Evolution and Creationism

A Documentary and Reference Guide

by Christian C. Young, Mark A. Largent


Provides a one-stop reference for understanding the most important primary documents in the Evolution-Creation debates

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Cover image for Evolution and Creationism

June 2007


Pages 320
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Science/General

As recently seen by the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case, the evolution versus creation debate never goes away. The best way to understand these debates is to read the arguments of the individuals involved. This reference work provides over 40 of the most important documents to help readers understand the debate in the eyes of the people of the time. Each document is from a major participant in the debates — from the predecessors of Darwin to the judges of the influential court cases of the present day. The editors have included an introduction and analysis of each document that places it within historical and scientific context.

Evolution and Creationism: A Documentary and Reference Guide aims to enhance our understanding of the debate by presenting over 40 documents that shed light on the origins, goals, and history of the ongoing debate. The volume examines such topics as Darwin's theory of natural selection, the rise of Fundamentalism and its opposition to evolution, and evolution and its discontents at the beginning of the 21st century. In addition, the work includes an extensive bibliography and reference guide to relevant print and electronic resources.

Series Description

Documentary and Reference Guides

What does the U.S. Constitution really say about the right to bear arms? The controversy surrounding this single issue illustrates how important documents are to understanding history--and how they can be open to interpretation. How can students best understand the impact and nuances of the documents that frame America’s story?

Expertly chosen primary source documents, analytical commentary, and comprehensive study resources present Americans grappling directly with complex social and political issues in ways that have had a deep and lasting impact on contemporary society.

Students often are unaware that hotly contested public debates have deep historical roots. Intended to allow readers to engage with history and discover the development of controversial social and political issues over time, the Documentary and Reference Guides series introduces such issues through carefully chosen primary source documents.

The documents analyzed in these volumes encourage critical thinking, offering fresh perspectives as they sweep away preconceptions and restore immediacy to debates that may have become stale. They encourage students to explore for themselves how important issues came to be framed as they are and to consider how contemporary discussion might advance beyond the assumptions and hardened positions of the past.


  •  Offers primary source documents--well known and less so--that are most important for understanding a given issue, selected and analyzed by subject-area specialists
  •  Presents document headnotes, text, and analysis in a consistent manner, making the book easy for readers to navigate
  •  Steers students and general readers to the most useful and reliable sources for further information, whether print, electronic, multimedia, or institutional resources


  •  50-100 primary source documents, topically and chronologically organized, including excerpts from legislation, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, manifestos, broadcast statements, controversial writings such as Thomas Paine's pamphlets and excerpts from the Federalist Papers, and personal writings, such as letters
  •  15-25 photographs
  •  Accessible analysis sections and lively sidebars illuminating documents that are crucial to the subject, but relatively legalistic or technical
  •  A Reader's Guide to the Documents and Sidebars, organized by subject, to enable readers to pursue particular lines of inquiry through more than one chapter
  •  A comprehensive, annotated, general resources section supporting student research needs


"Before the 19th century, the idea that a living species could evolve into a new species was inconceivable. In the early 1800s, examination of the fossil record and natural observations, such as the progression of form seen in both plants and animals, led a few natural scientists to the controversial view that living organisms had changed over time. Through excerpts from influential documents, Young and Largent provide the history of the evolution debate, from the pre-Darwinian era, through the publication of Darwin's works, and up to the current debate over the teaching of intelligent design creationism in public schools. Each chapter includes an overview of the debate in the era covered. A brief analysis accompanies each primary source. Keeping this volume to less than 300 pages, the editors successfully selected concise excerpts that reflect the arguments of each era. This volume is most appropriate for libraries supporting courses/programs in science policy and the history of science. Recommended. Lower-/upper-level undergraduates and graduate students."—Choice

"This unique examination of a diverse debate will help readers in high school, public, and academic libraries better understand arguments on both sides of the issue."—Lawrence Looks at Books

"The authors' insights provide an informative context in which one can appreciate the primary sources that are presented within each chapter. The writing style is clear and accessible, leaving the reader with an informed sense of the controversy (and, in some cases, the absence of controversy) that has existed over the past two centuries."—SB&F

"This title includes more than 40 key primary-source documents from the last two centuries pertaining to the evolution vs. creation debate. The sourced documents are arranged in chronological chapters, and examine topics ranging from beliefs about evolution before Darwin's ^IOn the Origin of Species ^R to intelligent design and current school-board debates about its inclusion in the curriculum. Chapters begin with an overview of the major events and issues concerning the primary resources, placing them in historical context. In addition, brief introductions to the individual readings illuminate the authors' claims. Each chapter ends with a glossary....The writing is clear, and, unlike many other resources on this topic, the editors deftly present both sides of the discussion. For this reason, as well as for the inclusion of primary-source materials, this title will be a useful addition."—School Library Journal

"The authors have assembled an impressive collection of 45 articles and excerpts from larger works written over the past 200 years, providing a one-stop resource of historical information on the theory of evolution and the challenges from proponents of creationism and intelligent design. Its strength is that the articles and excerpts are not summaries or paraphrases; they go to the heart of the original works, using the actual words of the scientists, philosophers, and others who wrote them....This volume is a handy reference guide for teachers and students seeking historical information on evolution and the challenges of creationist viewpoints....It would make a valuable addition to the library of any high school or college biology instructor."—NSTA Recommends

"Beginning with an early theory of evolution by Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus, and ending with the majority opinion in the court case on including Intelligent Design in the teaching of science in the Dover, PA, public schools in 2005, the authors have collected excerpts from primary sources on the evolution/ creationism controversy. Neatly arranged and well chosen."—School Library Journal

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