God's Own Scientists: Creationists in a Secular Age

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Toumeys book, Gods own scientist comes with a cover with a diagram (a mindset of creationists movement) of a tree producing various fruits including: inflation, hard rock, dirty books, terrorism, communism, abortion and sex education. The diagram shows sin being the products of the tree. On the same cover, the scientific creationists are observed chopping the trees trunk. Toumey attempts to give answers on the forces that have shaped the modern creationism as well as why a theory (scientific) is to blame for all the ills observed. Toumeys efforts are focused into understanding the theological merits of the creationist movement especially the cultural as well as the social features that attracts individuals to it and binds the movement together.

Creationism and scientific authority

In the book, Toumey starts by giving an understanding of the authority of science. His discussion uses American society as the modern society. I agree that the meaning of science is not as straightforward as it sounds. Toumey (1994), states that some understandings are influential than others and creationism can be seen in relation to science through a series of three scientific meanings which include: protestant model, secular model as well as the trivial model.

Toumey argues that nature was viewed as Gods revelation according to the Bible in the protestant model, the early dominance of science. The influence of 19th century raised another model, secular model. This second model emphasized on the reasoning of the human beings. According to Toumey, the third model, trivial model, dominates peoples view on science. The model has no structure but it identifies science for what it can produce. The model is so simple that science symbols are taken to show credence onto things that are not scientific. An individual does not need to look for examples in creationism to see the truth.

Origin of the creationists movements

The next part of the book (following five chapters) describes the origin of Creationists movement. Toumey shares historical information focusing more on the interaction of the creationists, other movements in the Christian church as well as the forces from the society. The connection between immorality and evolution features consistently throughout the description. One thing that appears to remain a question throughout creationists origin is the question of whether moral decay in the society is as a result of an effect or cause of evolution.

Secular humanism is another connection that has been made in the five chapters. The author describes how secular humanism became elevated to a pervasive conspiracy thereby becoming the major enemy to a majority of Christians. The chapters also include a detailed description of how various organizations of the creationists developed. The author shows how some creationists would use scientific grounds to try win battles against their counterparts who focused on political and lawsuit actions.

Towards the end of these five chapters, creationist movements shift emphasis on Scopes trial. Much of the focus now is on Earths age and Noahs flood. This is a change when compared to the way things were in 1920s when the only significant thing was the origin of the human beings. It was then that most of those against evolutionists accepted the old earth. Henry Morris was a key influence to this change when he made the flood geology his main focus. Still in the 1920s, evolution was viewed as being dehumanizing because of its deterministic nature. This was the second change where creationists critiqued evolution. Presently, according to Toumey, emphasis has been reversed such that creationist rhetoric is that evolution randomness is a major target. The reversal is as a result of the consequences of the moral decay in the society which has been characterized by human freedom abuse as well as chaos. The exaggeration of evolution as random can be a close connection to that decay. Toumey describes the societys moral decay as an association of secular humanism.

Case study within North Carolina State

A case study follows in the following six chapters. Creationist movement is closely examined in the book within North Carolina State. A survey was done in a period of about sixty years, from 1920s to 1980s, on the history of the controversies in evolution/creation in this state. Creationism has been observed not to major impacts in other states due to the following factors: adequate influences in the Southern Baptists population as well as polices that have been set up to solve controversial issues in the school boards. The major reason as to why the issue goes unnoticed is that there are other issues that are considered of more significance by the conservative Christians in that state such as the school prayer as well as the abortion issue.

Toumeys anthropological research

In the book, God's own scientists, Toumey gives a detailed profile of the individuals who are part of the creationist movement in the State of North Carolina either specifically or statistically. According to Toumey (1994), the information was attained by conducting personal interviews, attending study groups meant for the creationists as well as attending their lectures. While conducting his research, Toumey was honest to explain to the study group what he was doing and he would also be treated respectfully and with Christian love by the group.

Throughout his research, Toumey made some interesting observations. Among the creationists he interviewed, he noted that most of the participants in the movement were engineers. This observation made him speculate that because engineers see themselves as problem-solvers, they could also be inclined to see the societys immortality as a similar problem that they try to solve in their professions. Such a view makes them grip the idea that random evolution and immortality are associated in a certain way. Toumey also speculates that the argument on entropy is popular due to its resonance with the popular premillennialism saying that, Until the Second Coming, then everything keeps going downhill. When making private conversations, Toumey was surprised to also discover that most of the creationist activists were willing to deviate from such issues as those of earths age.

In the last chapter of the book, Toumey makes a reflection of the things that he views as the major forces driving the creationist movement. He summarizes this by stating that the two overriding themes in creationism are: the unquenched hostility on the evolution idea, with a basis on the belief that immortality is closely associated with evolution, even with unclear effect and cause; as well as the quasi-religious science-awe that Most Americans share with the creationists.

In his summary, in the last chapter, Toumey speaks of two major driving forces. Toumey must have left an important driving force for the creationist movement. I believe that most modern creationism is also driven by a desire to defend the Biblical inerrancy doctrine. Toumey briefly mentions inerrancy in association with morality, such that Christians embrace it when pointing out the Bible as a source of moral truth. I would mention that inerrancy doctrine is driven by the desire of having a perfect book where people can base their faith rather than the desire to support the moral teachings of the Bible.

Some of Toumeys argument fails to convince me on some areas. According to most of his arguments, the creationist movement seems to be the defender of the Bible in various circles. The major part that the movement uses to base its argument is the saying that If the Bibles first chapter is not true, how then can any other part of the Bible be believed? Toumey misses this important description in his analysis.

In the last chapter, I agree with the section where Toumey (1994), makes some reflections that sometimes science must be shaped by the cultural values of right and wrong. In his book, he states;

But the premise that science ought not to be an immoral institution is good common sense for a twentieth century society. Science is and must be shaped by cultural values of right and wrong, and is intimately tied into the fabric of our social life , [p.257].

I agree that there should be a way in science that questions the moral meanings that have been invested in science or symbols that make such meanings tangible and the types of people that believe in given symbols and meanings.

Reference

Toumey, C. (1994). God's own scientists: Creationists in a Secular World. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

sheldon

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