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The modern world is the child of doubt and inquiry as the ancient world was the child of fear and faith p 72 This statement was uttered by Clarence Darrow the counsel for the defense of John Scopes during the monkey trial that rather questionably put Dayton TN on the worlds map in 1925 Similar words could have been uttered in many other occasions during human history including in 1996 when the Tennessee legislature tried once more to gag educators and evolutionary biologists throughout the state Historian and law professor Edward Larsons book on one of the many trials of the century is therefore much more than a very lively and informative piece of historical reconstruction and criticism It is as relevant to present controversies as it would have been in the 20s The trouble with the Scopes trial is that everybody thinks they know what happened but they usually dont Our image of the epic battle between Darrow and William Jennings Bryan has been shaped much more by its dramatization in Inherit the Wind than by what actually happened in Dayton during the period that Darrow referred to as a Summer for the Gods p 177 And perhaps understandably so The depictions of the key characters by Spencer Tracy Gene Kelly Frederich March and Tony Randall are captivating and unforgettable In dramatizing such epic events however not only does the story become more inaccurate but it acquires all the flavor of a myth And mythology is only the shadow of truth In some sense the modern perception of the Scopes trial is akin to our understanding of the other famous debate on evolution the encounter between Thomas Huxley and Bishop Wilbeforce in 1860 - immediately after the publication of Darwins Origin Evolutionists cling to the myth that Huxley smashed Wilbeforce in Oxford and that truth prevailed over bigotry Caudill 1997 just as Darrow humiliated Bryan thereby giving evolution a long-lasting victory that
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