Author and historian to discuss 1925 Scopes 'Monkey Trial,' evolution vs. creationism

Author and historian to discuss 1925 Scopes ‘Monkey Trial,’ evolution vs. creationism

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Edward Larson is the next speaker in the University of St. Thomas Alumni Association’s First Friday Luncheon Series.

The luncheon begins at noon Friday, Nov. 4, in the Schulze Grand Atrium at the university’s School of Law.

Larson, who is the Russell Professor of History and Talmadge Professor of Law at the University of Georgia, will speak about the 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial,” which pitted celebrated lawyers lawyers William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow (the latter representing teacher John Scopes) in an American court case that tested a Tennessee law that forbade teaching in the  state’s public schools of “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”

The speaker, whose visit to St. Thomas is co-sponsored by the university’s School of Law, will discuss the Scopes case’s ramifications today, particularly in light of current debates between scientists who espouse evolution and those who foster theories of “intelligent design” to explain human origins.

Larson received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in history for his 1997 book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. Before accepting a teaching position at Georgia in 1987, he served as associate counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor (1983-89) and as an attorney with a Seattle law firm (1979-83).

The author or co-author of nine books and more than 80 published articles, Larson writes about issues of science, medicine and law from a historical perspective. His other books include Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (2004); Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science in the Galapagos Islands (2001); Sex, Race, and Science: Eugenics in the Deep South (1995); and Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution (1985). His most recent book is The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison (2005).

An Ohio native, Larson earned a B.A. from Williams College, a law degree from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

On first Fridays of each month during the academic year, the St. Thomas Alumni Association's First Friday Luncheon Series offers lunch and a speaker of current interest. St. Thomas alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends, along with the general public, are invited. Cost of each luncheon and presentation is $25. A limited number of $10 student tickets are available at the St. Thomas Box Office.

Reservations for the Nov. 4 luncheon are due Friday, Oct. 28. Early reservations are recommended as these events fill quickly. For nonstudent reservations and further information, call the St. Thomas Alumni Association, (651) 962-6430, or register online via the association’s Web site.