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Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion

de Edward J. Larson

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Reissued with a new preface: the Pulitzer Prize-winning book that is ?quite simply the best book ever written on the Scopes Trial and its place in American history and myth."
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Es mostren 1-5 de 18 (següent | mostra-les totes)
This book won the Pulitzer in 1998, for history, and covers the Scopes trial. I read it for more background about the conflict between Religion and Science in the US, it seems very relevant now. It's a well written and researched book, I learned a lot. I hadn't realized how much of the Scopes trial was about show, and bringing attention and business to Dayton, Tennessee. I was also interested to realize how much of the fight against teaching evolution focused on high school, and high school text books.

Also interesting, and somewhat frightening to learn, that the percentage of people in the US who believe literally in the bible creation story has not changed a lot in the years since the Scopes trial. In 2019, a Gallup poll found that 40% of the US believed in Creationism., ( )
  banjo123 | Dec 30, 2020 |
In Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, Edward J. Larson writes, “During the first quarter of the twentieth century, scientists in western Europe and the United States accumulated an increasingly persuasive body of evidence supporting a Darwinian view of human origins, and the American people began to take notice. These scientific developments helped set the stage in the early 1920s for a massive crusade by fundamentalists against teaching evolution in public schools, which culminated in the 1925 trial of John Scopes” (pg. 14). Of the ACLU involvement, Larson writes, “Already the three main tactics for attacking the antievolution measure had emerged: the defense of individual freedom, an appeal to scientific authority, and a mocking ridicule of fundamentalists and biblical literalism; later, they became the three prongs of the Scopes defense” (pg. 53).
Discussing the Tennessee law and the anticipated media circus, Larson writes, “Those proud of their state’s antievolution statute feared that the upcoming trial would discredit it and Tennessee; those embarrassed by it feared that the upcoming trial would heap further ridicule on their state” (pg. 94). Further, “In a stroke, the ACLU lost control of what it initially conceived as a narrow constitutional test of the statute. With Bryan on hand, evolution would be on trial at Dayton, and pleas for individual liberty would run headlong into calls for majority rule” (pg. 100). Discussing race, Larson writes, “Relatively little comment about the trial survives from African Americans…In any event, the outcome would not affect African Americans, because Tennessee public schools enforced strict racial segregation and offered little to black students beyond elementary instruction” (pg. 122). In terms of legal strategy, Larson writes, “The prosecution maintained that the statute outlawed any teaching about human evolution regardless of what evolution meant of whether it conflicted with the Bible. This position rendered evidence on those questions irrelevant. The defense countered that the law only barred instruction in evolution that denied the biblical account of creation, and therefore such evidence was irrelevant. Indeed, it constituted the defense’s entire case” (pg. 172).
Of the fallout, Larson writes, “In a clever maneuver, the Tennessee Supreme Court managed to end the embarrassing case without overturning the locally popular law. The antievolution statute only applied to public employees acting in their official capacity, and therefore did not infringe on individual liberty, the court ruled” (pg. 220). He continues, “Partly as a result of the Scopes trial, the law came to symbolize different things to different people; it became a symbol of pride and regional identity for some Southerners” (pg. 221). According to Larson, “At the same time, the tendency of northern evolutionists to blame Southerners for the Scopes trial may have weakened antievolutionism in the North” (pg. 222). Finally, “Several of the defense expert witnesses wrote semipopular books or articles expanding on their trial affidavits. Such accounts leave the distinct impression that Scopes won the case in all but the verdict, which ‘hillbilly’ jurors withheld” (pg. 222). In terms of modern curriculum that offer evolutionary theory alongside intelligent design, Larson writes, “Defense counsel at Dayton did not endorse the idea of teaching both evolution and creationism in science courses. Darrow consistently debunked fundamentalist beliefs and never supported their inclusion in the curriculum. Hays and the ACLU argued for academic freedom to teach Darwinism but most likely did not consider the possibility that some teachers might want to cover creationism” (pg. 257). ( )
  DarthDeverell | Dec 24, 2017 |
A look at the Scopes trial of 1925, the history of and the outcome. Interestingly enough it is battle that did not end in 1925 and is still with us today. It was a trial that captured the nation and the world. ( )
  foof2you | Jun 5, 2017 |
The author revisits the Scopes trial in an attempt to place it within the modern clash between science and religion. He does a good job of detailing the facts of the trial, the personalities involved, and the legend making that changed the way the trial was perceived over a thirty year period. The writing is interesting, and moves well; the author knows how to tell a story. The main problem I have is that the author spends way too much time protesting that religion and science are compatible, using the same old argument that some scientists are religious. He evidently approves of the attempts to demonstrate at the trial that evolution does not violate Scripture, but also seems to realize that this could not work. He is unable to resist sniping at Darrow, calling him mean spirited, while exposing an obvious soft spot for Bryan, and trying to rescue him from the dustbin of history. A noble effort, but flawed by the constant accomodationism that his own words often demonstrate to be unworkable, a fact of which he seems to be unaware. Worth reading, and a valuable addition to anybody's history of evolution library. ( )
  Devil_llama | Oct 8, 2016 |
Well written, extensively researched, and with a new Afterword that shows the continued relevance of the Scopes trial today. ( )
  LynnB | Jul 16, 2014 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 18 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Larson... gracefully documents the history of Darwinism, the theory of evolution and the fits and starts through which evolution became pitted against the Bible and fundamentalist religion. He is particularly adept at explaining the role of Bryan, who during the trial, in the words of H. L. Mencken, was ''converted into a great sacerdotal figure, half man and half archangel -- in brief, a sort of fundamentalist pope.'' Bryan died in the days immediately following the trial, making him a sort of fundamentalist saint. Bryan's and Darrow's ghosts still haunt us, and the Scopes trial still holds resonance, as we continue to litigate the role of religion in public life and the power of the state to prescribe what shall be taught in public schools.
afegit per Lemeritus | editaNew York Times, Rodney A. Smolla (Web de pagament) (Oct 5, 1997)
 
The reality was more complex.... Bryan was both an economic progressive and Christian anti-evolutionist. The American Civil Liberties Union actively campaigned for a plaintiff in a test case, and John Scopes saw the case as a lark. Defense lawyer Clarence Darrow cared less about the ACLU agenda--free speech and academic freedom--than about jousting over the Bible and besting Bryan in court. Though Scopes was found guilty, the judge imposed a minimum fine and the Tennessee Supreme Court managed to overturn the conviction without invalidating the law. Larson, who teaches history and law at the University of Georgia, has ably put the trial--and its antecedents and aftermath--in appropriate context.
afegit per Lemeritus | editaPublisher's Weekly (Jun 2, 1997)
 
A recapitulation of the celebrated 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Dayton, Tenn.—but one that goes far beyond the courtroom in its analysis.... Larson neatly examines other issues that bore on the Scopes case: academic freedom, the right of states and local bodies to control the content of education, the growth of evolutionary theory in the wake of hominid fossil discoveries of the period. He also probes the mythmaking tendencies of the American media, which created what biologist Stephen Jay Gould calls a "realm of nostalgic Americana" evoked in the course of more recent creationist controversies. A learned and absorbing book, especially in its account of the reverberations of the Scopes trial in recent American history.
afegit per Lemeritus | editaKirkus Reviews (May 15, 1997)
 
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In memory of my father, Rex Larson, a Darrowlike criminal lawyer and William H. Ellis, Jr., a Bryanesque attorney-politician
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Preface -- The Scopes Trial has dogged me for more than a decade, ever since I wrote my first book on the American controversy over creation and evolution.
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Reissued with a new preface: the Pulitzer Prize-winning book that is ?quite simply the best book ever written on the Scopes Trial and its place in American history and myth."

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