Paul K. Conkin explores large, indeed cosmic issues in When All the Gods Trembled. Conkin traces the origins of Western beliefs about the gods and about human origins, beliefs shared by the three great Semitic religions. He proceeds with a searching and original analysis of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, rejecting conventional understandings of Darwin in order to probe the logical credentials of his thesis and its implications for Christian theology. From Darwin he moves to the deep rifts that developed between American orthodox, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians on the one hand and liberals and modernists on the other. These tensions created the enormous public interest in the Scopes trial of 1925, which provides the subject of a revealing chapter. The final two chapters focus on the intellectual debates during and immediately after the famous trial. One involves a dialogue among the most representative and vocal Christian intellectuals in the 1920s - the orthodox E. Gresham Machen, the liberal Harry Emerson Fosdick, and the modernist Shailer Matthews. The last chapter includes brief vignettes of a diverse group of intellectuals who rejected any version of theism, including John Dewey, George Santayana, Harry Elmer Barnes, John Crowe Ransom, Walter Lippmann, and Joseph Wood Krutch.
When All the Gods Trembled