Numbers an "historian"?

From: Ted Davis (
Date: Wed Aug 22 2001 - 14:48:01 EDT

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    I will post just this one message concerning Ron Numbers and his objectivity
    as an historian--and I am not using scare quotes around that word. Allen or
    others may have their say, but except to correct any factual errors (should
    there be any) I will not belabor the issue and confine myself to the points

    Those interested in Ron's personal history can read some of it for
    themselves, in the very revealing introduction to The Creationists. His
    father was a leading SDA evangelist, and Ron was himself an SDA believer
    until some years after his graduation from an SDA college. As he reports,
    his lectures on the history of creationism have led people in the audience
    to castigate him for being a creationist himself, since he doesn't engage in
    debunking the ideas he presents. In the final paragraph of the
    introduction, he writes, "Although I no longer believe in creationism of any
    kind, I am strongly committed to treating its advocates with the same
    respect I might accord evolutionists." Everything I know--and I've known
    Ron for nearly 20 years--is consistent with this statement. I know
    personally at least a dozen people treated in his book, and none of them
    believes that Ron did him wrong, including John C. Whitcomb, Jr., who told
    me that both he and Henry Morris believe that Ron treated them fairly in his
    account. Indeed, Whitcomb gave Ron a pile of correspondence about
    creationism that Ron drew on carefully in the book.

    Ron is presently President of the History of Science Society, a signal
    honor that one ordinarily does not attain in this day and age without being
    known for a general absence of bias, in the pejorative sense of that word.
    Bias, of course, can also mean that one has a point of view--and we all do,
    and Ron bends over backward in his book to tell the readers what it is.

    There are circles, however, in which Ron's work is simply not appreciated.
    One of his first books was a scholarly biography of Ellen White (she is
    mentioned in various posts lately), a book that some viewed as an "expose"
    of this SDA prophetess, and a book that helped get Ron sacked from his
    teaching job at Loma Linda University.

    If Ron's not an historian, the real thing, then I'm not one either.

    Ted Davis

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