The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA

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9780470379318: The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA

A compelling eyewitness account of the recent courtroom drama in Dover, Pennsylvania that put evolution on trial.

Journalist Gordy Slack offers a riveting, personal, and often amusing first-hand account that details six weeks of some of the most widely ranging, fascinating, and just plain surreal testimony in U.S. legal history—a battle between hard science and religious conservatives wishing to promote a new version of creationism in schools.

During the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Areas School Board trial,  the members of the local school board defended their decision to require teachers to present intelligent design  alongside evolution as an explanation for the origins and diversity of life on earth. The trial revealed much more than a disagreement about how to approach science education. It showed two essentially different and conflicting views of the world and the lengths some people will go to promote their own. The ruling by George W. Bush-appointed Judge John Jones III was unexpected in its stridency: Not only did he conclude that intelligent design was religion and not science and therefore had no place in a science classroom, he scolded the school board for wasting public time and money.

A sophisticated examination of the deep cultural, religious, and political tensions that continue to divide America, The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is also journalist Gordy Slack’s personal and engaging story of the high drama and unforgettable characters on both sides of the courtroom controversy. 
Gordy Slack (Oakland, CA) has been writing about science and evolutionary biology for 15 years. He is a regular commentator on KQED, an affiliate of NPR, and his articles have appeared in Mother Jones, Salon.com, Wired, California Wild, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications.

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From the Back Cover:

The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is a compelling eyewitness account of the recent courtroom drama in Dover, Pennsylvania, that put evolution and intelligent design on trial. Journalist Gordy Slack offers a riveting, personal, and often amusing first-hand account that details six weeks of some of the most widely ranging, fascinating, and just plain surreal testimony in U.S. legal history—a battle between hard science and religious conservatives wishing to promote a new version of creationism in schools.

"Concise and readable."—Nature Magazine

"In a time of despair over social and political decay in the U.S., Gordy Slack's The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is a truly uplifting tale. . . . His writing [is] human and so worthy of a read."—New Scientist Magazine

"The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is magnificent—by far the best depiction I have seen of America's culture war that pits religious concepts of the supernatural against the materialism of science. Slack's non-polemical narrative skillfully reveals the ins and outs of creationism, intelligent design, evolutionary biology, and the nature of modern science in clear and compelling prose. Slack's own story of trying to understand his father's religious position stands as a poignant microcosm of the larger debate—adding a personal touch that helps bring into focus the frustration and sadness that is often present, but usually not acknowledged, as the culture war rages on."
—Niles Eldredge, curator, division of paleontology; curator, Darwin Exhibition, The American Museum of Natural History

"Gordy Slack's beautifully written The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything should be on absolutely everyone's must read list. Although Slack does not conceal his own evolutionary commitments, he is balanced and fair, showing above all that this is a cultural battle and not simply one of science versus religion. The book is a terrific read."
—Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and director of the program in the history and philosophy of science, Florida State University, Tallahassee

From the Inside Flap:

The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything

"For six weeks in 2005, a courtroom in Pennsylvania became a forum for intense debates about the most fundamental matters: science, faith, and what we should teach our children about them. Gordy Slack takes us inside that courtroom, where his personal and intellectual engagement with the subject serves him exceedingly well. He has written a lively, lucid account of a fascinating trial."
—Margaret Talbot, staff writer, "Darwin in the Dock," The New Yorker

The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is a compelling eyewitness account of the recent courtroom drama in Dover, Pennsylvania, that put evolution and intelligent design on trial. Journalist Gordy Slack offers a riveting, personal, and often amusing first-hand account that details six weeks of some of the most widely ranging, fascinating, and just plain surreal testimony in U.S. legal history—a battle between hard science and religious conservatives wishing to promote a new version of creationism in schools.

During the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial, members of the local school board defended their effort to require teachers to present intelligent design alongside evolution as an explanation for the origins and diversity of life on Earth. The trial revealed two essentially different and conflicting views of the world and the lengths to which true believers on each side will go to promote their own. The controversial ruling by George W. Bush-appointed Judge John Jones III was full of surprises and had a profound influence on America's educational landscape.

Gordy Slack's engaging story of high drama and unforgettable characters is a sophisticated examination of the deep cultural, religious, and political faultlines that divide America. But it is also a personal account of how those same divisions cleaved his own family in two.

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