Tracing the growth of creationism in America as a political movement, this book explains why the particularly American phenomenon of anti-evolution has succeeded as a popular belief. Conceptualizing the history of creationism as a strategic public relations campaign, Edward Caudill examines why this movement has captured the imagination of the American public, from the explosive Scopes trial of 1925 to today's heated battles over public school curricula. Caudill shows how creationists have appealed to cultural values such as individual rights and admiration of the rebel spirit, thus spinning creationism as a viable, even preferable, alternative to evolution.
In particular, Caudill argues that the current anti-evolution campaign follows a template created by Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, the Scopes trial's primary combatants. Their celebrity status and dexterity with the press prefigured the Moral Majority's 1980s media blitz, more recent staunchly creationist politicians such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, and creationists' savvy use of the Internet and museums to publicize their cause. Drawing from trial transcripts, media sources, films, and archival documents, Intelligently Designed highlights the importance of historical myth in popular culture, religion, and politics and situates this nearly century-old debate in American cultural history.