Re: [asa] Clouser and fundamentalism

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Fri Dec 15 2006 - 07:12:43 EST

A fundamentalist is someone who takes a more conservative position than you
do and you want to put him down!!!!!!
There is truth in this mischievous definition and the word fundamentalism is
most unhelpful in most circumstances.

Properly and historical Fundamentalists are those evangelicals at the end of
the 19th who argued for the 5 Warfield Orr, Moule, Ryle,
Torrey et al. They varied over inerrancy - Orr and Moule did not hold it and
over evolution
After WW1 Fundamentalists narrowed and with Scopes etc they got their
present reputation. After WWII they broadened out with Billy Graham Stott

Today it is often used as a swear word and is best avoided

Read George Marsden Fundamentalism and American Culture for a wonderful

Now to Richard Kirwan an early mineralogist not father!. He was a prot
convert form Roman Catholicism.

I have his geological essays.

He got his reputation for attacking Hutton and his almost eternal earth.
From 1780 to 1800 the controversy was whether the earth was incredibly
ancient or even eternal as Hutton put it and dogmatically so by George
Toulmin. De Luc a Swiss Calvinist opposed this and argued for an oldish
earth possibly in 6 figures (supported by Rudwick here). He has been
portrayed in the usual myth of Genesis vs geology as a literalist.

Now Kirwan, much of is book is fine but he does lean to a young earth -
almost the only scientific writer of his age who did. His mineralogy was
standard but he did say one should use historical writings as a source as
well hence Genesis. He did no field geology and is thus marginal to the
question of geology.

It is silly to call Kirwan a fundi as it is anachronistic. Also I would
consider him as on the extreme edge of 1790s science rather than an
obscurantist fundi as well as having little competence in geology.

I find Clouser's comment most unhelpful and he needed to get the historical
context clear as well.

No wonder there are so many confusions

Am I a Fundamentalist (Ted will love to give an answer!)


----- Original Message -----
From: "James Mahaffy" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 8:25 AM
Subject: [asa] Clouser and fundamentalism

> Folks,
> Apologies if this has been discussed before, but I would like some
> feedback on Clouser's analysis of fundamentalism.
> I would appreciate some feedback from folks more into the history of
> science. I am part of a faculty group reading of Clouser's Myth of
> Religious Neutrality.
> In his chapter on fundamentalism Clouser makes what I think is a good
> point that fundamentalists tend to find the basis for their science
> (he would say all subject matters) in their sacred scriptures. In
> part I think this rings true to what you sometimes see in some forms
> of YEC [young earth creationism] and what I see in Moslem
> "fundamentalism".
> However I see a bit of a trend in the chapter of being ahistorical.
> While fundamentalism may be a useful category I am a bit disturbed
> that Clouser does NOT mention the historical context of North
> American fundamentalism rising in opposition to a liberal theology
> that was sweeping North American Protestantism and was doubting some
> of the strong Christian beliefs [like the resurrection or deity of
> God]. While some elements of this reaction do fit Clouser's
> category, sometimes the fundamentalist include the Princeton
> theologians who were hardly looking for their science in the Bible.
> Any reaction?
> Clouser also brings up Richard Kirwan, the father of mineralogy, in
> his 1799 Geological Essay. Clouser sees his looking to Noah's flood
> as a major geological event as another example of his definition of
> fundamentalism. I haven't read Kirwan, but if I am not mistaken,
> this was the age of British Natural Theology, when the accepted
> science saw God's hand in world they were investigating and one of
> the strong models at the time was to use Noah's flood to account for
> sedimentary rocks. I guess I can't see using him as an example of
> fundamentalism of even Clouser's definition with out at least
> mentioning the context of the science in which was working.
> If Ted or someone else can comment on Kirwan as a fundamentalist or
> Clouser's lack of mentioning of the historical context, I would
> appreciate feedback.
> bcc to a couple members of the faculty group. As a bcc their e-mails
> are protected.
> James Mahaffy ( Phone: 712 722-6279
> 498 4th Ave NE
> Biology Department FAX : 712
> 722-1198
> Dordt College, Sioux Center IA 51250-1697
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Received on Fri, 15 Dec 2006 12:12:43 -0000

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