Distorting History to Serve Ideological Ends
One comment by Krauze to Mike Gene's post on Hunter Rawling's (Cornell University president) embarassing use of bad history bears repeating because of its enlightening quotation:
In the post itself, Gene quotes Lindberg and Numbers:
In a speech attempting to dispell the polarization of the debate, Rawlings speaks approvingly of White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom . . .
Colin A. Russel, a professor emeritus in the history of science, refers to Warfare, as well as its companion piece, John Draper’s History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, as “polemical tracts”. He continues:“Draper takes such liberty with history, perpetuating legends as fact, that he is rightly avoided today in serious historical study. The same is nearly as true of White, though his prominent apparatus of prolific footnotes may create a misleading impression of meticulous scholarship. ... His book, which he commenced writing in the 1870s, is no longer regarded as even a reliable secondary source for historical study. It is, however, an accurate reflection of how certain liberal-minded men of his day perceived the relationship between religion and science and of how ‘history’ (or a version of it) was pressed into service for their cause.”
Colin A. Russel, “The Conflict of Science and Religion”, in Gary B. Ferngren (ed.), Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction (John Hopkins University Press, 2002), p. 10
Such judgments, however appealing they may be to foes of “scientific creationism” and other contemporary threats to established science, fly in the face of mounting evidence that White read the past through battle-scarred glasses, and that he and his imitators have distorted history to serve ideological ends of their own.
Is this the kind of history they teach at Cornell?