Individual Liberty Versus Majoritarian Democracy in Edward Larson’s Summer For the Gods The Scopes trial, writes Edward Larson, to most Americans embodies “the timeless debate over science and religion.” (265) Written by historians, judges, and playwrights, the history of the Scopes trial has caused Americans to perceive “the relationship between science and religion in . . . simple terms: either Darwin or the Bible was true.” (265) The road to the trial began when Tennessee passed the Butler Act in 1925 banning the teaching of evolution in secondary schools. It was only a matter of time before a young biology teacher, John T. Scopes, prompted by the ACLU tested the law.
Creationism is the teaching that God has created everything. It use to be illegal to teach evolution in public high schools. But in 1925, a man by the name John Scopes, a high school biology teacher, decided to teach the theory Evolution. It happened in the state of Tennessee. He violated the law that made it illegal of the teaching of Evolution.
John Scopes, a substitute biology teacher was arrested and charged with violating the Butler Act, a Tennessee law which prohibited teachers from teaching the Darwin Theory of Evolution in a science-related course. The American Civil Liberties Union created a plan to find a teacher willing to teach evolution in order to test the Butler Act, which forbade the essence that anyone teaching any theory that shunned the Biblical story of creationism. Scopes agreed to be arrested and have the case be taken to court. However, Scopes had simply reviewed the textbook chapter on evolution. The traditionalists would see this as a threat to their interests and the issue hit the country stronger than a tornado.
Evolution: Science and Religion In 1895 Charles Darwin published a book describing his theory of evolution, and his theory of the natural selection process. This theory caused much uproar in the religious community because Darwin’s theory went against the story of creation portrayed in the Holy Bible. His theory claimed that all life currently in place had evolved and adapted from a single organism in the beginning. Over time and by process of natural selection only the dominant species were left over while the other, less dominant species, went extinct. His theory, backed by scientific analysis, had dismissed the idea of a single deity creating all life on Earth.
As Southerners came back with defensive literature or protests, the North would comment back. The novel created a constant protest between the North and South which was a factor towards the sectional strife. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was a catalyst for the Civil War due to its depiction of slavery as harsh and brutal. She uses Tom, St. Clare and Legree to
They saw the institution of slavery as contradictory to the Bible and civilized society. Colonel Chamberlain mentioned that he was fighting for the “dignity of man” (pg. 27). The South was feeling pressure from anti-slavery and abolitionist groups in the North. The South felt that the North was trying to destroy the southern way of life.
Basically they wanted evolution out and creationism in. What followed was yet another major trial on the basis of creationism vs. evolution. The trial that followed the resurgence of Christian Right was the Edwards vs. Aguillard case, which happened in 1987. This trial happened because of a law that the Louisiana legislator passed in 1981. The law mentioned was called the Creationism Act; this act stated that it is illegal to teach evolution by itself unless it is accompanied by the teachings of creationism.
Evolution in the School System The debate over the teaching of evolution in schools has been an ongoing issue. It first came to the public’s attention in 1925 during the legendary trial Scopes v. State of Tennessee., also known as the Scope’s Monkey Trial. During that time, a young science teacher from Tennessee was on trial for teaching evolution in his classroom despite the state’s constitution stating that only creationism be taught. After much debate and deliberation, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of John Scopes, giving teachers throughout the state the freedom to openly teach evolution to their classroom (Farris 163). Much legislation has been passed since that trial, to either ban evolution, or further its cause.
Scopes Trial In March 1925, Tennessee passed the nations first law that made it a crime to teach evolution. The state legislature passed a law forbidding public schools to teach the theory that humans had evolved from lower forms of life rather than from Adam and Eve. Immediately the American Civil Liberties Union promised to defend any teacher who challenged the law. John T. Scopes a biology teacher in Dayton, was arrested for violating the law; he had volunteered to serve in a test case. In his biology class, Scopes read this passage from Civic Biology, "We have now learned that animal forms may be arranged so as to begin with one- celled form and culminate with a group which includes man himself.
Dayton resident, George Rappleyea, saw an ACLU advertisement in a Chattanooga newspaper and persuaded his friend John Scopes to accept the offer. The only catch was that Scopes was not a science teacher and had never actually taught evolution. Scopes was a math teacher and football coach who had filled in for the sick biology teacher for two weeks at the end of the school year. With Scopes' permission, Rappleyea immediately notified the ACLU that Professor J.T. Scopes, teacher of science Rhea County High School, will be arrested and charged with teaching evolution (Menton, On-line).