THE SCOPES INDICTMENT-Reah County Courthouse, Dayton, Tennessee,
THE SCOPES INDICTMENT-Reah County Courthouse, Dayton, Tennessee, the courtroom where the Scopes evolution case is being tried. (1925) - CPL Archives/Everett Collection
The Scopes Indictment, Reah County Courthouse (1925)
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Debunking the Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ Stereotype

Original at North American Mission Board

Whenever a challenge to the truth of Darwinian evolution arises, the scientific establishment and its allies trot out the Scopes Monkey Trial. It is their position that if the scientific establishment has ratified a science textbook, such as the book from which Scopes taught evolution, the state should not engage in "censoring" the material in that book.

The Scopes Monkey Trial plays such a prominent role in the debate that I purchased a copy of the transcript; a copy of the textbook from which Scopes taught, A Civic Biology; and a copy of the companion lab guide to that textbook. Review of these source materials-very different from the biased picture presented in Inherit the Wind-was a real eye-opener.

In the Scopes trial, there was never any judgment or verdict that Darwinian evolution is true. The prosecution argued and the judge agreed that the Tennessee statute in question barred the teaching of the Darwinian theory even if it were true, so its truth was not an issue in the case. Nor, notably, was the truth of the theory of Darwinian evolution and the supposed evidence for it ever subjected to cross-examination. Scopes' lawyers presented extensive written statements from seven scientists stating that Darwinian evolution is the correct explanation for the diversity of life on earth. The prosecution sought permission to cross-examine the five pro-Darwinian science experts whose statements had been read in open court, but Clarence Darrow and the other Scopes lawyers objected and the court refused to allow it.

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