Few issues besides evolution have so strained Americans'
professed tradition of tolerance. Few historians besides Pulitzer
Prize winner Edward J. Larson have so perceptively chronicled
evolution's divisive presence on the American scene. This slim
volume reviews the key aspects, current and historical, of the
creation-evolution debate in the United States.
Larson discusses such topics as the transatlantic response to
Darwinism, the American controversy over teaching evolution in
public schools, and the religious views of American scientists. He
recalls the theological qualms about evolution held by some leading
scientists of Darwin's time. He looks at the 2006 Dover,
Pennsylvania, court decision on teaching Intelligent Design and
other cases leading back to the landmark 1925 Scopes trial. Drawing
on surveys that Larson conducted, he discusses attitudes of
American scientists toward the existence of God and the
By looking at the changing motivations and backgrounds of the
stakeholders in the creation-evolution debate-clergy, scientists,
lawmakers, educators, and others-Larson promotes a more nuanced
view of the question than most of us have. This is no incidental
benefit for Larson's readers; it is one of the book's driving
purposes. If we cede the debate to those who would frame it
simplistically rather than embrace its complexity, warns Larson, we
will not advance beyond the naive regard of organized religion as
the enemy of intellectual freedom or the equally myopic myth of the
scientist as courageous loner willing to die for the truth.
Subjects: History, Religion, Sociology
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