THE CREATION CONTROVERSY: Science or Scripture in the Schools by Dorothy Nelkin

THE CREATION CONTROVERSY: Science or Scripture in the Schools

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A first-rate overview of recent battles in the ongoing war between evolutionists and fundamentalists. Nelkin is a sociologist of science (Cornell) and, though she doesn't advertise the fact, she was one of the ACLU's battery of expert witnesses who went to Little Rock last December to help shoot down the Arkansas law mandating the teaching of ""Creation-Science"" in public schools. So her own position is not in doubt. Still, while she's obviously appalled by the spread of biology-textbook censorship, the truckling of publishers to ideological vigilantes (like the notorious Mr. and Mrs. Mel Gabler of Longview, Texas), the destruction of the NSF curriculum program, etc., she nonetheless manages to write a balanced, dispassionate, richly factual report with a clear philosophical sense of what the furor is all about. Nelkin first puts creationism in its historical context, showing how, despite the scorn heaped on them ever since the Scopes trial, biblical literalists are in many ways not a weak and laughable minority. For years after the Dayton debacle, they and their sympathizers succeeded in keeping evolution out of the classroom. And now, of course, led by a handful of slick, born-again ""scientists"" (most are actually engineers, physicists, and other non-biologists), they are once again challenging the liberal establishment. Nelkin carefully documents the various disputes (especially over the NSF-prepared textbook, Man: A Course of Study); the activities of the small but well-funded creationist think tanks, such as the Institute for Creation Research; and creationism's general poor performance in court. Most valuably, perhaps, she reflects on the increasingly hostile public perception of science (partly fueled by scientists' forgetfulness of the differences between their own hierarchical, meritocratic world and the ""pluralistic processes"" of the country as a whole) and on the possibility that science and religion really are deadly enemies. A useful and important book--which also complements Philip Kitcher's Abusing Science (p. 845).

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1982
ISBN: 0595001947
Publisher: Norton