One of the most difficult things about the life of the academic gypsy is having tons of books. Literally tons. Having been cast from institution to institution in search of that mythical full-time teaching post, we’ve put books in storage and sometimes even forgotten that we’ve had them. So it was that when I was looking for a copy of Great Expectations for my daughter’s English class assignment, I was in the dusky attic, hoping the upstairs neighbors didn’t burst in on me, up to my armpits in boxes of books, that I rediscovered a treasure. Taking a leaf from Dr. Jim’s Thinking Shop, I decided I would review a few of the Creationist books I grew up with. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to keep them although I’d long dismissed their facile, often juvenile, point of view. They have provided great entertainment and even some poignant instruction in the ways of manipulating the minds of the young. Fear of Hell is a great motivating factor to a kid who sees ghosts in every corner and finds bats on his pillow!
So, without further ado, I present the top 5 creationist books of my youth. (Those that I purchased as an adult I bought from used bookstores so as not to add any royalties to the fundamentalists’ already bursting coffers.)
We’ll begin with the textbook. Scientific Creationism makes no pretense, such as the “Intelligent Design” school does, about being non-(necessarily-but-we-all-just-happen-to-be)Christian specific. Here Henry Morris begins with the assertion “the Bible and theistic religion have been effectively banned from [public school] curricula” and offers the present book as a corrective to the situation. A better title for the content, however, might have been Scientific Fiction.
The work that really opened the flood-gates, so to speak, was The Genesis Flood. This craftsterpiece was penned by Henry Morris (again) and his compatriot John Whitcomb. Both proudly proclaiming themselves “doctors” they point out “evidence” designed to confuse the unsavvy into believing that there is a physical way the world could be entirely flooded. They even make room for dinosaurs on the ark, noting that they would have been juveniles of the various species. I’ve been in academics long enough to know that a Ph.D. does not guarantee credibility (or even sanity) on the part of the holder. The fact that Whitcomb’s doctorate is from Grace Theological Seminary ought to speak quite plainly as to its objectivity.
Written by Duane “the Fish” Gish, Evolution, the Fossils Say No! is an attempt to demonstrate that since not every single phase of the fossil record has been uncovered, the whole theory of evolution is in shambles. Gish, one of the few authentically scientifically credentialed Creationists, should have been able to see that his “back-and-fill” technique was going to fall on hard times as new fossil forms were discovered. As the fossil record grows more complete each year his book becomes more and more outdated.
Evolution and the High School Student terrified me in my delicate years. This booklet intimated that when I reached high school the unending assaults of the atheistic non-believers would be unrelenting. I feared for my very soul. Instead, in high school I found nose-picking, pocket-pool playing, and chalk-print-on-the-pants-seat teachers were among the openly committed Christians. Some even kept Bibles on their desks. (This was a public school.) The book lost its teeth.
My personal favorite is How Did It All Begin? (or From Goo to You by Way of the Zoo) by Harold Hill (obviously when he was not out swindling River City, Iowa folk of their hard-earned cash to start a bogus boy’s band). This booklet, complete with cute, cartoon drawings, convinces grade-schoolers that evolution answers no questions at all. He had me going as a kid, until I got to the part where he claimed scientists had invented a machine that could indicate if you were “saved” or not. Even as a gullible child I couldn’t buy that.
The efforts of the Creationists are tireless. Even this brief survey of books that I happened to chance upon is nowhere near a comprehensive survey of what is out there. What it does serve to demonstrate is that all reasonable people should be wary. After all, even Jesus knew that a person in the wrong, if persistent enough, could convert even a hard-hearted judge.