21 Following


Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial & America's Continuing Debate Over Science & Religion - Edward J. Larson If you happened to have read the play Inherit the Wind, and let it create your impression of the Scopes Monkey Trial, you particularly need to read this book. This is the story of how the Scopes Monkey trial REALLY happened. There are key details that the play doesn't even try to tell you.

I'll just mention the two biggest revelations:

-The events leading to the Scopes trial were a farce. The town of Dayton, Tennessee was struggling, and the town leaders, gathering in a downtown drugstore, convinced a substitute teacher named John Scopes to deliberately challenge Tennessee's law against teaching evolution so that the resulting trial would bring Dayton some publicity, boosting its economy.

-The famous part of the trial, Darrow v. Bryan, didn't have to happen. The American Civil Liberties Union wanted to defend Scopes mainly on freedom-of-speech grounds. But once the fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan joined the prosecution, Clarence Darrow--who was militantly anti-religion--immediately wanted to face down Bryan as a stand against Christianity. He came to Dayton and insinuated himself into the defense team and its strategy, despite that some members of the defense were much more interested in promoting civil liberties than in bashing religion. Essentially, Darrow probably would never have participated in the Scopes trial if Bryan hadn't.