From 1981-2005 creationist legal strategy underwent a transformation that belied several foundational conservative attitudes towards postmodernism and epistemological relativism. The upshot of a series of developments in the philosophy and historiography of science, as well as in the United States Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence, this shift constituted a radical break with wide-spread conservative resistance in post-World War Two America to any philosophy that held truth to be somehow sociological or culturally “constructed.” The historical—intellectual and cultural—context within which this change in legal strategy took place is the subject of this thesis. So too, of course, are the conservatives that affected it.
In many ways this is an intellectual history. Ideas here, however, are treated as historical phenomena, not tidy abstractions. My goal in this thesis is to historicize, rather than provide a history, of conservative ideology and identity in modern America. Much, recently, has been written about conservatism in America during the latter-half of the twentieth century. But for reasons I explore in this thesis not enough attention has been paid to its ideational and ideological dynamism. By tracking several ways in which conservatives were less than successful politically, less than coherent ideologically, and, ultimately, less “conservative” than they have previously been portrayed, this thesis attempts a history of an ideology in motion, and an identity in flux, in a fractured post-World War Two American intellectual and cultural environment.