Slow evolution – The Hindu: Mobile Edition

by Gilbert Keith

From the letter:

" We replay many fights in India, but there has been one honourable exception. In biology class, alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution, we don’t teach students that the universe is supported on a giant tortoise, or on the little finger of the infinitely patient Bhoodevi. That smidgeon of our scientific temper has remained robust.

On the other hand, in a country that firmly separated church from state in its own Constitution centuries ago, teachers in one school district were obliged, as recently as 2004, to present a form of creationism alongside the theory of evolution.


That’s when a small volume on my shelf, cheaply re-bound in an oily red, its pages scalloped by tiny termite bites, looked fresh to me again. In Inherit The Wind, an American play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, a young science teacher stands trial for having taught the theory of evolution to his students. He lives in a conservative, vaguely Southern town, presided over by a dogmatic minister. A famed lawyer has come into town to prosecute the teacher. The defence attorney is younger but equally capable, and the two fight over the most fundamental human right, the right to think for oneself.

The play is dry and spare. There are brief displays of sentiment, but mostly readers must pay attention to delicate tone and argument. It is based on an actual trial, commonly known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, which was deliberately set in motion in the 1920s by the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge a state law that prohibited the teaching of evolution in schools. […] Like Arthur Miller, who used the 17th Century Salem witch trials to expose political witch hunting in the 1950s, Lawrence and Lee recalled the argument over evolution to comment on their own times."