The Creation-Evolution Debate: Historical Perspectives

The Creation-Evolution Debate: Historical Perspectives

The Creation-Evolution Debate: Historical Perspectives

The Creation-Evolution Debate: Historical Perspectives

Synopsis

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 afterlife.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.

Excerpt

The material in this volume derives from the 2006 George L. Shriver Lectures: Religion in American History, presented at Stetson University on January 24 and 25. The Shriver Lectures were established by Dr. George Shriver, a Stetson alumnus, to bring noted scholars to the university to speak about the influence and significance of religion in the history and development of American society. George Shriver, himself a historian of religion, spent the major part of his career in the history department at Georgia Southern University, where he won awards for both his teaching and his research. Professor Shriver’s generous gifts to the university endowed this lectureship and provided for the publication of the lectures. Jointly sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of History at Stetson, these lectures combine two of George Shriver’s scholarly passions—religious studies and history.

The 2006 lectures were delivered by Dr. Edward J. Larson, Talmadge Chair of Law and Russell Professor of American History at the University of Georgia. An insightful author and engaging speaker, Professor Larson has authored six books and more than sixty published articles, dealing with topics related to legal history, law, and bioethics. Two of his books have . . .

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