Science, state, and spirituality: Stories of four creationists in South Korea

Hist Sci. 2018 Mar;56(1):35-71. doi: 10.1177/0073275317740268. Epub 2017 Dec 15.


This paper presents an analysis of the birth and growth of scientific creationism in South Korea by focusing on the lives of four major contributors. After creationism arrived in Korea in 1980 through the global campaign of leading American creationists, including Henry Morris and Duane Gish, it steadily grew in the country, reflecting its historical and social conditions, and especially its developmental state with its structured mode of managing science and appropriating religion. We argue that while South Korea's creationism started with the state-centered conservative Christianity under the government that also vigilantly managed scientists, it subsequently constituted some technical experts' efforts to move away from the state and its religion and science through their negotiation of a new identity as Christian intellectuals ( chisigin). Our historical study will thus explain why South Korea became what Ronald Numbers has called "the creationist capital of the world."

Keywords: Conservative Christianity; South Korea; developmental state; intellectuals; religion; scientific creationism.