[asa] Question from Nick Matzke

From: Pim van Meurs <pimvanmeurs@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Feb 28 2007 - 23:42:10 EST

Nick Matzke asked me to forward his question to the ASA group as this
group seems quite well positioned in answering his questions.


On Feb 26, 2007, at 5:41 PM, Nicholas J. Matzke wrote:
> Background to question:
> Hi ASA list -- I am working on a writeup of the history of
> creationism and ID. I don't so much need advice on the creationism/
> ID part, which I know plenty about -- I am looking for commentary
> on the background history. One broad question has me puzzled,
> concerning the terms "fundamentalist", "evangelical", "Neo-
> Evangelical", etc. in the context of the 20th-century history of
> American protestantism.
> Based on reading historians like Noll, Marsden, etc., one gets the
> following basic impression of the 20th century (I am horribly
> oversimplifying, of course) :
> 1. The broadly "evangelical" Protestantism, derived from the
> revivals of the early 1800s, was widespread and a dominant cultural
> force, e.g. most political leaders, colleges etc. were in this
> tradition.
> 2. Major strains and splits had existed at least since the fight
> over slavery, but in the 1910s-1920s "fundamentalism" exploded on
> the scene, which explicitly emphasized Biblical inerrancy. Apart
> from the fight over evolution in the public schools, fundamentalist/
> modernist battles ensued in many denominations, seminaries, etc.
> In general the modernists won, and the fundamentalists retreated
> from the cultural battles to form their own seminaries, colleges,
> media organs, etc. We can call the original, broader fundamentalism
> "early fundamentalism" and the later (1930s-on) fundamentalism
> "separatist fundamentalism."
> 3. In the 1940s-1950s, a group of conservative Bible-believers
> distanced themselves from this separatist fundamentalism, and
> started the "Neo-Evangelical" movement, which attempted to be a
> broader, more inclusive movement that engaged the culture
> politically. Notable features include the National Association of
> Evangelicals, Christianity Today, and Billy Graham.
> Now, Henry Morris and most of the traditional "creation science"
> advocates have (I think) usually been put pretty firmly in the
> "separatist fundamentalist" group. I have seen Morris, at least,
> write hostile things about the "Neo-Evangelicals".
> So, getting to my question: It is tempting to hypothesize that
> "intelligent design" is to Neo-Evangelicalism what "creation
> science" was to separatist fundamentalism. Is this wildly,
> horribly wrong, or is there some truth here? On the one hand, ID
> seems primarily to exist in the Neo-Evangelical sphere (it
> primarily gets attention in those publications, etc.). On the
> other hand, I get the sense that Neo-Evangelicals might just be all
> over the map on this, e.g. (1) many ASA people like Francis Collins
> would not have much sympathy for ID, while (2) on the other hand,
> Ted Haggard, the head of the NAE, seems to have been a convinced
> young-earth creationist.
> An alternative view might be that the old labels don't mean much
> any more, and that the relevant categorization of (broadly
> speaking) "evangelicals" these days is the Culture War. On the
> Culture Warrior side we have creation science AND ID proponents,
> all of them comrades in arms with the group of evangelicals
> fighting the battles over abortion, sex education, school prayer,
> etc. Perhaps people like Francis Schaeffer (viewed as a
> revolutionary by many Neo-Evangelicals, but who called himself a
> fundamentalist) can be seen as the intellectual founders of the
> Culture Warrior tradition. On the non-Culture-Warrior side we have
> the tradition represented by Billy Graham, Francis Collins, perhaps
> many ASAers, etc., which seems less hostile to "secular
> culture" (on evolution, church-state issues, stem cell research,
> etc.). Arching over this we have things Christianity Today and the
> NAE, where perhaps the Culture Warrior side has a good majority but
> not an exclusive voice.
> An advantage of the Culture War theme is that the conservative
> evangelical-conservative Catholic alliances make a lot of sense
> within it.
> So I would appreciate comments/critiques/scathing critiques of the
> above ideas, as well as references to scholarly work on this
> question, since I'm sure others have thought about it much more
> than me.
> Also, for those who feel that some/all of the above terms are
> useful, I would be interested on where you would place various
> theologians and institutions that are associated with the ID
> movement. Specifically:
> Norman Geisler
> Dallas Theological Seminary
> J.P. Moreland
> John Mark Reynolds
> Biola University
> Probe Ministries
> Ken Ham
> Answers in Genesis
> Chuck Colson
> Nancy Pearcey
> Christianity Today
> World Magazine
> Phillip Johnson
> Christian Research Journal
> ...and whomever/whatever else might seem relevant as datapoints.
> (My view: All of the above are clearly on the "Culture War" side,
> whatever else they may be. They would all be called
> "fundamentalist" on a 1920s definition (where basically
> fundamentalism = inerrancy). But once the Neo-Evangelicals start
> distinguishing themselves from the fundamentalists, it all becomes
> much less clear to me.)
> Thanks so much for whatever thoughts you have -- I am not planning
> on making this a major part of my writing about the history of
> creationism/ID -- really analyzing the Culture War would take (has
> taken already) many books -- but I would like to make a few
> generalizations about the evangelical context without screwing up
> too badly.
> Cheers,
> Nick
> PS: Full disclosure -- yes, I am the anti-ID activist who works at
> NCSE, and yes I am convinced that ID is pretty much worthless and
> is clearly creationism relabeled. But I do understand there is
> substantial diversity within creationism and within evangelicalism
> and fundamentalism. In any event, at the moment I am more
> interested in the above than in the specific ID=creationism
> discussion.

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Feb 28 23:43:10 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Feb 28 2007 - 23:43:11 EST