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Ronald Numbers

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Numbers is an author and history professor.

His research focuses on the history of medicine and science. From a preface in one of his books: "Born and reared in a fundamentalist Seventh-day Adventist family of ministers, I learned Price's version of earth history at my parents knees. I subsequently attended Adventist church schools from first grade to college, and though I majored in science, I saw no reason to question the claims of strict creationism. In fact, I do not recall ever doubting the recent appearance of life on the earth until the late 1960's, while studying the history of science at U. of Ca at Berkeley. I vividly remember the evening I attended an illustrated lecture on the famous sequence of fossil forrests in Yellowstone National Park and then stayed up much of the night with a biologist friend of like mind, Joe Willey, first agonizing over, then finally accepting, the disturbing likelihood that the earth was at least thirty thousand years old. Having thus decided to follow science rather than Scripture on the subject of origins, I quickly , though not painlessly, slid down the proverbial slippery slope towards unbelief. In 1982, when attorneys for both sides in the Louisiana creation-evolution trial requested my services as a possibel expert witness, I elected to join the ACLU team in defending the consititutional wall separating church and state. In taking my my pretrial deposition , Wendell R. Bird, the creationists laywer who had tried to recruit me for his side, devoted two lengthy sessions to probing the limits of my historical knowledge and the thinness of my religious beliefs. On the basis of this inqusition, Bird publically labeled me an "Agnostic." The tag still feels foreign and uncomfortable to me, but it accurately reflects my theological uncertainty.