Too Short for a Blog, Too Long for a Tweet XXXVI
The ridicule of the press proved to be counterproductive, since it made the fundamentalists even more militant in their views. Before Scopes, evolution had not been an important issue; even such ardent literalists as Charles Hodge knew that the world had existed for a lot longer than the six thousand years mentioned in the Bible. Only a very few subscribed to so-called creation science, which argued that Genesis was scientifically sound in every detail. Most fundamentalists were Calvinists, though Calvin himself had not shared their hostility to scientific knowledge. But after Dayton, an unswerving biblical literalism became central to the fundamentalist mind-set and creation science became the flagship of the movement. It would become impossible to discuss the issue rationally, because evolution was no longer merely a scientific hypothesis but a “symbol,” indelibly imbued with the misery of defeat and humiliation. The early history of the first fundamentalist movement in the modern era proved to be paradigmatic. When attacking religion that seems obscurantist, critics must be aware that this assault is likely to make it more extreme.