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Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line Hardcover – Apr 10 2012


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"Fascinating creatures, these creationists. Rosenhouse holds up a magnifying glass to the various varieties of this species as he strolls through the thickets of confusion known as creationist conferences. Conversationally, he draws you into a world experienced by few secularists. His anecdotes are entertaining - but also instructive about science, religion, and philosophy. An enjoyable read, whether or not you know anything about the creationism/evolution controversy." - Eugenie C. Scott, Executive Director, National Center for Science Education, and author of Evolution vs Creationism: An Introduction


"Armed only with curiosity and a razor-sharp intellect, the intrepid Jason Rosenhouse attended a series of creationist conferences over the course of a decade. The result, Among the Creationists, affords a unique glimpse at the cultures of American creationism, as well as Rosenhouse's own thoughtful and provocative reflections on science, philosophy, and religion prompted by his experiences. Highly recommended!" --Glenn Branch, National Center for Science Education


"Those of us who battle creationism usually wage the war on the Internet, on paper, or in the courtroom. Rarely do we get to know our adversaries as people. Jason Rosenhouse is the rare exception. Equipped with remarkable empathy and a deep knowledge of evolutionary biology, he wades into creationist meetings, trying to understand the mindset that leads people to oppose one of the best-supported ideas in science. The upshot is a remarkably readable chronicle that at once gives penetrating insights into the psychology of creationists while handily refuting their arguments." -- Jerry Coyne, Professor of Ecology & Evolution, University of Chicago, and author of Why Evolution is True


"From the plain foolishness of equating "Darwinism" with every social evil, to the serious implications of naturalism (methodological or natural) as viewed by theists, the author reports, documents, and then offers humane and honest judgment on the validity of the arguments. Serious evolutionists will find endless utilities in this handsomely-written work" -- Paul Gross, University Professor of Life Sciences, emeritus, University of Virginia, and co-author with Barbara Forrest of Creationism's Trojan Horse.


"This is a terrific book. Rosenhouse's incisive but accessible analysis of the never-ending problem of creationism treats the theological and scientific contortions of its promoters with both humor and pathos. His firsthand familiarity with rank-and-file creationists has enabled him to craft a response that combines a truthful account of how utterly misguided they are scientifically with a respectful recognition of their humanity." -- Barbara Forrest, expert witness for plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover


"Rosenhouse, a mathematician interested in the creation-evolution "controversy" has done a unique service. He attended creation conferences, talked with creationists, and took a serious look at the most lavish creation museum in America. These are efforts few evolutionists would be willing to endure...All in all I enjoyed reading Among the Creationists. It represents a unique attempt of a secular scholar to engage creationist communities on their own home ground and report his experiences. Rosenhouse has provided an immense service to our understanding of a remarkable, persistent, and wrongheaded phenomenon." -- Rudolf A. Raff Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN


"This is a well-written, enlightening take on a topic that has generated many books on both sides of a well-heated controversy. The author's sympathetic treatment of this deep divide is valuable. It will help both evidence-based and faith-based individuals move closer to an appreciation of the issues on the other side of this dispute." -- CHOICE


"Rosenhouse has written a highly readable and captivating volume that provides us with an exceptionable perspective on creationism and the people who believe in it." -- Metascience


About the Author

Jason Rosenhouse is Associate Professor of Mathematics at James Madison University. He is previously the author of The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math's Most Contentious Brain Teaser.

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Amazon.com: 29 reviews
66 of 71 people found the following review helpful
most accurate view of creationists that I know April 13 2012
By A. Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who was born and raised in the Deep South, I know creationists on a much deeper level than just the science vs. religion debate. Virtually all of my closest friends growing up, as well as almost my entire family, are Bible believing Christians who take Genesis literally. Despite the numerous books out there by scientists and philosophers that explain the mechanisms of evolution, its logical under-structure, and the evidence for its occurrence, I have always felt like there was a void in the literature when it comes to creationism. By this I do not mean creationist literature or refutations of it (there is plenty of both). Instead, I mean literature that correctly portrays the sociology of creationists like my family and childhood friends.

In my opinion, Jason Rosenhouse's book fills this void. Rather than just debunking arguments, the author shows what creationists actually think of the Bible and evolution. These reasons will probably be surprising for those of you who have not spent a lot of time around creationists. A good example of this is the frequency evolution is rejected on the grounds of being a brutal and wasteful process that seems irreconcilable with an all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing God (sort of a version of the problem of Evil). Dr. Rosenhouse's retelling of his trips to anti-evolution conferences and chit-chats with creationists really drives this point home. Creationists have a lot of different reasons for rejecting evolution (I think all of them are bad) and believe a wide variety of things from Young Earth Creationism to Intelligent Design (also bad). This diversity may cause you to nuance your methodology of talk to creationists.

(this book also covers all of the relevant design arguments much better than Dawkins's TGD or Hitchens' GING. While that is not the central point of the book, Rosenhouse has clearly read a lot of the philosophical literature on these arguments and methodological naturalism. He also makes a ton of great suggestions for those who may be more scientifically savvy but are unaware of the philosophical literature involving the evolution vs. creation and the God debates).

Even if this book does not lead you to nuance your view, this is still a fun read that is very well written and I highly recommend it.
34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
A Great Source for Understanding the Evolution/Creationism Divide April 13 2012
By Jeffrey W Hatley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've long been a fan of Jason Rosenhouse's blog, EvolutionBlog, and have used it as a primary source for staying current on the evolution/creationism dispute. When I found out he had written a book about his experiences at various creationist conferences, I was eager to read it, and I was not disappointed.

The first thing to note is that many of the stories recounted in this book first appeared on EvolutionBlog immediately after they occurred. However, there is still much value in this book for Jason's regular readers. The passage of time has allowed him to collect and organize his thoughts and experiences into a smoothly-flowing narrative, pausing frequently to explain the relevant pieces of biology or theology that have driven his conversations with creationists.

If you are not a regular reader of Jason's, and especially if you are new to the evolution/creationism debate and are seeking a crash course on the main issues, I cannot think of a better introduction to the subject. Among the Creationists is well-written, witty, thorough, and simply fun to read. It is *not* a biology textbook, and it is *not* a theological treatise. It is primarily a book of amusing anecdotes and insightful commentary.

Finally, allow me to say a few words on the tone of this book, since so many people wring their hands over this issue. While Jason is unflinching in his defense of science and his criticisms of creationists, the portrait he paints of creationists and IDers is wholly human, often empathetic, and nearly always positive. Jason makes it clear that, although he very strongly disagrees with those in the creationist camp, his numerous interactions with them have helped him to understand their (deeply flawed) worldviews. Thus, while the science points firmly toward evolution, and while theistic evolutionists try to build a bridge between their faith and the science, Jason understands why so many evangelical Christians feel their faith threatened by evolution, and why they consequently dig in their heels and search for ways to fit the science around their beliefs.

You should absolutely read this book.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
What Makes Creationists Tick June 19 2012
By Rob Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jason Rosenhouse has a funny hobby. He is a professor of mathematics, and though he is proud of his Jewish heritage, he is an atheist. His hobby is to go to conferences of creationists, the people who have such faith in the Bible that they think the universe was created only a few thousand years ago and evolution never happened, and to see what sort of exchanges he might have with the conventioneers. In _Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolution Front Line_ (Oxford University Press), Rosenhouse explains his hobby, his studies of creationist thought and literature, the arguments brought forth by both sides, and the chasm between them. Naturally, he thinks science has the better explanation of cosmology, geology, and biology, and his book is written with that in mind. He does get exasperated with what he sees as the downright insularity and extremism of creationists, but he avoids being condescending, just as he (mostly) avoids being so when he is face to face with them. It would be nice to think that his is a step to bring both sides closer, but his experiences in his often bizarre hobby have convinced him further that evolution and traditional Christianity cannot easily coexist.

Rosenhouse looked at both creationist and evolution literature, and found the former had some convincing points, until he to creationist treatment of mathematics, where they were on Rosenhouse's turf. He was shocked. It wasn't just that they were making minor errors: "I am not saying that creationists had interesting points to make, but had misunderstood some difficult, technical detail. I am talking instead about errors indicative of a total incomprehension of the subject." He wanted to know more about how these misunderstandings occurred, and he went, among other places, to the Creation Mega-Conference at Liberty University, the Darwin vs. Design Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky (the last one more than one time). He repeatedly reports that the politeness was a two-way street on the personal level, and is generally welcomed by other attendees in a respectful and friendly manner. It has to be admitted that although he does get into conversation with the creationists, the conversations do not go very far; at most, he can ensure that they have the experience of seeing a respectful evolutionist that does not conform to their caricatures, and he might instill some slight doubt in minds which are not already fully closed. He finds that creationists simply think evolution, with its savagery and extinctions, is simply horrifying, and would not have been allowed by God.

_Among the Creationists_ provides an excellent summary of the principles of evolution and the science backing it up, and though Rosenhouse disagrees with creationist ideas, he has done a good job of trying objectively to report on creation science and its stepchild, Intelligent Design. It will be obvious on every page which side of the argument he supports, but he understands the other side well. He also summarizes the attempts, anathema to literal creationists, of accepting theological evolution, but warns, "This is not science and evolution in conversation. This is science telling it like it is and religion trying desperately to catch up. After science has dutifully applied its methods, over the course of centuries and frequently in the face of religious objections, you do not get to redefine your words and pretend that religion had the right answers all along." The best part of his book is that Rosenhouse takes us to creationist venues that those of us who take the scientific side never get to see. There are plenty of amusing anecdotes about his explorations, and insight into why creationists believe the way they do, as well as good explanations why they should not.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Reasonable, compassionate, and fascinating. June 25 2012
By Saganite - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A former fundamentalist and creationist myself, I have never seen the ethos, the concerns, the values and deluded reasoning of creationists reflected more accurately, or with more sympathy and grace. These are not bad people...the motives of a typical creationist could hardly be more pure, tied as they are to questions of morality and meaning and concern about raising safe and successful children. But someone has placed the distorting lens of fundamentalist ideology in front of their eyes, and not without great difficulty can they see facts as facts.

I know these folks, and so even when they say things that are beyond foolish, that unintentionally insult me, or science, or the very act of trying to wrestle knowledge from a universe that doesn't care what we know or when we know it, I can still muster some friendly feelings toward them. It's what you get when bad wiring meets good intentions, I'm afraid.

Rosenhouse gives us a whirlwind tour of some of creationism's larger and more interesting venues--the conferences and presentations where rock star creationists like Ken Ham speak. He allows us to be a mouse in the corner and eavesdrop on conversations he has had with creationists in restaurants and church halls. With only the rarest exceptions, what Rosenhouse experiences and relates is a sympathetic but uncompromising view of creationists and their mistaken dogmas. Using events and court cases to help frame the discussion, Rosenhouse show us as clearly as anyone can what lies behind much of modern American creationism, and without delving very deeply into the actual arguments for and against evolution, manages to paint the picture of a subculture that superficially claims the mantel of science, while their real loyalties lie entirely with their biblical faith.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Reading March 28 2014
By Hendrik Stephanus Palm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As atheists we may become insular by not attempting to understand the theistic views. While we cannot agree with theistic blind faith it is interesting to be able to engage empathically with people who hold this view. This book does much to clarify the fundamental assumptions and core arguments of creationists. While we will always disagree it is heart warming to see theists cast as people who, like us scientists, are struggling with life's unanswered questions. Worthwhile reading, even for sceptics.


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