Before moving on historically, it is worthwhile to stop for a momentand consider aspects of Creationism, in what one might term thecultural context. First, as a populist movement, driven as much bysocial factors — a sense of alienation from the modern world— one would expect to find that cultural changes in societywould be reflected in Creationist beliefs. This is indeed so. Take,above all, the question of racial issues and relationships. In themiddle of the nineteenth century in the South, biblical literalism wasvery popular because it was thought to justify slavery. Even thoughone can read the Christian message as being strongly against slavery— the Sermon on the Mount hardly recommends making people intothe property of others — the Bible elsewhere seems to endorseslavery. Remember, when the escaped slave came to Saint Paul, theapostle told him to return to his master and to obey him. Remnants ofthis kind of thinking persisted in Creationist circles well into thetwentieth century. Price, for instance, was quite convinced thatblacks are degenerate whites. By the time of Genesis Flood, however,the civil rights movement was in full flight, and Whitcombe and Morristrod very carefully. They explained in detail that the Bible gives nojustification for treating blacks as inferior. The story of the sonand grandson of Noah being banished to a dark-skinned future was notpart of their reading of the Holy Scriptures. Literalism may be theunvarnished word of God, but literalism is as open to interpretationas the latest post-modernist production.
"They would be taught that He is the Creator of all things, including all living things, and that He has designed this Earth to be their home. They would also learn that creation was originally good but that it is now flawed as a consequence of sin introduced into the human race by Adam and Eve."
Teaching of evolution in U.S. schools
Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said he was surprised to see that teaching both evolution and creationism was favored not only by conservative Christians, but also by majorities of secular respondents, liberal Democrats and those who accept the theory of natural selection.
NSTA Position Statement: Evolution
Creationists present themselves as the true bearers and present-dayrepresentatives of authentic, traditional Christianity, buthistorically speaking this is simply not true (Ruse 1988, 2001, 2003,2005; Numbers 1992; McMullin 1985). The Bible has a major place in thelife of any Christian, but it is not the case that the Bible takenliterally has always had a major place in the lives or theology ofChristians. For most, indeed, it has not (Turner 2002). Tradition,the teachings and authority of the church, has always had main statusfor Catholics, and natural religion — approaching God throughreason and argument — has long had an honored place for bothCatholics and Protestants. Catholics, especially dating back to SaintAugustine around 400 AD, and even to earlier thinkers like Origen,have always recognized that at times the Bible needs to be takenmetaphorically or allegorically. Augustine was particularly sensitiveto this need, because for many years as a young man he was a Manicheanand hence denied the authenticity and relevance of the Old Testamentfor salvation. When he became a Christian he knew full well theproblems of Genesis and hence was eager to help his fellow believersfrom getting ensnared in the traps of literalism.
The Teaching of Evolution List of position statements Introduction
It was after the revivals of the eighteenth and early nineteenthcentury in Britain and America — revivals that led to such sectsas the Methodists — that a more full-blooded literalism became amajor part of the religious scene. In America particularly literalismtook hold, and especially after the Civil War, it took root in theevangelical sects — especially Baptists — of the South(Numbers 1998). It became part of the defining culture of the South,having as much a role in opposing ideas and influences of the leadersand policy makers of the North as anything rooted in deeplythought-through theology. (Note the important qualification, "leadersand policy makers" of the North. Many — especially working andlower-middle-class people — living in the large cities of theNorth felt deeply threatened by the moves to industrialism, theweakening of traditional beliefs, and the large influx of immigrantsfrom Europe. They provided very fertile material for the literalistpreachers.)Creationismstarted to grow dramatically in the early partof the twentieth century, thanks to a number of factors. First,there were the first systematic attempts to work out a position thatwould take account of modern science as well as just a literal readingof Genesis. Particularly important in this respect were theSeventh-day Adventists, especially the Canadian-born George McCreadyPrice, who had theological reasons for wanting literalism, not theleast being the belief that the Seventh Day — the day of rest —is literally twenty-four hours in length. (Also important for theAdventists and for other dispensationalists, that is people who thinkthat Armageddon is on its way, is the balancing and complementary earlyphenomenon of a world-wide flood.) Second, there was thereleased energy of evangelicals as they succeeded in their attempts toprohibit liquor in the United States. Flushed from one victory,they looked for other fields to conquer. Third there was thespread of public education, and more children being exposed toevolutionary ideas, bringing on a Creationist reaction. Fourth,there were new evangelical currents afloat, especially the tracts theFundamentals that gave the literalist movement its name. And fifth, there was the identification of evolution — Darwinismparticularly — with the militaristic aspects of Social Darwinism,especially the Social Darwinism supposed embraced by the Germans in theFirst World War (Larson 1997).