It was due to the initiative of Arthur Peacocke, now an associate editor of Zygon, that the Science and Religion Forum came into being in Great Britain. Its activity is focused on its annual conference, to which scholars from various disciplines are invited to contribute to the chosen theme. In March 1985 the meeting at Westminster College, Oxford, considered the subject of The Science and Pseudo-science of Creation. Apart from the intrinsic interest of the subject, it provides a suitable case study for exploring the methodological problems associated with the science-faith interface. Although there are many fundamentalists in Britain, the creationist movement is not nearly as strong as in the United States. Creationists often claim to be doing science and putting forward alternative scientific hypotheses, yet biblical scholars regard a fundamentalist approach to the Scriptures as unscientific. At the same time some philosophers of science have stressed the cultural dependence of all scientific knowledge. Therefore, central to our endeavor is the problem of knowledge. Is truth revealed or discovered? Are there reliable criteria for separating science from pseudo-science?
As the crusade to outlaw the teaching of evolution changed to a battle for equal time for creationism, the ideological defenses of that doctrine also shifted from primarily biblical to more scientific grounds. This essay describes the historical development of scientific creationism from a variety of late-nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century creationist reactions to Charles Darwins theory of evolution, through the Scopes trial and the 1960s revival of creationism, to the current spread of strict creationism around the world.
creationism • evolutionism • fundamentalism • Henry M. Morris • scientific creationism • Scopes trial
Ronald L. Numbers is professor of the history of medicine and the history of science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706. The author wishes to express his gratitude to David C. Lindberg for his encouragement and criticism, Rennie B. Schoepflin for his research assistance, and the Graduate School Research Committee of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for financial support during the preparation of this paper.
Religion and Science in an Advanced Scientific Culture by Langdon Gilkey
These are reflections on the Arkansas creationist trial by a witness for the American Civil Liberties Union. The following points are stressed: First, religion took the lead in defending science at the trial. Second, the appearance of creation science is a function not only of Protestant fundamentalism but also of the establishment of science in our wider culture. It represents a deviant science in such a culture. Third, our century has manifested many such bizarre unions of ideological religion and modern science. This shows that science is dependent upon its humanistic, moral, and religious matrix for its social and historical health. Fourth, part of the cause of the rise of creation science has been the power, status, and self-assurance of science that it represents the only form of truth. Fifth, religion in turn tends both to increase and to become fanatical in advanced and precarious cultures; religion, therefore, needs rational and moral criticism if it would help in the creation of social health.
creation science • dependence of science on the humanities • establishment of science • logical limits of science • popular science • proximate versus ultimate origins
Langdon Gilkey is the Shailer Mathews Professor of Theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School, 1025 East 58th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637.
Evolution as a Religion: A Comparison of Prophecies by Mary Midgley
The idea of evolution functions today as a myth as well as a scientific theory. This use distorts it in some surprising ways. In particular, predictions of the predestined future development of superhumans (Omega Man) are sometimes treated by scientists as if they were an established part of the theory of evolution. Since they rest on the endless-escalator model of evolution, incompatible with Darwinian methods and not separately argued for, they have no standing at all. This phenomenon, and others like it, seem to indicate spiritual needs which are being ignored and thus finding illicit satisfaction. The position is dangerous and needs more attention.
Omega Man • pseudo-scientific fantasies • science and faith • scientism • supermen
Mary Midgley was formerly senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Newcastle on Tyne. Her address is 1A Collingwood Terrace, Newcastle on Tyne NE2 2JP, England.
Science and Pseudo-Science: The Case of Creationism by R. G. A. Dolby
The paper reviews criteria which have been used to distinguish science from nonscience and from pseudo-science, and it examines the extent to which they can usefully be applied to creation science. These criteria do not force a clear decision, especially as creation science resembles important eighteenth-century forms of orthodox science. Nevertheless, the proponents of creation science may be accused of pious fraud in failing to concede in their political battles that their science is tentative and tendentious and will continue to be so while it remains archaic and poorly integrated into the rest of science.
creationism • demarcation criteria • science and pseudo-science
R. G. A. Dolby is senior lecturer in the Unit for History, Philosophy and Social Relations of Science at University of Kent at Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NR, England.
Does It Matter How We Got Here? Dangers Perceived in Literalism and Evolutionism by Eileen Barker
Creationism and evolutionism are taken to typify a fundamental opposition among the diverse beliefs about creation to be found in the United Kingdom and the United States. A comparison between the two types and the two countries suggests that people may be more concerned about the credibility and consequences of belief in an alternative account of our origins than about the actual method by which we were created. Examples of concern include interpretations of the Bible, ethical implications, and the epistemological standings of revelation and/or science that are thought to follow from acceptance of a particular belief concerning how we got here.
creationism • evolutionism • religion and science • science and religion • scientific creationism
Eileen Barker is dean of undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, England. The author wishes to express her gratitude to the Nuffield Foundation for its support for the wider research from which this paper is drawn.
Creation in the Biblical Tradition by George J. Brooke
This paper summarizes the current state of the debates in biblical criticism concerning the nature of Genesis, the genre and setting in life of Genesis 1:1-2:4a, and the reasons for the continuing significance of creation motifs in the biblical period. In identifying creation as a vital part of the traditions associated variously with the cult, with wisdom, and with prophecy (even in its later scribal and eschatological forms), Genesis 1:1-2:4a is seen to be the necessary description of how the particularity of Israel is dependent on God, of how humanity is privileged, and of how hope is tinged with judgment.
Genesis creation accounts • hope • human privilege • intertestamental literature • kingship of God • Old and New Testament traditions
George Brooke is lecturer in intertestamental literature in the faculty of theology at the University of Manchester, Manchester MI3 9PL, England.
The Great Devonian Controversy by Martin J. S. Rudwick, reviewed by John R. Durant