Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution

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9780195036664: Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution

The debate over evolutionary teaching in the public schools remains one of the most emotion-charged controversies in twentieth-century America. This book, ranging from before the Scopes trial of 1925 to the creationism disputes of the 1980s, offers the first comprehensive account of th educational and legal battles erupting from this persistent confrontation.
Analyzing the various teaching and text-book controversies as well as the statutes and court cases spawned by them Edward J. Larson concludes that public science education has never been allowed to deviate too far from public opinion. Thus, strong regional opposition in the 1920s the Darwinism resulted in bans on evolutionary teaching, while the Supreme Ccourt's overturning of those bans in 1968 came only when there seemed to be wider popular acceptance of the theory of evolution. The most recent legal efforts to secure equal time for creationism arose where public opinion appeared to favor such fairness for competing "scientific" ideas. While finding that legislators have responded more readily to public opinion than judges, Larson shows that even the courts have operated withing the boundaries set by public sentiment and have generally refused to rule on the scientific merits of either side's argument.
As Larson observes, the creation-evolution issues continues to resurface because it has so divided public opinion as to prevent any hope of compromise, thus driving both sides to seek legal relief. Yet, as he points, out, that very division has kept either side form accepting an unfavorable legal resolution as final--and so the controversy rages on.

About the Author:

Edward J. Larson is a practicing attorney in Seattle, Washington and a former Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. He holds a law degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Wisconson.

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About the Author:


Edward J. Larson is the Richard B. Russell Professor of History and Professor of Law, University of Georgia.

Review:


"Larson...ably illuminates the legal and constitutional issues...yet he is admirably aware that what transpires in state houses and law courts usually reflects larger social forces."--The New Republic


"The main contribution of the book is that it traces clearly the legal controversies surrounding evolution and creationism in American high schools, but readers will also enjoy a vivid retelling of personal credos, political machinations, pedagogical developments, and other historical circumstances surrounding the vicissitudes of 'public science' in the schools."--Science


"The publication in 1985 of an important study of the persistent controversy over the theory of evolution by Edward J. Larson received scant attention in several major historical journals...Whatever the reasons for this oversight, Larson, fortuneatly, has expanded the original edition...Larson's study is written in clear, crisp prose that makes complex legal issues easily comprehensible to the nonspecialist...Few will be so naive as to believe that the court decisions of the 1980s have laid to rest the creationist-evolutionist debate."--Isis


"The merging of several disciplines in a single scholar proves unusually rewarding to the treatment of creationism in American education. Whatever the outcome of the current cases...the need for a scholarly assessment of antecedents and prospects in this area has never been clearer."--Journal of Law and Religion


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Edward J. Larson
Published by Oxford University Press (1985)
ISBN 10: 0195036662 ISBN 13: 9780195036664
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Book Description Oxford University Press, 1985. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0195036662

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