Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction

by Eugenie C. Scott

Second edition now available

"Perhaps someday schools in the United States will catch up to those in other developed countries and treat evolution as a normal scientific subject. Before that happens, though, people need to understand evolution, and also understand the creationism and evolution controversy. Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction is a step toward this goal."
—Niles Eldredge, from the foreword

Paperback, University of California Press, 2009 * ISBN 978-0520261877 * $22.95
Hardcover, Greenwood Press, 2008 * ISBN 978-0313344275 * $49.95

Buy the second edition from Amazon.com in paperback or in hardback.

All royalties benefit NCSE. Download Chapter 1 free!




Eighty years after the Scopes trial, the debate over the teaching of evolution continues to rage. There is no easy resolution—it is a complex topic with profound scientific, religious, educational, and legal implications. How can a student or parent come to grips with this issue? Evolution vs. Creationism provides a badly needed, comprehensive, and balanced introduction to the many facets of the current debate—the scientific evidence for evolution, the legal and educational basis for its teaching, and the various religious points of view—as well as a concise history of the evolution-creationism controversy. A section of primary source documents from all sides of the issue is included.








Reviews of the Second Edition:

Edward J. Larson, The International Society for Science and Religion Library Project:

... an invaluable resource for those seeking to understand the American controversy over creationism and evolution from the perspective of an eloquent and knowledgeable partisan ... offers an insightful overview of the American controversy over teaching evolution along with a representative sampling of short excerpts from both creationists and evolutionists. By reading it, teachers, parents, students and the public can be better prepared to answer creationist claims and defend the teaching of evolution.

Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog:

The original version of this book was excellent, but this updated version is essential ... The discussion of the creationist arguments and how to deal with them is especially important, as it is written from the perspective of a very experienced individual, and in the most useful possible way for a teacher or school administrator.

The revised edition take[s] into account recent adjustments to the Intelligent Design strategy. Also, there are always new challenges, court decisions, and other legally relevant outcomes all across the country, and this new volume covers several things that have happened since the first edition.

Just as important are the resources outlined in the book are updated and expanded. If you are a school administrator, teacher, or parent with a child in a public school you need this book as a basic reference.

Claudia Fetters, National Science Teachers Association:

An excellent summary of a very controversial topic in biology today. This book is a fair, balanced, and comprehensive look at the issue of evolution vs. creationism in this country and is highly recommended for teachers and pre-service biology teachers.

Kendrick Frazier, Skeptical Inquirer:

A welcome second edition with seventy new pages of material, including a new foreword by the judge in the landmark Dover case, of what is probably the best single readable reference source about the longstanding evolution and creationism controversy. Cosmology, astronomy, and geology get a useful chapter here, and there is a new chapter on issues involving the media and public opinion — pertinent since this is in large part a controversy involving public perception and manipulation of opinion.

Lawrence S. Lerner, Forum on Physics and Society:

Evolution vs. Creationism is a superb introductory guide through the tangle, whether the reader wishes simply to get a clear basic picture of what is going on and what one might expect in the future, or plans to dig further into the subject. Author Scott writes with crystal clarity and punctilious fairness. She never gets bogged down in excessive detail and yet never sacrifices accuracy to brevity. She is the long-time Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, the national clearinghouse for teaching good science (and especially evolution). Hence she has, and skillfully conveys, a bird's-eye view of the world of creationism.

John Crothers, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society:

This is the first book that I have read that explained how it could have come about that, in the twentieth century, it was possible for a generation of poorly-educated people to seriously disadvantage their children and grandchildren by intentionally depriving them of access to the best available information.

Reviews of the First Edition:

Judith Shulevitz in The New York Times Book Review:

Scott could be said to be the one really doing God's work as she patiently rebuts people who make most other scientists spit gaskets like short-circuiting robots. Her book is both a straightforward history of the debate and an anthology of essays written by partisans on each side. Its main virtue is to explain the scientific method, which many invoke but few describe vividly. Scott also manages to lay out the astronomical, chemical, geological and biological bases of evolutionary theory in unusually plain English.

Anyone who wants to defend evolution at his next church picnic should arm himself with this book.

Kefyn M. Catley in Science Education (2006, vol. 90, no. 4, pp. 764-766):

Let me say at the outset that this is quite an extraordinary book, and one I predict is destined to become a classic. Eugenie Scott brings to bear her encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the conflict, passion for the subject, and deep understanding of the legal framework tempered by her long involvement as Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education. This work provides a well-balanced synthesis of the complexities of science, religion, jurisprudence, and education as they pertain to understanding the continuing dichotomy between evolution and creationism. Perhaps its greatest strength, however, is that all this information is so expertly brought together under one cover. ... This book provides a great service to the science community. There is much here for readers at all levels, from high school students and their teachers to university students and their professors, and yes, even for creationists. I recommended the book highly as a text or supplemental book for nature of science, science and society, or high school science methods courses.


[N]otable for its coverage of the history of the creationist movement and its presentation of the past and current legal issues surrounding the controversy. With creationists continuing to mount court challenges to the teaching of evolution, the currency of this work is crucial for libraries trying to keep up with developments. ... Many libraries may not own creationist books or journals, so this new title is an excellent way to provide access to that literature while keeping it in a scientific, scholarly context. ... Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates; general readers.

The book was later named a 2005 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice.

David Sepkoski in Journal of the History of Biology (2006, vol. 39, pp. 607-635):

In her textbook Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, Eugenie Scott sets out to provide, in a single, concise volume, an introduction to the basics of evolutionary theory, a summary of creationist critiques and straightforward refutations of those claims, and a survey of primary literature from both camps. Few people are as qualified to address evolution pedagogy as Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, and the result is a tidy, cogent book that will undoubtedly find its way into many classrooms. ... While there is never any doubt about Scott's viewpoints, she wisely allows readers to work through the issues themselves, making for a much less polemical treatment than many of the other efforts here reviewed.

Midwest Book Review:

Evolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. Scott (Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education and former president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists) is an ideal introduction to the concepts of evolution and creationism. Methodical, adhering to the highest standards of academic research, and superbly organized in its presentation, Evolution vs. Creationism is organized into three major sections: Science, Evolution, Religion, and Creationism; A History of the Creationism/Evolution Controversy; and Selections from the Literature. Evolution vs. Creationism is informed and informative reading for both students and non-specialist general readers. Strongly recommended for both school and community library collections, Evolution vs. Creationism is significantly enhanced with ten pages of "References for Further Study" as well as a Name Index and a Subject Index.

Henry M. Morris in the Institute for Creation Research's Back to Genesis:

I believe that she has conscientiously tried to be objective in discussing this inflammatory subject in her book. ... The book is well written and creationists can read it with interest and appreciation, even though its arguments for evolution are—to us, at least—speculative and even defensive.

Nikki L. Rogers in Science Books & Films:

... a multifaceted contribution ... Scott speaks directly to the reader in an energetic, engaging manner ... Scott's textbook provides a veritable feast of factoids, including the evolution song "Amphioxus" (p. 32), that can add depth and interest to classroom lectures. ... Evolution vs. Creationism is an insightful must-have for students and teachers from high school and beyond and a "should-read" for interested laypersons.

The book was given two stars—indicating "highly recommended"—and classified as suitable for Young Adults, College, Teaching Professional, and General Audience.

Thomas Brown in NSTA Recommends:

Evolution vs. Creationism would be an excellent resource for any science teacher, especially those who teach biology or the nature of science. It is written by Eugenie Scott, one of the most noted and eloquent voices for evolution education today, with a foreward by Niles Eldredge. Teachers who engage in this scholarly book will come away with a deep and valuable understanding of the scientific and social implications of the creationist movement. ... The author hopes to provide "one-stop shopping ... a foundation in the ideas that shaped the controversy." The book accomplishes this and more.

Chip Green in E-STREAMS:

The author, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, has done an outstanding job presenting background to the tension between evolution and creationism. In addition to carefully explaining science and evolution to her reader, she has also accomplished a long-needed task of describing the full range of "creationists" such that the reader can see and understand the history, politics, and range of views in this complex cluster of beliefs. ... Highly recommended for any library whose readers range from the general public to teachers or experts in the field of evolution. Understanding the sides in an ever-lasting political battle is crucial, and this book helps that understanding.

John Cole in Voice of Reason (the newsletter of Americans for Religious Liberty):

... a one-stop resource for the newcomer and the veteran alike ... As an introduction to a huge problem facing science and religion, this book is very valuable and should be on the shelf of teachers, clergy, students—and politicians.

Richard K. Stucky in Museums & Social Issues:

... thorough and provocative ... an excellent sourcebook on the fallacies behind intelligent design and creationism's attempt to pose as a science.

John W. Burgeson in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith:

At last—a book that both Henry Morris, of the Institute for Creation Research, and Niles Eldredge, a prominent scientist, can agree upon! Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, is an articulate and engaging author. She has written a book suitable for a wide audience: high school and college students, teachers, and nonspecialized general readers. The book is comprehensive, treating scientific evidences for evolution, religious views, and a history of the so-called "evolution-creation" controversy.

Dennis Cheek in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith:

... This well-conceived and written text provides a comprehensive survey of contemporary evolution and the varied positions within creationism writ large. ... Regardless of one's personal perspective, this book is a valuable contribution to the literature in evolution and creationism. Virtually any reader will find something of interest within its pages. It will surely raise the dander of some and bring delight to others—a quality possessed by many a good book.

Chris Doran in Theology and Science:

Overall, this book is a much-needed addition to the field for three very important reasons. First, the book appropriately surveys all of the pertinent issues in this controversy thus making it an excellent book to use in an undergraduate religion class environment. Second, Scott portrays the creationist position more fairly and adequately than many others writing in this area do. Finally, the book includes a concluding section that gives the reader a valuable list of references to use for further exploration of each topic covered in the controversy.

Francisco J. Ayala in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences:

Several excellent books have been published in recent years about creationism, particularly intelligent design, and the presumed conflict between evolution and religious beliefs. Evolution vs. Creationism is one of the best.

Short Bio

Susan Spath is a former Director of Public Information at NCSE.