Bryan and Scopes

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Gail Jarvis reminds us that the actual Scopes Trial was far more complex — and more interesting — than the Hollywood version. I recently read Ed Larson’s Summer for the Gods, an excellent revisionist account of the Scopes case. Among other interesting tidbits, we learn that William Jennings Bryan’s argument was not primarily about about the truth or falsity of the Genesis account of creation, but about local accountability for schools. Bryan maintained that the Dayton school board was right to fire Scopes, whether or not his teachings were true, because Scopes was teaching doctrine that was plainly opposed by the vast majority of those paying his salary. Today’s religious conservatives — shouting “No Child Left Behind!” — would presumably be on the other side.

2:08 pm on June 30, 2005