Revisiting Summer for the Gods


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview (PDF) of Edward J. Larson's Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion (Basic Books, 1997; reissued with a new afterword, Basic Books, 2006). The excerpt, from chapter 7, presents the first days of the Scopes trial in 1925. A high point was the testimony of Maynard Metcalf, a zoologist at the University of Chicago who was the only scientific expert witness permitted to testify: "'The fact of evolution is a thing that is perfectly and absolutely clear,' the professor began. 'But there are many points — theoretical points as to the methods by which evolution has been brought about — that we are not yet in possession of scientific knowledge to answer. We are in possession of scientific knowledge to answer directly and fully the question: "Has evolution occurred?"'" Summer for the Gods received the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1998; Ronald L. Numbers described it as "quite simply, the best book ever written on the Scopes trial and its place in American history and myth."