September 24, 2009
God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom
My new book is now available! I received my copy in the mail yesterday.
I have a request to make of readers of this blog. If you have the time, I would really appreciate it if you could write reviews of the book on sites like Amazon and elsewhere, and make the book known to people and groups whom you think might be interested in it or might like me to come and give talks on it.
The book deals with the thorny question of the role of religion and the Bible in US schools. While school prayer has been one important facet of these attempts and has perhaps received the most publicity, the teaching of evolution has also been, at least in the US, the focus of many court cases involving various subtle shades of meaning and interpretation of the U.S. constitution, testing in particular the limits of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US constitution, which states simply that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
My book interweaves this general history of religion in schools with the specific history of the opposition to the teaching of evolution in US classrooms, starting with the Scopes trial in 1925 and ending with the intelligent design Dover trial in 2005, focusing on how the nature of this opposition has itself evolved as a result of repeated setbacks in the courts.
The book's dust jacket gives a good synopsis of the book.
In God vs. Darwin, Mano Singham dissects the legal battle between evolution and creationism in the classroom beginning with the Scopes Monkey trial in 1925 and ending with an intelligent design trial in Dover, Pennsylvania, in 2005. A publicity stunt, the Scopes Monkey trial had less to do with legal precedence than with generating tourism dollars for a rural Tennessee town. But the trial did successfully spark a debate that has lasted more than 80 years and simply will not be quelled despite a succession of seemingly definitive court decisions. In the greatest demonstration of survival, opposition to the teaching of evolution has itself evolved. Attempts to completely eliminate the teaching of evolution from public schools have given way to the recognition that evolution is here to stay, that explicitly religious ideas will never be allowed in public schools, and that the best that can be hoped for is to chip away at the credibility of the theory of evolution.
Dr. Singham deftly answers complex questions: Why is there such intense antagonism to the teaching of evolution in the United States? What have the courts said about the various attempts to oppose it? Sprinkled with interesting tidbits about Charles Darwin and the major players of the evolution vs. creationism debate, readers will find that God vs. Darwin is charming in its embrace of the strong passions aroused from the topic of teaching evolution in schools.
Jim Paces, executive director of curriculum of the Shaker Heights City Schools in Ohio and one of the early reviewers of the book, said the following:
[This] captivating new book draws on his knowledge of both history and science to provide an expert analysis of the ongoing opposition to the teaching of evolution in America's public schools. He offers a clearly written, concise explanation of the evolution-religion controversy which has continued to play out in local school districts across the country. This is an absolute "must read" for school officials and community members alike . . . indeed for anyone interested in a fascinating illustration of who decides what should be taught in our nation's schools.
Barbara Forrest, professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and co-author of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, said:
In recounting the history of creationism through major legal cases, Professor Singham correctly exposes the fear that drives creationists to keep searching for ways to undermine the teaching of evolution despite consistent defeats in the federal courts. He shows convincingly that, while religious objections to evolution persist, such objections are ultimately powerless to stop the advancement of science. This book expands the growing list of excellent books available for anyone who wants to understand the phenomenon of American creationism.
Charles Russo, Professor of Education and Law at the University of Dayton, wrote in the Foreword that the book:
presents a highly readable and comprehensive analysis of this fascinating area. With the perspective of a physicist rather than a lawyer, educator, or social scientist, Mano Singham applies his dispassionate scientific eye in such a way that he presents fresh insights into the ongoing controversy over who should control the content of curricula, scientific or otherwise, in public schools.
At its heart, God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom offers a valuable learning experience for all of those interested in education, religion, science, and the law.
In a way, the readers of this blog shared in this book's creation because its nucleus consisted of a series of posts that I wrote a few years ago.
I hope that those of you who read it find it as least as enjoyable as I did writing it. And, again, please write a review if you can.