The question of teaching evolution in the public schools is a continuing and frequently heated political issue in America. From Tennessee's Scopes Trial in 1925 to recent battles that have erupted in Louisiana, Kansas, Ohio, and countless other localities, the critics and supporters of evolution have fought nonstop over the role of science and religion in American public life.
In American Genesis, Jeffrey P. Moran explores the ways in which the evolution debate has reverberated beyond the confines of state legislatures and courthouses. Using extensive research in newspapers, periodicals, and archives, Moran shows that social forces such as gender, regionalism, and race have intersected with the debate over evolution in ways that shed light on modern American culture. He investigates, for instance, how antievolutionism deepened the cultural divisions between North and South--northerners embraced evolution as a sign of sectional enlightenment, while southerners defined themselves as the standard bearers of true Christianity. Evolution debates also exposed a deep gulf between conservative Black Christians and secular intellectuals such as W. E. B. DuBois. Moran also explores the ways in which the struggle has played out in the universities, on the internet, and even within the evangelical community. Throughout, he shows that evolution has served as a weapon, as an enforcer of identity, and as a polarizing force both within and without the churches.
America has both the most advanced scientific infrastructure as well as the highest rate of church adherence among developed nations, and the issues raised in the evolution controversies touch the heart of our national identity. American Genesis makes an important contribution to our understanding of the impact of this contentious issue, revealing how its tendrils have stretched out to touch virtually every corner of our lives.
Jeffrey P. Moran is Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Teaching Sex: The Shaping of Adolescence in the Twentieth Century and The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents.
"Moran...explores aspects of creationism that receive scant attention elsewhere...A well-written, thoroughly researched, valuable contribution. Highly recommended." --CHOICE
"Just when I thought there was little more to be said about creationism in America along comes Jeffrey Moran's sparkling new book, American Genesis
. It not only introduces previously overlooked groups such as women and African Americans but also sheds welcome new light on the entire century-old controversy."-- Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists
"How has antievolution survived what Walter Lippmann called 'the acids of modernity'? Looking carefully at American diversity-racial, religious, and regional-Jeffrey P. Moran provides our best set of answers since Lippmann himself. Modernity has its own chemistry, to be sure, but it will never dissolve our deepest differences. And nobody has told that tale with more originality--or more sensitivity--than Jeff Moran." -- Jonathan Zimmerman, New York University
"There is a long and disappointing history of antievolutionism in the United States, but many components of the story are unfamiliar. The role of region, women, and race, just for starters, deserves to be better known, as do the little-known stories of evangelical scholars who accept evolution. Moran's book is a welcome addition to this scholarship. I learned a lot from it."-- Eugenie C. Scott, National Center for Science Education
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