The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA
August 2007, Jossey-Bass
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.
Chapter 1: The Takeover.
Chapter 2: The Train to Dover.
Chapter 3: The Theory Is Not a Fact.
Chapter 4: Assembling Goliath.
Chapter 5: Thomas More and ID Lite.
Chapter 6: ID Heavy and the Wedge.
Chapter 7: Down by Law.
Chapter 8: Search and Replace.
Chapter 9: The Varieties of Materialistic Experience.
Chapter 10: The Flagellar Fandango.
Chapter 11: Liars for Christ.
Chapter 12: The Unraveling.
Chapter 13: The Fortieth Day.
Chapter 14: The People’s Court and the Gospel According to John Jones.
Chapter 15: Afterword.
About the Author.
"concise and readable." (Nature, 19th July 2007)"A lively, lucid account of a fascinating trial."
—Margaret Talbot, staff writer, the New Yorker
"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
"The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is a well-told tale of the clash of two cultures—scientific evolution and intelligent design creationism—in a Federal court of law. Gordy Slack is a gifted storyteller. If the conversation between science and religion is of interest to you, get this book. The Battle is a pleasure to read."
—Francisco J. Ayala, university professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine