In 1997, even as Pope John Paul II was conceding that evolution was "more than just a theory," local school boards and state legislatures were still wrangling over the teaching of origins--and nearly half of all Americans polled believed in the recent special creation of the first humans. Why do so many Americans still resist the ideas laid out by Darwin in On the Origin of Species? Focusing on crucial aspects of the history of Darwinism in America, Ronald Numbers gets to the heart of this question.
Judiciously assessing the facts, Numbers refutes a host of widespread misconceptions: about the impact of Darwin's work on the religious ideas of scientists, about the character of the issues that exercised scientists of the immediate post-Darwin generation, about the Scopes trial of 1925 and its consequences for American schools, and about the regional and denominational distribution of pro- and anti-evolutionary sentiments.
Displaying the expertise that has made Numbers one of the most respected historians of his generation, Darwinism Comes to America provides a much-needed historical perspective on today's quarrels about creationism and evolution--and illuminates the specifically American nature of this struggle.
[Darwinism Comes to America] offers major new insights for our understanding of how America responded to Darwin.
Numbers's carefully researched study helps us understand the origin of the wide-ranging attitudes towards creation and evolution found among conservative Christians today. Darwinism Comes to America is a worthy successor to The Creationists.
In Darwin Comes to America, Ronald Numbers enriches our understanding of the origin debate by exploring the beliefs of a broader range of American scientists and religious sects than heretofore chronicled. Importantly, he extends the story into the late 1990s by including the repackaged anti-evolutionism of those championing "intellegent design."
This is an interesting, important, and concise book by a top-notch historian of science. It deals primarily with the late-19th- and early-20th-century reception of Darwinism in the United States as experienced by scientists, scientific organizations, and religious organizations...[Numbers's] underlying thesis is that the reception of Darwinism was neither as revolutionary as evolutionists say, nor as insignificant as the creationists say. Numbers argues that, in fact, there was much internal debate within both sides over the scientific meaning of "evolution" and the biblical interpretation of "creation," and therefore these was actually a constellation of views within both camps...This relatively slim volume really covers a lot of uncharted territory in six short chapters; it includes chapters on the Scopes trial and the evolutionary debate within the Seventh Day Adventist, Holiness, and Pentecostal churches. Accessible to general readers and all academic levels, this is a priority acquisition for well-established history of science and religious history collections.
In this short, but pithy, book, historian Ronald L. Numbers documents the reception of Darwinism in America, both within scientific circles and among the general public...Numbers does a superb job of detailing Adventist, Holiness, and Pentecostal responses to Darwinism. He shows how and why, at the time of the Scopes trial, few "biblical literalists" interpreted the Bible as claiming a recent creation in six 24-hour days, but by the late 20th century young-Earth creationism had become the dominant form of organized antievolutionism in America...Throughout the book, Numbers confronts what he calls myths or misperceptions that have infiltrated the popular consciousness of the history of Darwinism.
In this fascinating book, Numbers transforms our understanding of the reception of Darwinism in America when he shifts his attention from a few major figures to a wider sampling of America scientists. He also chronicle the fortune of the Creationist opposition to Darwinism from its inception in the late nineteenth century to the Scopes trial in 1925 and the call for equal time today. this book would be ideal for an undergraduate course on science and society.
Ronald Numbers has provided an exceptionally informative overview of a fascinating episode in the history of ideas. He dissects Charles Darwin's impact on American thought with admirable scholary sophistication, and in the process he succeeds in resolving a host of issues that have been fervently debated by previous generations of intellectual historians.
- 224 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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