It was a surprise and a disappointment to see Thomas Jukes give such a negative review to Ronald Numbers' excellent book The Creationists, especially considering the glowing reviews it has received elsewhere. It was especially disappointing to see that Jukes' complaints were so flimsy. He complains that Numbers "spent very little space on scientists," classifies players in the creationist battle as "creationists and anti-creationists" rather than "creationists and scientists," and wrongly (according to Jukes) characterized Walter Hearn as "perhaps the most notorious and uncompromising evolutionist in the evangelical world." None of these objections carries much weight.
Numbers' book is about creationism, not evolutionary science. He examines the lives of scientists who have chosen to defend creationism and doesn't presume that anyone who is a creationist cannot be a scientist, as Jukes appears to believe. As for his description of Hearn, it is qualified with the words "in the evangelical world," and I find it to be at least plausible. While I don't know Hearn's work well, I have found his arguments in BASIS to be better than those of his opponents. Jukes' only evidence that Hearn is not an "uncompromising evolutionist" is that Hearn "has urged teachers to adopt a 'cautious and humble attitude ...' when dealing with such sensitive topics as human evolution." I wonder what Hearn actually said, but it seems to me that a cautious and humble attitude is one that teachers and scientists themselves should adopt regarding all science.
Contrary to Jukes, I give Numbers' book very high marks, and especially recommend it as something skeptics should recommend to creationist friends. It is particularly valuable for its demonstration that young-earth creationism and Flood geology have their origins in the prophecies of Seventh-Day Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White and the writings of her follower, George McCready Price. This is a fact which many evangelical creationists are likely to find unpleasant.
Jim Lippard expresses "surprise and disappointment" at my review of The Creationists (BASIS, Oct. 1993), and contrasts it with "glowing review" elsewhere. Apparently he thinks book reviews should be promotional, rather than critical. I commented on a "glowing" review by Marsden, a creationist sympathizer, See "Marsden's Commentary," Nature, 305: 571-574 (1983).
Lippard says, correctly but critically, that I (THJ) "appear to believe that anyone who is a creationist cannot be a scientist." I infer that Lippard believes that creationists can be scientists, thus putting himself in the creationist camp. Lippard admits he doesn't "know Hearn's work well." Then why does he discuss it without reading it? A "cautious and humble attitude" (which all scientists should have to science, as I implied in my review) is not warranted towards the teachings of creationists.
Mr. Lippard's second paragraph tells us to recommend Numbers's book to "creationist friends," thus implying that we have "creationist friends," which is an unusual idea. His final suggestion is that "evangelical creationists are likely to find unpleasant ... the prophecies of a Seventh Day Adventist and the writings of her follower." This is an even stranger idea. Creationists would probably love such prophecies.
Lippard is known to skeptics who are subscribers to Creation/Evolution for his strong attacks on two opponents of creationism in Australia. See C/E, issue 29, p. 9, Winter 1991-1992, also a response to Lippard by Barry Price, and comments by Stan Weinberg, C/E Issue 31, Winter 1992.
--Thomas H. Jukes
[Jukes was a curmudgeonly skeptic who here engages in "mind reading" (first paragraph, attributing to me an incorrect view of book reviews), non sequitur (second paragraph, inferring that I'm a creationist), oddly thinks one can't have friends one disagrees with (third paragraph), and doesn't understand how many evangelicals view SDA and claims to prophecy (third paragraph). Not very skeptical of him.
Jukes' last paragraph refers to my "How Not to Argue with Creationists." My reply to Price and Weinberg is in "How Not to Respond to Criticism."]