The Roots of Creationism

Where did Creationism come from?

Creationism still confuses many people. So often it is seen as a throw-back to the time when people were not so enlightened or intelligent and under the sway of church dogma.

It is amazing some still hold that and fail to recognise the scientific skills of those in the Middle Ages – most notably Christians and clergy like Bacon, Grossteste among others.

We may despair, as I do of those like Ken Ham, Henry Morris and others, who try to prove the earth is only 6000-10,000 years old and we may be tempted to pour scorn as this cartoon does.


However we should not assume that this crazy ideas were the views of Christians in previous centuries and so much of the work of scholars like John Hedley Brook, David Livingstone and Ron Numbers among many others have demonstrated this time and time again in the last forty years.

Just week my earliest contribution in 1986 was put on the web with all other volumes of Faith and Thought, which goes back to the Journal of the Victoria Institute first published in 1865. This gives a fine record of so much evangelical thought on science, often including evolution, since 1865. If you go through it you will find that Young Earth Creationism has been marginal among British Evangelicals since Darwin’s day – and as I now argue many decades before

My article was based on my initial studies in the 80s. My later work continues from that and I do not wish to change my conclusions which I put here;

To many, the roots of Creationism are obvious–a hangover from
interfering literalistic clerics like Samuel Wilberforce. That view is
manifestly wrong and is due to the whole mythology of the ‘Warfare of
Science and Religion’ which has not yet been sufficiently demythologised. Though superficial parallels between today’s creationists and
various 19th century churchmen can be found, the vast majority of
churchmen including Evangelicals were not hostile to geology, and
as the century wore on, less hostile to evolution. Thus no roots for
creationism can be found in Wilberforce and his colleagues, or the
early Fundamentalists.
There is a greater similarity of modern creationists to the more
evangelical scriptural geologists of the 1820s-1840s but these do not
find any acknowledgement today. Despite claims to the contrary,
there is no way that the roots of creationism can be found in the
multiple Catastrophists like William Buckland and Cuvier. Tracing
creationism back to the late 17th century theories of Burnet, Whiston
and Woodward is similarly mistaken, despite the common emphasis
on Flood Geology, as these theories have a thoroughly rationalistic,
moralistic and Latitudinarian and, at times, anti-Trinitarian outlook
consonant with a weak, if not absent Soteriology. Creationists do
themselves a disservice to claim lineage from them.
Ultimately there is one, and only one, root of creationism and that is
the teachings and writings of the Seventh-Day Adventist George
McCready Price, who derived his views from the teachings of the
Seventh-Day Adventists’ founder, Ellen White. This has been grafted
most successfully onto a Fundamentalist outlook which inclines to
literal interpretation of the Bible.

If you wish to read the whole article, please click on the link below

rootsof creationism1986

P.S. Many thanks to Rob Bradshaw who has made the digitising of old theology his life’s work!

5 thoughts on “The Roots of Creationism

  1. Paul Braterman

    Reblogged this on Primate's Progress and commented:
    Never forget that the claim of today’s Young Earth creationists to be following the Bible is simply untrue. The fantastical convulsions, supposedly occurring at the time of the Flood, that they invoke to explain the facts of geology are not at all biblical, but derived from the visions of Ellen White, founder-prophetess of Seventh-day Adventism. In this post, my friend Michael Roberts, geologist and priest, gives us a sample of the extensive scholarship in which he sets the record straight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ashley Haworth-roberts

      I agree – but I don’t think theistic evolutionists or old earth creationists entirely follow the Bible (I mean mainly Genesis) either. (When they discuss science and Earth history.)


      1. Ian Wragg

        Nor should they. Genesis is an ancient Hebrew text that has ideas in common with other ancient near eastern texts when it comes to the structure and creation of the universe (although the differences should not be ignored). It simply reflects the world view assumptions of the time of it’s composition. There is no modern science to be found in Genesis. Modern science would be completely incomprehensible to the ancient audience of the text of Genesis. Genesis is not a science, book and force it to ask scientific questions is to place a burden on the ancient text that it simply cannot bear. If you want to study Theology, the bible is a primary text, but the various branches of science are available to understand the natural world.


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