also be a good book! Either way, I’d want to read it.

  34. #34 Ezra R.
    August 7, 2009

    I can’t strike the chord quite right but:

    Among the Creationists: Just Happened among them Who Was Made.

    Nah. Never mind…

  35. #35 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 7, 2009

    Hey, number 32. Are you the Ezra R I went to high school with?

  36. #36 NewEnglandBob
    August 10, 2009

    30: Guardian of the POll(sic)

    Has anyone seen or heard from the poll fornicators at Pharyngula lately? They seemed to have banned me for some od (sic) reason. I guess they couldn’t take constuctive (sic) criticizm (sic).

    My guess is your spelling.

  37. #37 Guardian of the Poll
    August 12, 2009

    nah, i think it was the fact that I finally got on PZ Myers’ last nerve. Everytime he and his slaves would fornicate an internet poll, I would got to the site of the poll and post warnings about Pharyngula fornicating the poll rendering it inaccurate. This is waht ticked off the old meiser. Oh well, he’ll get over it.

  38. #38 Paul
    August 15, 2009

    I look forward to Among the Creationists, I just finished Monty Hall, and quite enjoyed it. I do think OUP should get you onto The Colbert Report – Stephen is the greatest “gut thinker” in human history (obviously, just ask him) and you could challenge him to “go with his gut” in solving the Monty Hall problem. He’s also (I believe) a Sunday school teacher, but that topic might be better suited for a visit after the publication of “Among the Creationists”

  39. #39 H.H.
    September 24, 2009

    How about “I’m with Stupid: Stories About Science-Deniers Who Want to Send Us All Back to the Dark Ages?

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