Cover image for Where Darwin meets the Bible : creationists and evolutionists in America
Where Darwin meets the Bible : creationists and evolutionists in America
Witham, Larry, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
vi, 330 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1370 Lexile.
Format :


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BL263 .W593 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The conflict between creationists and evolutionists has raged ever since the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859. And yet, even as generations of Americans have fought and re-fought the same battles, the contours of the debate have in recent years shifted dramatically. Tracking the dizzying rhetorical heights and opportunistic political lows of this controversy, Larry Witham travels to America's churches, schools, universities, museums, and government agencies to present creationists and evolutionists in their own unfiltered voices. We meet leading creationistsand proponents of Intelligent Design such as Michael Behe; evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins; and theistic scientists who describe how they reconcile God and Nature. Today, Biblical literalism is tempered by the Intelligent Design movement, which finds evidence of God's presence in nature's patterns. The once-dominant "young earth" school has been replaced by a creationism that conscripts the language of science to advance the creationist cause. Meanwhile,evolutionary scientists hesitate to point out gaps in their theories for fear that such self-scrutiny could serve as fodder for anti-evolution propaganda. In an age marked both by a rising religious tide and daily scientific breakthroughs, Where Darwin Meets the Bible provides the standard account of this lasting conflict.

Author Notes

Larry Witham is senior writer on the National Desk of The Washington Times.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Washington Times reporter Witham digs into the evolution-creation debate in contemporary America in this balanced and well-documented work of investigative journalism. Drawing upon more than 200 interviews with prominent scientists and theologians, the author charts the history of a debate that has been aggressively waged in the arena of public opinion, but with modest attention to facts. Both camps are divided across a full spectrum of dissent, and the waters are further muddied by relativist attitudes among the educated public that call into question the validity of scientific progress. Witham explores the points of political contact where evolution and creation clash, such as in public schools and colleges, the political arena and the shrines to each respectively, the churches and natural history museums. His analysis of press coverage from the Scopes trial in 1925 to the antievolutionary vote of the Kansas state school board in 1999 reveals that science-and with it the facts-typically takes a back seat in public debates to politics and emotionality. The details of the news, Witham writes, get swamped by the "meaning" of the news, which becomes framed, to cite one of his sources, within the drama of "intolerance." The author looks toward a future where the Christian right is less rural and more suburban and educated, while the Darwinist view is by no means assured of dominance. Witham's impeccable reportage, his erudite analysis and his ability to synthesize complex and nuanced strains of thought all make this book an invaluable roadmap of the evolution-creation controversy in America. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Drawing on his personal interviewing and impressive research, journalist Witham examines the contentious battles over the origin of life forms on this planet between creationists and evolutionists in the United States. Stressing the conflicting ideas of biblical fundamentalism, religious creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution, Witham's comprehensive survey covers major trials, controversial textbooks, federal funding, museum displays, university educators, and conceptual issues ranging from cosmic teleology to emerging complexity. Witham focuses on the key players in this ongoing debate, e.g., religious creationists Phillip E. Johnson and Henry M. Morris, and materialist evolutionists Richard Dawkins and Ernst Mayr. Yet lacking is a chapter on the overwhelming empirical evidence for biological evolution and the great antiquity of our own species. Furthermore, Witham does not reveal what truths biblical and creationist viewpoints contain. Fortunately, understanding organic evolution in terms of science, reason, and open inquiry is advancing despite resistance from some religious quarters. This engaging, challenging, and informative volume is suitable for large academic and public libraries.-H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ways of Knowingp. 3
1 Darwin's Legacy in Americap. 11
2 The Two Booksp. 25
3 Looking for Boundariesp. 42
4 Hearts and Mindsp. 57
5 Nature Alone: Evolutionistsp. 74
6 God and Nature: Creationistsp. 103
7 Politicsp. 133
8 Schools and Textbooksp. 147
9 Higher Educationp. 162
10 Museums and Sanctuariesp. 179
11 What Natural Scientists Believep. 198
12 The Great Debatep. 212
13 Media-Eye Viewp. 227
14 The Good Societyp. 242
15 Search for the Underdogp. 261
Appendixp. 271
Notesp. 279
Indexp. 319