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Creationist Organizations and Their Activities: A Sociology of Conflict

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Abstract

In the previous chapter, the different variants of creationism were presented as concepts or, more specifically, as both different and partly overlapping systems of interpreting the world that also contain a specific perspective of the opposing interpretation system of secular science and, in particular, evolutionary theory. Sociologically, these ideas become relevant (and apprehensible) only when they are expressed via social action (Weber 1978:3–62). It is, therefore, necessary to ask how the social representation of creationism is structured. Who are the creationists, how do they organize themselves, how do they try to make their views public and defend themselves against criticism?

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As an American philosophical tradition, Humanism is a phenomenon of the 20th century. While it was introduced in the American context as a pragmatist philosophical program by the European philosopher F.C.S. Schiller at the onset of the 20th century, it became a popular stance only with the publication of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933. In this document, a number of American intellectuals, among them philosopher and pedagogue John Dewey and biologist Julian Huxley, presented “an effort to replace traditional religious beliefs with a stalwart confidence in our capability to achieve moral perfection and happiness along the lines and within the limits of our earthly nature”.
Article
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The forms of American creationism can be distinguished by asking what amount of secular scientific knowledge they can include or tolerate within their respective systems. Kent Hovind, a representative of Young Earth Creationism, attempts in his Hovind Theory to account for astronomical, geological, and biological findings on the basis of a biblical and literalist world view. This attempt, like American creationism in general, can be viewed as a form of rationalization and secularization of religious convictions. http://www.wissens-werk.de/index.php/arbeitstitel/article/view/119/136
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Reviewed by Thane Hutcherson Ury 7 cannot look at the universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent design, or indeed of design of any kind, in the details.' Charles Darwin, letter, July 12, 1870. We know a lot more about animals and plants than Darwin did, and still not a single case is known to me of a complex organ that could not have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications. I do not believe that such a case will ever be found. If it is . . . I shall cease to believe in Darwinism.' Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1986, p. 91. Periodically a book is catapulted on the scene that commands the attention of all factions in the creation/ evolution debate. Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box is just such a text. Behe, professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has breathed new life into the design argument and articulated an innovative critique of Darwinism which is as sure to fluster Darwinians, as it is to delight Biblical creationists. As with all of history's gadflies, Behe's apologetic is causing quite a stir. When a rigid practitioner of scientific methodology is accused of heresy by his colleagues, there can be assurance of garnering lots of attention in the public square. Since the book first appeared last year, it is enjoying its eighth printing, has been the object of both praise and excoriation in nearly a hundred reviews, and has been hotly debated on radio shows and the internet.
Article
Die Varianten des amerikanischen Kreationismus können danach unterschieden werden, wie Vieles an Befunden der säkularen Naturwissenschaft sie annehmen können. Als ein Vertreter des Young Earth Creationism, der sich von allen Kreationismen am weitesten vom wissenschaftlichen Konsens entfernt befindet, versucht Kent Hovind die Befunde der Astronomie, Geologie, Biologie und anderer Wissenschaften in ein biblisch-literalistisches Weltbild einzufügen. Diese Hovind-Theorie lässt sich, wie der amerikanische Kreationismus im Allgemeinen, als eine Rationalisierung und Säkularisierung religiöser Überzeugungen begreifen.
Article
This essay analyzes the argumentative structure of the "Answers in Genesis" ministry's Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Founded by a $27 million grant, the 70,000 square-foot museum appropriates the stylistic and authoritative signifiers of natural history museums, complete with technically proficient hyperreal displays and modern curatorial techniques. In this essay, we argue that the museum provides a culturally authoritative space in which Young Earth Creationists can visually craft the appearance that there is an ongoing scientific controversy over matters long settled in the scientific community (evolution), or what scholars call a disingenuous or manufactured controversy. We analyze the displays and layout us argumentative texts to explain how the museum negotiates its own purported status as a museum with its ideological mission to promulgate biblical literalism. The Creation Museum provides an exemplary case study in how the rhetoric of controversy is used to undermine existing scientific knowledge and legitimize pseudoscientific beliefs. This essay contributes to argumentation studies by explaining how religious fundamentalists simulate the structure of a contentious argument by adopting the material signifiers of expert authority to ground their claims.
Book
On May 28, 2007, the Creation Museum opened in Petersburg, Kentucky. Aimed at scientifically demonstrating that the universe was created less than ten thousand years ago by a Judeo-Christian god, the museum is hugely popular, attracting millions of visitors over the past eight years. Surrounded by themed topiary gardens and a petting zoo with camel rides, the site conjures up images of a religious Disneyland. Inside, visitors are met by dinosaurs at every turn and by a replica of the Garden of Eden that features the Tree of Life, the serpent, and Adam and Eve. In Righting America at the Creation Museum, Susan L. Trollinger and William Vance Trollinger, Jr., take readers on a fascinating tour of the museum. The Trollingers vividly describe and analyze its vast array of exhibits, placards, dioramas, and videos, from the Culture in Crisis Room, where videos depict sinful characters watching pornography or considering abortion, to the Natural Selection Room, where placards argue that natural selection doesn't lead to evolution. The book also traces the rise of creationism and the history of fundamentalism in America. This compelling book reveals that the Creation Museum is a remarkably complex phenomenon, at once a "natural history" museum at odds with contemporary science, an extended brief for the Bible as the literally true and errorless word of God, and a powerful and unflinching argument on behalf of the Christian right.
Article
Who should decide what children are taught in school? This question lies at the heart of the evolution-creation wars that have become a regular feature of the U.S. political landscape. Ever since the 1925 Scopes ‘monkey trial’ many have argued that the people should decide by majority rule and through political institutions; others variously point to the federal courts, educational experts, or scientists as the ideal arbiter. Berkman and Plutzer illuminate who really controls the nation's classrooms. Based on their innovative survey of 926 high school biology teachers they show that the real power lies with individual educators who make critical decisions in their own classrooms. Broad teacher discretion sometimes leads to excellent instruction in evolution. But the authors also find evidence of strong creationist tendencies in America's public high schools. More generally, they find evidence of a systematic undermining of science and the scientific method in many classrooms.
Article
Evolution has long generated bitter fights between the left and the right about whether God or science better explains the origins of life. But now a dispute has cropped up within conservative circles, not over science, but over political ideology: Does Darwinian theory undermine conservative notions of religion and morality or does it actually support conservative philosophy? On one level the debate can be seen as a polite discussion of political theory among the members of a small group of intellectuals. But the argument also exposes tensions within the Republicans' "big tent," as could be seen Thursday night when the party's 10 candidates for president were asked during their first debate whether they believed in evolution. Three — Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado — indicated they did not. For some conservatives, accepting Darwin undercuts religious faith and produces an amoral, materialistic worldview that easily embraces abortion, embryonic stem cell research and other practices they abhor. As an alternative to Darwin, many advocate intelligent design, which holds that life is so intricately organized that only an intelligent power could have created it.
Article
At the heart of the debate over intelligent design is this question: Can a scientific explanation of the history of life include the actions of an unseen higher being? The proponents of intelligent design, a school of thought that some have argued should be taught alongside evolution in the nation's schools, say that the complexity and diversity of life go beyond what evolution can explain. Biological marvels like the optical precision of an eye, the little spinning motors that propel bacteria and the cascade of proteins that cause blood to clot, they say, point to the hand of a higher being at work in the world. In one often-cited argument, Michael J. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University and a leading design theorist, compares complex biological phenomena like blood clotting to a mousetrap: Take away any one piece -the spring, the baseboard, the metal piece that snags the mouse -and the mousetrap stops being able to catch mice. Similarly, Dr. Behe argues, if any one of the more than 20 proteins involved in blood clotting is missing or deficient, as happens in hemophilia, for instance, clots will not form properly. Such all-or-none systems, Dr. Behe and other design proponents say, could not have arisen through the incremental changes that evolution says allowed life to progress to the big brains and the sophisticated abilities of humans from primitive bacteria. These complex systems are "always associated with design," Dr. Behe, the author of the 1996 book "Darwin's Black Box," said in an interview. "We find such systems in biology, and since we know of no other way that these things can be produced, Darwinian claims notwithstanding, then we are rational to conclude they were indeed designed." It is an argument that appeals to many Americans of faith.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Melbourne, 1997. Includes bibliographical references (p. 349-368). Photocopy.
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Typescript (photocopy). Thesis (Ph. D. in philosophy)--University of Illinois at Chicago, 1996. Vita. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 267-274).
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Obra de divulgación de la teoría de la evolución biológica por selección natural, a este autor se le considera un acérrimo defensor de la teoría de Darwin y refuta al teólogo del siglo XVIII William Paley sobre la cuestión de que la vida es creada por Dios debido a su perfección y lo complicado de la misma, pero Richard Dawkins considera que no es perfecta pues en las creaturas se encuentran deficiencias. Insiste además que la evolución se da como ramificaciones y en este proceso hay especies menos desarrolladas que otras aunque provengan de un antepasado común.
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Mechanisms, whether man-made or morphological, are boundary conditions harnessing the laws of inanimate nature, being themselves irreducible to those laws. The pattern of organic bases in DNA which functions as a genetic code is a boundary condition irreducible to physics and chemistry. Further controlling principles of life may be represented as a hierarchy of boundary conditions extending, in the case of man, to consciousness and responsibility.
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