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Creation-Evolution Debate

Historical Perspectives

Edward J. Larson

Publication Year: 2007

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.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xi

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 ...

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xv

In his role as chair of the George H. Shriver Lectures Committee at Stetson University, Mitchell G. Reddish asked me to speak on the history science and religion in America, with particular reference to the continuing debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools. At the time of his invitation, this debate had intensified with the revival of popular ...

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Darwinism and the Victorian Soul

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pp. 1-13

I have read your book with more pain than pleasure,” Cambridge geologist Adam Sedgwick wrote sadly to Charles Darwin within a week of receiving a prepublication copy of his former student’s On the Origin of Species in 1859. “’Tis the crown & glory of organic science that it does thro’ final cause, link material to moral. . . . You have ignored this link; &, if I ...

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The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution

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pp. 14-36

The American controversy over creation and evolution is primarily fought over what is taught in U.S. public high school biology classes. Virtually no one disputes teaching the theory of evolution in public colleges and universities or using public funding to support evolutionary research in agriculture or medicine. And there is no serious debate over the core evolutionary ...

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Scientists and Religion in America

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pp. 37-54

The United States increasingly relies on science and the systemic exploitation of the natural world by scientific researchers to fuel its economy, defend its borders, and enhance the health of its people. At the same time, however, the United States remains a deeply religious country where more people than ever appear to be seeking answers to fundamental ...

Appendix: Historical Surveys of the Religious Beliefs of American Scientists

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pp. 55-60

Index

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pp. 61-66


E-ISBN-13: 9780820336541
E-ISBN-10: 0820336548
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820329123
Print-ISBN-10: 0820329126

Page Count: 88
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: George H. Shriver Lecture Series in Religion in American History

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Subject Headings

  • Evolution (Biology) -- United States.
  • Evolution (Biology) -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
  • Scientists -- Religious life.
  • Scientists -- United States.
  • Creationism -- United States.
  • Religion and science -- United States.
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