The Creation/Evolution Controversy: A Battle for Cultural Power

The Creation/Evolution Controversy: A Battle for Cultural Power

The Creation/Evolution Controversy: A Battle for Cultural Power

The Creation/Evolution Controversy: A Battle for Cultural Power

Synopsis

This rhetorical study of the various language strategies and competing worldviews involved in the 140-year argument between Biblical creationists and Darwinian evolutionists focuses on the 1860 Huxley/Wilberforce debate, the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial, and the 1981 Arkansas Creation-Science Trial.

Excerpt

This book began as an effort to understand a heated battle involving the meanings of a few key words. The words are creation, evolution, science, religion, and truth, as they have been used in the battle about whether creation or evolution should be taught in science classes in American public schools. However, just as a whole garment sometimes unravels if one tugs too long at a single thread, my own thread of investigation gradually lengthened until I saw that I was questioning and challenging some important assumptions about language itself that seem widely shared throughout American politics and culture. Let me briefly lay out the contours of this unraveling starting from its first loose stitch.

While studying English language and literature in college and graduate school, I became aware of the many competing accounts of language that have been developed this century in a wide variety of academic disciplines. Many scholars have seen this proliferation as a crucial turning of interest toward language itself; they have labeled it, variously, “the linguistic,” “the interpretive,” and “the rhetorical” turn. Especially intriguing to me were the claims made by those scholars commonly called deconstructionists or poststructuralists that language is not a stable namer of reality, what Richard Rorty has called a “mirror of nature,” but a glass through which we see darkly, a shaper of the reality that we perceive. When I learned that contemporary poststructuralists have a view of language in some ways similar to that of the classical rhetoricians in ancient Greece and Rome, I eagerly turned to a study of rhetoric in hopes

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