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.Read More ›
An intimidatingly learned colleague has written to a few friends to deplore the latest bulletin on Senator John McCain, who is of course running for president. The news is that McCain has agreed to speak at a luncheon hosted by the Discovery Institute in Seattle. What offends my friend is that the think tank in question supports the concept of Read More ›
In the 1925 Scopes Trial, a young science teacher by the name of John T. Scopes was prosecuted for teaching evolution in a public school — an act prohibited by a Tennessee statute. Although the trial court ruled against Scopes, the judgment was less important than its wider impact on culture. The historian George Marsden points out that “it was Read More ›
Eighty years ago this month, high school teacher John Scopes was convicted in a stifling Dayton, Tenn., courtroom of teaching students about Darwin’s theory of evolution contrary to state law. Made famous by the play and film Inherit the Wind, the Scopes trial has become an icon in the continuing battle for free speech and scientific inquiry. Unfortunately, it’s an Read More ›
It’s been an unusual week in the academy. The academic freedom that so incensed Bill Buckley as a student at Yale decades ago is now acting to protect a conservative scholar under fire. Baylor’s J.M. Dawson Institute for Church-State Studies hired Francis Beckwith as its Associate Director last summer. Although previously known as a philosopher who had developed powerful critiques Read More ›
Sunday, February 17 at 9:00 PBS viewers will be treated to an historical account of the famous Scopes Trial called Monkey Trial. According to the advance billing, “Monkey Trial explores the dramatic moment when a new fault line opened in society as scientific discoveries began to challenge the literal truth of the Bible. Often humorous and at times frightening, the Read More ›