Dr. James R. Linville’s research project
The Creation of Myth and Meaning in Young Earth Creationism
I’m an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Religious Studies at the University of Lethbridge in southern Alberta, Canada. I will be posting updates on my research, my travels, reading, and what-not related to my research on Young Earth Creationism. I will also try to keep an up-to-date list and map of all of the creation museums, research centres etc. I will also provide some resources for the study of creationism as a social movement and world-view.
The Project in a Nutshell
My project analyzes the narratives of earth history within Christian “Young Earth Creationism” (YEC), proponents of which are predominantly conservative Protestants who hold that the universe is only 6000-10,000 years old. My research is not interested in the scientific arguments supporting either creationism or evolution but rather in creationists’ interpretations of the Bible’s passages describing creation and how these passages are employed within creationists’ communities for historical, theological or ethical edification. Of course, by “mythology” I do not mean “lies” or “errors” but narratives that are considered sacred by a group or are foundational to the processes of identity formation and other social discourses of that group.
My understanding of the intersection of sacred story (myth) and identity formation is shaped by previous work directly on mythology as a creative play involving tradition and innovation to create an imagined world which provides mental resources, maps and foils to produce and question social facts and lived experience. The project will analyze creationist cosmogonies and cosmologies that merge biblical interpretation, theologies of salvation, revelation, and eschatology with different perceptions of nature as revelatory and as an object of scientific inquiry. Of particular interest are the discourses of power and legitimacy surrounding the appropriation of the language and trappings of secular science and how beliefs about creation are intertwined with concerns about the state of the modern world and bible believers within it. The project hopes to clarify the range and complexity of biblical interpretation within the creationist movement and to relate this to adherents’ beliefs about the modern world, ethics, soteriology, and community formation.
The research will examine YEC’s hermeneutical, educational, and scientific literature as well as the numerous YEC museums, conferences, and debates as sites of continual myth-making, cultural memory, and community formation. These will be studied not simply as rational arguments for one position or another but as reflecting a kind of ritual space and performance.