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Sep 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.

My publishers say that the book can be obtained through the usual outlets. You can order it from the publishers Rowman & Littlefield, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and also through your local bookstores.

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.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    William Claspy

    Hi Mano-
    Someone else has a Darwin book coming out- none other than Kirk Cameron. Thought you’d be interested in knowing about this, if you don’t already:
    http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/09/24/kirk_cameron/

  2. 2
    Mano

    Hi Bill,

    Yes, I was aware of this and will have a post on this tomorrow.

  3. 3
    Azulao

    Congratulations, Mano. If you were at my university, we would give you a little award at the end of the year for publishing a book!

  4. 4
    John Ervine

    I’ve just ordered your book and look forward to reading it. I will post a comment about it as soon as I’ve finished it.

    Cheers.

  5. 5
    Andrew Cort, author of 'Love, Wisdom, and God '

    Your book sounds excellent, I’m about to order it (and will likely review it for Amazon — I do that with some regularity). I also write about religion and American culture, and am, in fact, a High School teacher (math, science). Two points I consider important (my own writings are about the first of these): (1) There is meaning in religion and scripture that has nothing to do with history, explanations of evolution and natural phenomena, etc. In fact, to use religion as a substitute for scientific thinking is naive and rather nonsensical. But what is missing from contemporary discussions about religion is that the teachings are symbolic and psychological, and have to do with the growth of the soul – not the events in material life. (2) As a high school teacher, I cringe at the thought of what American public schools would do to religion, which is in a big enough mess already, if we were told to teach it in the classroom. Better left to churches, synagogues, and mosques. The only reason vibrancy survives in American religion is precisely because of the separation of church and state.

  6. 6
    Mano

    Thanks Andrew.

    I look forward to reading your review!

  7. 7
    dui lawyer akron

    That is one interesting book. Is it available outside the US?
    I think religion and science are two things that are always a topic on classroom debates. I hope that this book will shed light to a lot
    of questions in our minds. Great book Mano I hope I can get hold of this book soon.

  8. 8
    Mike

    Mano,
    I love your site. I’m a DUI Lawyer in Sonoma CountyCalifornia who has spent many years with this thought. How do you truly separate (or bring together) a unity of science and faith? My wife is a teacher and is listening to “lies my teacher told me” that is astonishing. Not only from a religion in the classroom perspective, but a white male dominated perspective. I’m learning that history is in the eye of the publisher. Maybe we should get away from MONEY?

  9. 9
    Anne Ahira

    Dear Mano, how to get your book outside US? ~ Anne Ahira

  10. 10
    Mano

    Anne,

    I think the easiest way is to get your local bookstore to order it for you.

  11. 11
    C. C. MORRISON

    Is there room for the prescence of God in science; or does a belief in Man’s ability to discover scientific facts and to develop scientific theories exclude the possibility of there being a God who governs the universe ?

  12. 12
    Mano

    C. C.

    Science can never exclude the possibility of anything, whether it be god or unicorns or flying elephants. What science has done is make the god hypothesis unnecessary and undesirable. Unnecessary because one does not really need it for anything, undesirable because assuming god exists creates all manner of theological problems.

  13. 13
    A Wikileaks Supporter

    This whole Wikileaks fiasco is pretty crazy. You should check out http://voteonwikileaks.com. It’s a recently launched website that seems to be going viral. They got something like 50,000 visitors in the first 24 hours of launch. It’s sort of like a crowdsourced collection of arguments against and for Wikileaks. As a blog owner, you’d probably find some of the opinions there a good read.

  14. 14
    zenred

    There is meaning in religion and scripture that has nothing to do with history, explanations of evolution and natural phenomena, etc. In fact, to use religion as a substitute for scientific thinking is naive and rather nonsensical

  15. 15
    Thom

    Zenred, I agree that religion as a substitute is naive and non-sensical. In fact I would argue that many people who call themselves “religious” fail to think critically, therefore their ability to ask better questions or reverse engineer ( ie. humans sharing the same earbone as fish ) ideas leave them with little to work with. Just emotion.

  16. 16
    Garry Novak

    In response to the post of Andrew Cort on August 12th: I am an attorney, my practice does not focus within the educational system, however I do have a great personal interest in where it is today and where it’s headed. I’ve struggled for some time with the issue of religion being taught in public schools, or not, and the continual controversy associated with it, from a legal and moral standpoint. I very much appreciate your view, as it has cleared up some issues for me. I have to agree with you, better left to the church and other religious entities for lack of a better word(s). I also personally believe this subject should start in the home, with the parents. I do a good bit of reading about religion and spirituality, and I know that science and religion are coming closer together regarding ideas of what God may or may not be, but public school is not the proper venue for this. Just my opinion and thank you again.

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