Adam Laats (SUNY Binghamton), “Evolving from Humble Roots”
Evolving from Humble Roots
Adam Laats, Binghamton University (SUNY)
Too often, tactics in our continuing culture wars can be brutal and unforgiving. When it comes to the touchy subjects of creationism and evolution, pundits shoot first and ask questions later. Creationists call evolution supporters devilish and deluded, heirs of Hitler as much as Darwin. Evolution supporters call creationists ignorant, predatory child abusers.
Historian Adam Laats offers another approach. In this book project, Laats examines American creationism as it really is, not the cartoonish caricature so often in the headlines. In his previous work, including books such as Fundamentalist U: Keeping the Faith in American Higher Education (Oxford University Press, forthcoming); The Other School Reformers: Conservative Activism in American Education (Harvard University Press, 2015); and Teaching Evolution in a Creation Nation (with co-author Harvey Siegel, University of Chicago Press, 2016); Laats has explored the history of creationism in American culture and education. In this book, Laats draws from a wider variety of academic fields—including political science, anthropology, and cognitive psychology—to offer a nuanced view of American creationism beyond culture-war distortions.
True, creationist radicals are often guilty of self-serving delusion. From Kentucky’s Creation Museum to the Texas school board to the Trump White House, creationists double down on their outlandish claims about culture, religion, and science. But evolution supporters tend to condemn without really understanding. In order to make any progress in our creation/evolution battles, both sides need to begin with a dose of intellectual humility, a hard look in the mirror to acknowledge how little we actually know about each other.