Required Reading: Moran’s American Genesis

From time to time people ask me for a place to start.  For those who don’t want to dedicate their entire lives to understanding the creation/evolution controversies, they ask, what is one smart, short book that offers a useful introduction?

I am very happy to suggest a new book by Jeffrey Moran of the University of Kansas: American Genesis: The Evolution Controversies from Scopes to Creation Science.  In the newest edition of the Reports of the National Center for Science Education, I offer a brief review of this terrific book.

Moran was already the author of two essential books on my shelf, Teaching Sex and The Scopes Trial.  In American Genesis Moran does more than just hash over the history of controversy.  As I write in my NCSE review,

“Moran examines the history of antievolutionism as more than just religion, more than just science. As Moran explains, ideas about evolution offer a unique “mirror, however distorted, of [American] culture itself” (p 24). The most intriguing sections of American Genesis, accordingly, offer readers more than just a clear and compelling brief history of the American antievolution “impulse” (p x). Moran demonstrates the ways that anti-evolutionism has been both a bellwether and an influence on broader trends in American culture. In the first three chapters, Moran’s book approaches antievolutionism as a question not only of religion and science, but also of gender, region, and race.”

In just under 200 pages Moran crafts an argument that connects anti-evolutionism to the bigger pictures of American history and culture.  His book is consistently readable and wonderfully worthwhile for both experts and the general public.

Those interested in creation/evolution will find other items of interest in the most recent Reports of the NCSE.  The editors include a review of David Long’s ethnographic study of creationism among college students and Jason Rosenhouse’s Among the Creationists.

Worth checking out!


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