The Scopes Trial: Background information when reading The Explanation for Everything

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The Explanation for Everything

By Lauren Grodstein

The Explanation for Everything

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Beyond the Book:
The Scopes Trial

John ScopesBiology professor Andrew Waite (the protagonist in The Explanation for Everything) had a predecessor in John Scopes, a 24-year-old high school teacher who decided to teach the theory of evolution in his Dayton, Tennessee high school classroom defying a then newly implemented state law banning this practice. The year was 1925, a time when jazz and Hollywood movies were believed to be corrupting influences on America's youth and the last thing the evangelical superiors in Tennessee wanted was a challenge to the word of God.

Taken aback by the Tennessee decision, The American Civil Liberties Union looked for teachers to become "test cases" - to teach the theory of evolution defying the state law. John Scopes was one such teacher. When Scopes was brought to trial, the ACLU backed him in the "trial of the century" which is often referred to as the Monkey Trial (making a mockery of the theory of evolution linking man to ape). Scopes's lawyer, Clarence Darrow, a champion of ...

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