Theory of the Creationist/Anti-Creationist Conflict: A Sociology of Conflict

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Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social fields underlies the theoretical approach to analyze the conflict between professional creationists and anti-creationists in the United States. This choice from among the variety of social scientific theories is not arbitrary, because both the history of the conflict (see Chaps. 3 and 4) and the analysis of previous research on creationism (Chap. 5) provide open questions and problems that can be addressed in the framework of Bourdieu’s work.

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Issues pertaining to the relationship between science and religion, like creationism, Intelligent Design, and New Atheism, are increasingly the focus of social scientific research. This research often does not differentiate clearly between different kinds of social actors. At the most basic level, professional developers and distributors of systems of thought that deal with the relationship between science and religion, and laypeople who take up this knowledge, or parts of it, must be distinguished. Based upon interview material from the large, multinational study Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum, we identify five typical dimensions of lay knowledge vis-à-vis professional knowledge: reinterpretation of professional labels; neglect of important parts of knowledge systems; addition of knowledge; lower ascription of relevance; and an individual ethical framing.
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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.
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There is no conflict between science and religion. Creationism is only a local movement, prevalent only among the few sectors of American Protestantism that read the Bible as an inerrant, literally true document. Creationism based on biblical literalism makes little sense in either Catholicism or Judaism, for neither religion maintains any extensive tradition for reading the Bible as literal truth. The lack of conflict arises from a lack of overlap between the respective domains of professional expertise of science and religion. No conflict should exist because the magisteria of science and religion do not overlap. According to the principle of NOMA — “nonoverlapping magisteria” — science covers the empirical universe, while religion covers questions of moral meaning and ethical value. This principle was obeyed by both Pius XII and John Paul II. They both saw no conflict between Catholic faith and a theory of evolution. However, there is one important difference between their positions. Pius XII admitted evolution as a legitimate hypothesis, but at the same time he proclaimed that the theory of evolution had not been proven and might well be wrong. On the other hand, John Paul II stated that evolution can no longer be doubted. Now, he stated, evolution must be accepted not merely as a plausible possibility but also as an effectively proven fact. This fact is no threat to religion if one accepts the principle of NOMA. As a consequence of this principle, religion can no longer dictate the factual conclusions that belong to the magisterium of science, nor may scientists decide on moral truths.
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.
The System of Nature or, the Laws of the Moral and Physical World (Système de la Nature ou Des Loix du Monde Physique et du Monde Moral) is a work of philosophy by Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach (1723–1789). It was originally published under the name of Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud, a deceased member of the French Academy of Science. D'Holbach wrote and published this book – possibly with the assistance of Diderot but with the support of Jacques-André Naigeon – anonymously in 1770, describing the universe in terms of the principles of philosophical materialism: The mind is identified with brain, there is no "soul" without a living body, the world is governed by strict deterministic laws, free will is an illusion, there are no final causes, and whatever happens takes place because it inexorably must. Most notoriously, the work explicitly denies the existence of God, arguing that belief in a higher being is the product of fear, lack of understanding, and anthropomorphism. Though not a scientist himself, d'Holbach was scientifically literate and he tried to develop his philosophy in accordance with the known facts of nature and the scientific knowledge of the day, citing, for example, the experiments of John Needham as proof that life could develop autonomously without the intervention of a deity. It makes a critical distinction between mythology as a more or less benign way of bringing law ordered thought on society, nature and their powers to the masses and theology. Theology which, when it separates from mythology raises the power of nature above nature itself and thus alienates the two (i.e. "nature", all that actually exists, from its power, now personified in a being outside nature), is by contrast a pernicious force in human affairs without parallel. The book was considered extremely radical in its day and the list of people writing refutations of the work was long. The prominent Catholic theologian Nicolas-Sylvestre Bergier wrote a refutation titled Examen du matérialisme ("Materialism examined"). Voltaire, too, seized his pen to refute the philosophy of the Système in the article "Dieu" in his Dictionnaire philosophique, while Frederick the Great also drew up an answer to it. Its principles are summed up in a more popular form in d'Holbach's Bon Sens, ou idées naturelles opposees aux idées surnaturelles.
Cultural CapitalSocial CapitalConversionsNotes
When we trace the parts of which this terrestrial system is composed, and when we view the general connection of those several parts, the whole presents a machine of a peculiar construction by which it is adapted to a certain end. We perceive a fabric, erected in wisdom, to obtain a purpose worthy of the power that is apparent in the production of it.
I argue for the centrality of the concepts of biophysical and human nature in science-and-religion studies, consider five different metaphors, or “visions,” of nature, and explore possibilities and challenges in reconciling them. These visions include (a) evolutionary nature, built on the powerful explanatory framework of evolutionary theory; (b) emergent nature, arising from recent research in complex systems and self-organization; (c) malleable nature, indicating both the recombinant potential of biotechnology and the postmodern challenge to a fixed ontology; (d) nature as sacred, a diffuse popular concept fundamental to cultural analysis; and (e) nature as culture, an admission of epistemological constructivism. These multiple visions suggest the famous story of the blind men and the elephant, in which each man made the classic mistake of part-whole substitution in believing that what he grasped (the tail, for example) represented the elephant as a whole. Indeed, given the inescapability of metaphor, we may have to admit that the ultimate truth about the “elephant” (nature, or the reality toward which science and religion point) is a mystery, and the best we can hope for is to confess the limitations of any particular vision.
On the basis of quantitative data from household surveys in three Bosnian-Herzegovinian cities, I construct a revised model of the religious field according to Weber’s, Yinger’s and especially Bourdieu’s theories of religion, in order to analyze various religious organizations sociotopologically according to the criteria of credibility (Glaubwürdigkeit) and complexity (Organisiertheit). The purpose of the model is to determine religious power structures within a given regional context—especially in post-conflict situations, transitional states, and under conditions of precarious governance in general—taxonomically, and to provide grounds for in-depth qualitative research.
In 1830-33, Charles Lyell laid the foundations of evolutionary biology with Principles of Geology, a pioneering three-volume book that Charles Darwin took with him on the Beagle. Lyell championed the ideas of geologist James Hutton, who formulated one of the fundamental principles of modern geology - uniformitarianism. This proposed that natural processes always operate according to the same laws, allowing us to understand how features of the Earth's surface were produced by physical, chemical, and biological processes over long periods of time. Volume 1 consists of 26 chapters, a comprehensive index and woodcut illustrations of various mechanisms of geological change. Lyell begins with a definition of geology and then reviews ancient theories of the successive destruction and renovation of the world. He mentions James Hutton's ideas in chapter four, and goes on to discuss the effects of climate change, running water, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes on the Earth's crust.
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