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Flat Earths and Fake Footnotes

The Strange Tale of How the Conflict of Science and Christianity Was Written Into History

Hi <<First Name>>,

We are all haunted by histories. They shape our presuppositions and ballast our judgments. In terms of science and religion this means most of us walk about haunted by rumors of a long war.

However, there is no such thing as the “history of the conflict of science and Christianity" — and this is a book about it.

In the last half of the twentieth century, a sea-change in the history of science and religion occurred, revealing not only that the perception of protracted warfare between religion and science was a curious set of mythologies that had been combined together into a sort of supermyth just begging for debunking. In reality, this collective mythology arose in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by historians involved in many sides of the debates over Darwin's discoveries; from there it latched onto the public imagination at large.

Flat Earths and Fake Footnotes takes the reader on a journey showing how these myths were constructed, collected together, and eventually debunked. Join us for a story of flat earths and fake footnotes, to uncover the strange tale of how the conflict of science and Christianity was written into history.

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Praise for Flat Earths and Fake Footnotes

Flat Earths and Fake Footnotes offers a comprehensive and compelling demolition of the tired myth of an enduring conflict between science and religion. Peterson not only exposes the historical bankruptcy of this familiar story, but also shows how it became a foundational narrative for Western modernity and why it persists. Beautifully written and impeccably researched, this book deserves a wide readership.”
Peter Harrison, Author of The Territories of Science and Religion

“Derrick Peterson combines painstakingly detailed historical research with a delightful writing style to tell the story of a famous war that never actually happened. Through primary source after primary source Peterson uncovers the neglected truth that the supposedly eternal conflict between religion and science is a myth, not only in the technical sense of a symbolic story that people tell to express their worldview, but also in the popular sense. Despite being something that everyone knows, it never happened. Perhaps because the story of something that didn’t happen is hard to tell compellingly, this truth that is known to many historians, scientists, and theologians is little known to the wider public, and is even unfamiliar to some who ought to know the truth. Peterson shows himself a gifted storyteller as well as scholar, combining true accounts of famous events (which prove no less interesting than the legends that have grown up around them and in some cases have replaced them) with the story of how those events were overlaid and refashioned into the myth so many treat as common knowledge today: the untrue history of the war between religion and science. In an era full of so much untruth, Peterson’s book is a breath of fresh air.”
James F. McGrath, Butler University

“‘What if everything you ever believed about the obvious conflict between science and Christianity was wrong?’ This is how Peterson’s book could have begun. By the end of the book one is treated to an exceptional, lively, humorous, informative, and compelling account of how the fictitious idea that there ever was an all-out war between science and Christianity became fact, largely by means of the fun game many of us played in our youth known variously as whisper down the lane, broken telephone, grapevine, or gossip. This work on the historiography of science and Christianity is must-reading for high schoolers and college students, along with their parents and professors, and will, if heeded, change the way future generations will see the world. It is not easy to debunk a history that never happened, but Peterson has done precisely that, and achieved it admirably. The history of science is littered with stellar figures of immense importance, erudite thinking, and deeply Christian convictions. A new generation of Christians needs to be reacquainted with these scientific saints and Peterson’s work is a sure guide to this task.”
Myk Habets, Laidlaw College, Australia

About the Author

Derrick Peterson is an adjunct professor at Multnomah University and Seminary, a PhD candidate in history, and a freelance writer and editor.

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