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The History Of The Scopes Monkey Trial

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In the summer of 1925, the quaint little town of Dayton, Tennessee would become the stage for the event that would soon become known as the “trial of the century” (Moran 2). What began as a test case to challenge the recently passed Butler Bill by the Tennessean legislature would quickly become about so much more than anyone would have imagined, especially high school biology teacher John Thomas Scopes. Religion versus science, Bryan versus Darrow, modernism versus fundamentalism, the Jazz Age, culture, urbanism, regionalism; all of the conflicts and issues present during this time would each have a major impact on The Scopes “Monkey” Trial.
Charles Darwin, the Father of Evolution, was a British scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution, transforming the thinking of the entire world about the living things around us (Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)). After working on his theory for nearly 20 years, he published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859. As soon as the book was released, the controversy began with each sides gaining followers until the climax on July 10, 1925. The idea that animals could “evolve” and change into new species, including humans, was one that challenged not only how people thought about the natural world, but challenged the story of the creation from the Bible itself. Even though Darwin himself never said that humans “evolved” from apes, everyone took it as a logical extension of his new theory. It went against the idea of argument for design that had unified theology and science for decades (Moran 5). This new threat to Christianity and the social culture of the time was one that would transform state laws on their educational curriculum.
In January of 1925, a...

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... times and the changing of social norms. Clarence Darrow and those on the defense were fighting for more freedom. The believed that the Butler Laws were imposing religious matters on them when they did not want it. They wanted to be able to have science and religion work together in a way that one does not out rule the other; that they are coequal and cover different questions. No matter which way you spin the results from this trial, the only true winners were the monkeys.
Citation Page
“Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882).” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/histori_figures/darwin_charles.shtml. “First Amendment.” Lll / Legal Information Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment. Moran, Jeffrey P.. The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents. New York: Palgrave, 2002. Print.
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