The Scopes Monkey Trial

Satisfactory Essays
The Scopes Monkey Trial

In a tiny courtroom in the county of Dayton Tennessee, the jury settled into their seats, ready to return the verdict in the most controversial case of the 1920’s, the scopes “monkey” trial. Up to this point, the trial itself had been a media spectacle; the lawyers, the witnesses, even the defendant had become media icons in the commercialism of the twenties. The trial itself was set up to be a media demonstration to challenge the constitutionality of the butler act. This act prohibited the teaching of “any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the bible,” and in particular, the theory of evolution. the American civil liberties union petitioned for a teacher to challenge this statute; john Thomas scopes, the local high school track coach and science teacher accepted the challenge and stood trial for teaching evolution the previous spring. Over the course of the trial Charles Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, the attorneys on the case, debated each other profusely. Eventually Bryan even testified to the truth of the biblical story, even though he was massacred by Darrow upon examination. Despite all that the trial stood for, the most lasting aspect of the trial was that it brought the media into the courtroom, and the courtroom into the daily life of the American citizen.

The most common association with the trial is as an example of the debates that raged during the 1920’s; this case particularly described the battle between the conservative religious movement and the new liberalized ideas of evolution. The case is most often referred to for, and most commonly associated with, the debate between science and religion. The scientific revolution had its roots in the arguments of the trial. “Because of this, scientific thought becomes very prominent and also with this, self consciousness is elaborated upon. With the clear understanding of why mankind is self conscious, commercialism and consumerism start booming like never before!” (Gerstein 14) the monkey trial opened people’s eyes, as well as their pocketbooks; consumerism flourished more so now because people could use reasoning to justify the spending that they did. Every religion in the world preaches some form of love for others and respect for humanity, while science, and especially evolution, advocate the survival of the fittest organism. By developing a scientific outlook on life, people felt less indebted to their contemporaries and instead found themselves concentrating on material possessions.
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