The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA

The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA

by Gordy Slack
     
 

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A compelling eyewitness account of the recent courtroom drama in Dover, Pennsylvania that put evolution on trial.

Journalist Gordy Slack offers a riveting, personal, and often amusing first-hand account that details six weeks of some of the most widely ranging, fascinating, and just plain surreal testimony in U.S. legal history—a battle between hard science

Overview

A compelling eyewitness account of the recent courtroom drama in Dover, Pennsylvania that put evolution on trial.

Journalist Gordy Slack offers a riveting, personal, and often amusing first-hand account that details six weeks of some of the most widely ranging, fascinating, and just plain surreal testimony in U.S. legal history—a battle between hard science and religious conservatives wishing to promote a new version of creationism in schools.

During the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Areas School Board trial,  the members of the local school board defended their decision to require teachers to present intelligent design  alongside evolution as an explanation for the origins and diversity of life on earth. The trial revealed much more than a disagreement about how to approach science education. It showed two essentially different and conflicting views of the world and the lengths some people will go to promote their own. The ruling by George W. Bush-appointed Judge John Jones III was unexpected in its stridency: Not only did he conclude that intelligent design was religion and not science and therefore had no place in a science classroom, he scolded the school board for wasting public time and money.

A sophisticated examination of the deep cultural, religious, and political tensions that continue to divide America, The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is also journalist Gordy Slack’s personal and engaging story of the high drama and unforgettable characters on both sides of the courtroom controversy. 
Gordy Slack (Oakland, CA) has been writing about science and evolutionary biology for 15 years. He is a regular commentator on KQED, an affiliate of NPR, and his articles have appeared in Mother Jones, Salon.com, Wired, California Wild, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Slack, the former editor of natural history magazine Pacific Discovery, has long covered clashes between scientists and creationists, and he knows both sides thoroughly-his own father, an experimental psychologist, took up creationism in the late 1990s, following a conversion to fundamentalist Christianity. In 2005, online magazine Salonassigned Slack to cover a federal court case in which a group of parents sued a Pennsylvania school board after it voted to include creationist material in high school science curricula. While Slack never hides his own convictions-firmly in support of evolution-he is staunchly evenhanded throughout, giving all players the opportunity to represent themselves and their ideas. Everyone involved in the case-the presiding judge, the opposing teams of attorneys, the students and townspeople of Dover-come alive in Slack's economical yet revealing prose, and his history of both the contemporary creationist resurgence and the long-running philosophical debates behind it provide some much needed perspective on modern American culture wars. In this must-read for anyone involved in education-from federal officials to local school board voters-Slack demonstrates in crisp, clear language how science and religion are not opposites but different ways of thinking, each valuable for different purposes. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
From the Publisher
Slack, the former editor of natural history magazine Pacific Discovery, has long covered clashes between scientists and creationists, and he knows both sides thoroughly—his own father, an experimental psychologist, took up creationism in the late 1990s, following a conversion to fundamentalist Christianity. In 2005, online magazine Salon assigned Slack to cover a federal court case in which a group of parents sued a Pennsylvania school board after it voted to include creationist material in high school science curricula. While Slack never hides his own convictions—firmly in support of evolution—he is staunchly evenhanded throughout, giving all players the opportunity to represent themselves and their ideas. Everyone involved in the case—the presiding judge, the opposing teams of attorneys, the students and townspeople of Dover—come alive in Slack's economical yet revealing prose, and his history of both the contemporary creationist resurgence and the long-running philosophical debates behind it provide some much needed perspective on modern American culture wars. In this must-read for anyone involved in education—from federal officials to local school board voters—Slack demonstrates in crisp, clear language how science and religion are not opposites but different ways of thinking, each valuable for different purposes. (June) (Publishers Weekly, December 31, 2007)

"concise and readable." (Nature, 19th July 2007)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470181416
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
08/13/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
473 KB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A lively, lucid account of a fascinating trial."
—Margaret Talbot, staff writer, the New Yorker

"The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is magnificent—by far the best depiction I have seen of America's culture war that pits religious concepts of the supernatural against the materialism of science. Slack's non-polemical narrative skillfully reveals the ins and outs of creationism, intelligent design, evolutionary biology, and the nature of modern science in clear and compelling prose. Slack's own story of trying to understand his father's religious position stands as a poignant microcosm of the larger debate—adding a personal touch that helps bring into focus the frustration and sadness that is often present, but usually not acknowledged, as the culture war rages on."
—Niles Eldredge, curator, division of paleontology; curator, Darwin Exhibition, The American Museum of Natural History

"Gordy Slack's beautifully written The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything should be on absolutely everyone's must read list. Although Slack does not conceal his own evolutionary commitments, he is balanced and fair, showing above all that this is a cultural battle and not simply one of science versus religion. The book is a terrific read."
—Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and director of the program in the history and philosophy of science, Florida State University, Tallahassee

"The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is a well-told tale of the clash of two cultures—scientific evolution and intelligent design creationism—in a Federal court of law. Gordy Slack is a gifted storyteller. If the conversation between science and religion is of interest to you, get this book. The Battle is a pleasure to read."
—Francisco J. Ayala, university professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine

Meet the Author

Gordy Slack is a science writer whose articles have appeared in Mother Jones, Wired, The Scientist, and Salon.com. He is a former senior editor of California Wild, the science and natural history magazine published by the California Academy of Sciences, and a frequent contributor to San Francisco's KQED radio. His writing often focuses on evolutionary biology and the relationship between science and religion.

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