Michael Lienesch (Fellow, 1998–99)
November 1, 2011
In July of 1925, the Tennessee jury in the Scopes “monkey” trial delivered its verdict, finding high school science teacher John T. Scopes guilty of teaching evolution. In a larger sense, however, the jury is still out. While we await the latest verdict, we can explore some questions that place the famous trial in the context of its times and ours. Why did so many Americans object to a theory so strongly supported by the scientific community? Why did so many see evolution as a threat to Bible-based religion? How were issues of race, class, gender, and region involved in the debates over the teaching of evolution? How and why do those debates continue to reverberate? What is their status today? And what do they tell us about the complex character of modern America?
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