Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution / Edition 3

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Trial and Error traces the coverage or lack thereof, of evolution in textbooks used in American public schools from the mid-1800s to the present. While the teaching of Darwinian evolution was common and not controversial in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, the debates between evolutionists and creationists, those who argue that the Biblical theory of origins deserves equal treatment, have flared throughout the twentieth century—first in the 1920s, most famously in the Scopes trial; again in the 1960s, when the regional legislation banning the teaching of evolution was overturned, notably in Arkansas and Louisiana; and throughout the 1980s with various controversies over science textbooks, including California. Larson proposes to bring the subject up to the present through a discussion of recent trends, including the "intelligent design" movement, led by Phillip Johnson, a revised form of anti-evolutionism that gained popularity on college campuses; the impact of Michael Behe's versions of evolution; and debates over what counts as evidence for and against evolution—all of which have influenced debates over science standards, particularly at state and local levels. This new chapter will chronicle anti-evolution actions in Kansas and elsewhere and counter-actions by the National Academy of Science and other anti-creationist groups. This updated classic work presents a balanced historical interpretation of legal and educational debates over evolutionism, and will appeal to those interested in the fields of history, religion, science, and law.

A study over the debate over teaching evolution in the public schools.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Larson...ably illuminates the legal and constitutional issues...yet he is admirably aware that what transpires in state houses and law courts usually reflects larger social forces." —-The New Republic

"The main contribution of the book is that it traces clearly the legal controversies surrounding evolution and creationism in American high schools, but readers will also enjoy a vivid retelling of personal credos, political machinations, pedagogical developments, and other historical circumstances surrounding the vicissitudes of 'public science' in the schools."—-Science

"The publication in 1985 of an important study of the persistent controversy over the theory of evolution by Edward J. Larson received scant attention in several major historical journals....Whatever the reasons for this oversight, Larson, fortuneatly, has expanded the original edition....Larson's study is written in clear, crisp prose that makes complex legal issues easily comprehensible to the nonspecialist....Few will be so naive as to believe that the court decisions of the 1980s have laid to rest the creationist-evolutionist debate." —-Isis

"The merging of several disciplines in a single scholar proves unusually rewarding to the treatment of creationism in American education. Whatever the outcome of the current cases...the need for a scholarly assessment of antecedents and prospects in this area has never been clearer." —-Journal of Law and Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195154702
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward J. Larson, former Associate Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, teaches History and Law at the University of Georgia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Scene of the Crime: Evolution in American Education Before 1920 7
2 Outlawing Evolution, 1920-1925 28
3 Enforcing the Law, 1925-1960 58
4 Legalizing Evolution, 1961-1970 93
5 Legislating Equal Time, 1970-1981 125
6 Outlawing Creation, 1981-1990 156
7 Mandating Evolution: The 1990s and Beyond 185
Conclusion 210
Appendix 214
Notes 216
Bibliographic Note 260
Index 265
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