Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective: Revival of Religious Fundamentalism in East and West

By Bronislaw Misztal; Anson Shupe | Go to book overview

nity, these issues were settled long ago. Instead, creationism provides cultural traditionalists with a raison d'être that can bring coherence to their opposition to a wide range of sociopolitical trends such as abortion rights, gay rights, drug use, pornography, equal rights for women, and so on. After all, creationists argue, if one accepts that scripture may not be literally accurate, then how is one to know that salvation can be obtained by adherence to a revealed divine plan? For these persons, belief in evolution becomes the first step down the slippery slope to secular humanism, with its emphasis on flexible ethics derived out of social interaction. Therefore, creationists argue that acceptance of evolution will lead to all the social problems and moral vacuousness seen in contemporary society. From such a perspective, even devout fellow Christians, if they accept evolution, are nearly as bad as secular humanists.

In a time of anomie brought on not by a collapse of values but by exposure to too many competing value systems, the problem for any group wishing to preserve control over the means of cultural reproduction is how to legitimate its own worldview better than can any other group. Ironically, creationists who accuse mainstream science of being elitist and morally barren do not hesitate to turn to science to seek legitimation for their own worldview.

Cultural modernists have been predicting the demise of creationism for decades, and they are still waiting. Because creationism represents the focus of conflicting worldviews, there is every reason to believe that their wait will continue for decades to come.


NOTES
1.
See, for example, Joseph Gusfield ( 1963) analysis of the temperance movement or Louis B. Zurcher ( 1971) study of antipornography campaigns.
2.
Scientific creationism draws heavily on Scottish realist philosophy, which in turn is descended from Baconian inductivism. In such systems, widely popular until the later part of the nineteenth century, the task of science was seen as the collection and arrangement of "facts," leading eventually to self-evident conclusions. Terms like "theory" and "hypothesis" were mistrusted as indicating mere speculation. This is sharply different from modern conceptions of the scientific method, in which theories are testable structures of ideas meant to explain data.

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