Creationism in Europe: Avenues for future multidisciplinary research

Hjermitslev, H. H. (Oplægsholder)

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentation - typerForedrag eller oplæg


In 2014, Stefaan Blanche, Peter C. Kjærgaard and I published the edited volume Creationism in Europe with the Johns Hopkins University Press. The book was the result of a collaborative project including 21 historians, philosophers, sociologists and scientists from 14 countries. The methodological approach of the book is historical and deals with religious attitudes towards evolution from 1859 to 2014 in a national and regional perspective. In this paper, I will discuss the main results of the book and suggest avenues for future multidisciplinary research.
Creationism in Europe was the first transnational study of organised religious opposition against evolutionary theory in Europe. Like the vast majority of comparative volumes within history of science, in most of the chapters scholars analyse a specific country or region. There are good theoretical reasons for this: With the focus on context and place in the historiography of science and religion a study of ideas and phenomena within a national context is a reasonable way of analysing creationism, since most creationist groups in fact operate on a national level targeting national school systems, media and politics. As far as the national and regional studies cross borders, it is often across the Atlantic to North America discussing how American creationism was imported to Europe from the 1970s. However, as the transnational chapters on Catholicism, intelligent design and anti-creationism indicate, it would be fruitful to look closer at the circulation of ideas and strategies among creationist groups across European borders and analyse creationism as a form of knowledge in transit.
The chapters rely on historical analyses of texts and websites supplemented by journalistic reports and data from quantitative surveys of attitudes towards evolution. While this approach can explain the arguments of the creationists and their impact on media, politicians and citizens at large, it does little to make us understand how and why people hold and advocate creationist views and support creationist organisations. In order to answer these substantial questions historians of science need help from sociologists of science and religion. Thus, more sociological and anthropological studies of creationist groups including qualitative methods such as fieldwork, participatory observation and interview would be useful. Moreover, it would be rewarding to examine the role of ethnicity and gender.
Finally, we need updated, valid and comparative quantitative studies of attitudes towards evolution, science and religion among pupils, students, teachers and Europeans at large. For example, we know virtually nothing about the acceptance of evolution among pupils and teachers at religious schools in Europe.
Periode30 jul. 2017
BegivenhedstitelNew perspectives on science and religion in society: null
PlaceringManchester, Storbritannien
Grad af anerkendelseInternational


  • videnskabsteori
  • sociologi