Stranger Fruit

Following on from yesterday’s section, Here’s the second installment.

Creationism, Cultural Politics and Clashing Ideologies.

If this were solely an issue of scientific observations or the veracity of hypotheses, it is doubtful that the Creation/Evolution debate would inflame such passions. While purely scientific controversies excite the scientists within the respective fields, they rarely make headlines, and never become part of legislation, or rulings of the Supreme Count. It is clear that what is being argued about here, at least as far as the ICR is concerned,
is the status of biblical literalism within American culture, and in particular within the public educational system.

The inherently political nature of many of the Creationist critiques of evolution is clearly seen in the comment made in 1985 by ICR member Duane T. Gish to the theologian Langdon Gilkey – “Gilkey, I must admit that you represent the academic world. But remember, I have the White House. And by 1995 we plan to have captured and therefore to run the Republican Party. After that, you can be sure,
creation science will be taught in all our schools.” Geo-centrist Marshall Hall, would, in 1980 say that “any member of Congress who would seek to prevent the exposure and destruction of evolution, the central and necessary tenet of this country’s officially recognized enemy [i.e. the USSR], would obviously be giving ‘aid and comfort’ to the enemy and would therefore be a traitor as defined by the Constitution.” Creationism is apparently as American as Mom
and apple pie.

While much of the heat and light about creationism has centered on biology, it is worthwhile noting that most of the “hard” sciences suffer under the creationist pen. As a single example, let us take modern physics. Not content with believing that atoms decay in the way that we know them not to, that the Earth’s magnetic field has been decreasing continually since the Creation, that “the abandonment of the concept of a medium in space [i.e. the aether] is perhaps the greatest mistake of physicists in this century,”
or deciding that the speed of light is not in fact constant, a number of creationists feel that Einstein’s theory of Relativity and the development of Quantum Mechanics are bad news for science, and seek a return to classical Newtonian (i.e. deterministic) physics. Some even advocate a geocentric view of the universe based on their reading of the Old Testament. James Hanson, a computer science professor at Cleveland State University,
has said “I sincerely believe that evolution and heliocentricity go together … To me it appears as inconsistent for people to accept creation and then to oppose geocentricity.” Clearly, any K-12 textbook written by these researchers would leave physicists and astronomers with many sleepless nights, and when they finally sleep they are likely to wake up in the Middle Ages.

Lest my more humanistic friends think that the attack on science by Creationists is purely a problem for those with a penchant for lab coats and white mice, the words of Gerald Skoog are worth noting -

“During the 1981 Texas Textbook Adoption Proceedings, there were several demands that specific areas in textbooks be neutralized by biblical ideas. For example, social studies textbooks that discussed the human transition from nomadic hunters and gatherers to farmers were criticized for not including … [the theory] that farming could not have been preceded hunting and gathering because Cain, the son of Adam, was a farmer. … [Textbooks were criticized] for contradicting or not including biblical ideas
on the role of women, marriage, sex and child-rearing.”

Henry Morris states this explicitly – “True education in every field should be structured around creationism, not evolutionism .” Even areas such as psychology and psychiatry would not escape this reform; “Human behavioral problems do not stem from an animal ancestry, as Freud and most others in these fields have alleged, but from sin – from rebellion against God and his Word … Each person has an eternal soul, destined for heaven or hell, and this must
be of primary consideration in any successful psychological formula. “

The humanities do not escape the Creationist gaze. “Evolutionary humanism today dominates the humanities and social sciences even more, if possible, than it does the natural sciences. Conversely, true creationism can be tremendously illuminating and effective if properly applied to these fields, and it is these which impinge most directly on human life.” Noting that “the very term humanities is almost synonymous today with humanism”, Morris deplores “the rapidly increasing decadence and amorality of modern literature
in the last three decades”.

This philosophy is summarized most succinctly (and I feel chillingly) by a piece in an early newsletter of the Creation Social Science and Humanities Society which states -

“We will endeavor to show that the only true and sure foundation of man’s knowledge of himself (psychology)- of his relationship with other men (sociology) – of his communications and creativity (literature and fine arts) – of his institutions of social order (administration of justice, economics, political science) – of his activities and their descriptions (history) – is the creation of man in God’s image as infallibly revealed in the Bible. All other attempts to account for man and vain and doomed
to failure.”

From the “relaunch” of Creationism in 1961 with the publication of Whitcomb and Morris’ The Genesis Flood, the movement has continually called for the complete reconstruction of the historical and social sciences based on the literal interpretation of events described in the Bible. To Gary North, Genesis offers a basis for a “total reconstruction” of economic theory and practice
- a reconstruction that is required within every social science. Outside of the biological sciences, Creationist textbooks have appeared in the fields such as history and anthropology. Some have called for a complete overhaul of the US public educational system in line with biblical literalism, resulting in the Bible being the only basis for education. Many proponents of these changes are part of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, and
thus advocate Christians to take over every aspect of society and to transform the world according to biblical principles. Following the ideas of Rousas J. Rushdoony, Reconstructionists see that all knowledge should be based on the absolute revealed supernatural authority of God, rather than sources which presuppose the autonomy of man. Rushdoony is explicitly opposed to democracy, and advocates a strict theocracy based on Old Testament law. Ironically,
Rushdoony sees all education as being inevitably indoctrination, yet feels that “education apart from God is enslavement .

This call for the reformation of knowledge at all levels and in every field have recently been echoed by many of the writings of the Berkeley lawyer Phillip E. Johnson whose target is naturalism and scientific materialism rather than ‘evolutionism’, though he sees the two as being inseparable. Johnson and members of the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture [now the Center for
Science and Culture
] are particularly good examples of neo-Creationist thought. In their “Wedge document” the CRSC outlined a twenty-year plan to overhaul American educational, political and social institutions in line with their theistic belief in a designed universe. In a campaign aimed at their “natural constituency, namely, Christians” the CRSC aims to “begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory
that supports it in the sciences “. The document later clearly delineates some of these consequences in the areas of sexuality, abortion, and belief in God. They furthermore aim to emphasize the role of theistic design in medicine, law, religion, the social science, and the humanities. The issue of intelligent design and neo-Creationism will be returned to in a later chapter, for the moment it is just worth noting that, like the ICR, the CSRC sees its goal as being a complete renovation of the Worlds cultures,
their value systems and educational goals. Amid claims for the “correctness” of cultural plurality, their lies a belief in the ultimate truth of the Protestant faith and the inherent claim that colonial society was so intrinsically Protestant that Protestantism should still rule American life. Within this worldview, the roots of modern science are seen to be Protestant and Puritan.

To be continued.

Comments

  1. #1 John Wilkins
    March 19, 2007

    Keep ‘em coming, John…

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.