Cover of Matthew Avery Sutton's American Apocalypse

Although it was published a few years ago, I don’t feel embarrassed that I have only recently finished reading Matthew Avery Sutton’s excellent American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (2014). What I feel embarrassed about is that although I bought a copy of the book when it was published, I read a copy from my local public library, because my copy is in a box somewhere. Anyhow, as its title suggests, Sutton’s discussion centers on the attitude of American evangelicals toward the end-times prophecies of the Bible. Accordingly, the book addresses how they thought about and reacted to events of the day, from the Great War through the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, to 9/11, interpreting them through the lens of their premillennarian convictions. Overall, I enjoyed, and learned a lot from, American Apocalypse.

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Verdt and Wundt

If you spend any time looking through creationist literature, you will become accustomed to lists of scientists who supposedly reject evolution, doubt Darwin, and the like, although the exact complement of the lists changes over time, of course. A famous example is from Luther Tracy Townsend’s Collapse of Evolution (1905), which mentions:

scientists who have devoted their lives to the investigation of nature’s phenomena and who have taken rank in the past and who take rank to-day with those who stand the highest in their departments of study—such men as Agassiz, Beale, Carpenter, Dana, Davy, Dawson, Faraday, Forbes, Gray, Helmholtz, Herschel, Lord Kelvin, Leibnitz, Lotze, Maury, Pasteur, Romanes, Verdt[,] and hundreds of others …

Townsend, as Ronald L. Numbers notes in The Creationists (1992), “assembled one of the earliest—and most frequently cribbed—lists in order to prove that ‘the most thorough scholars, the world’s ablest philosophers and scientists, with few exceptions, are not supporters, but assailants of evolution.’”

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Charles W. Eliot, via Wikimedia Commons

I return, with cries of delight, to Hell and the High Schools (1923), T. T. Martin’s unforgettably titled indictment of the teaching of evolution. In previous posts, I’ve discussed chapter 5, “Evolution Repudiated by Great Scientists and Scholars,” which consists, as is usual in creationist books of the Scopes era, of a hodgepodge of misquoted, misattributed, and misinterpreted passages, relieved only by the occasional expression of editorial opinion, aimed at disputing the claim that there is a scientific consensus on evolution. (See “Misquoting Murchison” for a discussion of Martin’s treatment of “Sir Roredick Murchison” and “The Three Balfours” for discussion of Martin’s treatment of Francis M. Balfour.) Now, however, I want to examine a passage from chapter 4, “Evolution is Not Science.”

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Eberhard Fraas, via Wikimedia CommonsI’m looking at Oscar Fraas’s Vor der Sündfluth! Eine Geschichte der Urwelt (1866)—that’s Before the Deluge! A History of the Ancient World—because, ultimately, I tend to be suspicious. Seeing a quotation in William A. Williams’s The Evolution of Man Scientifically Disproved (1925) from “a famous paleontologist” identified only as “Dr.

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Oscar Fraas, via Wikimedia CommonsThe title of the present post really ought to be “Tracking Dr. Fraas”—or perhaps “Fracking Dr. Fraas” for the alliteration?—for, as I explained in part 1, it turns out that “the famous paleontologist Dr.

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