Cover: Darwinism Comes to America, from Harvard University PressCover: Darwinism Comes to America in PAPERBACK

Darwinism Comes to America

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Product Details


$37.50 • £30.95 • €34.00

ISBN 9780674193123

Publication Date: 11/15/1998


224 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 linecut, 1 table


[Darwinism Comes to America] offers major new insights for our understanding of how America responded to Darwin.—Peter J. Bowler, Science

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.—Laurie R. Godfrey, Science Books & Films

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.—R. F. White, Choice

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.—David L. Hull, Northwestern University

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.’—Edward J. Larson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion

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.—Eugenie C. Scott, National Center for Science Education

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.—Frank J. Sulloway, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of Born to Rebel and Freud: Biologist of the Mind

Awards & Accolades

  • 1999 Templeton Foundation Prize for Outstanding Book in Theology and the Natural Sciences
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