Friday, May 26, 2006

Break Out the Balloons

Ah, I am reminded that yesterday was the eighty-first anniversary of the indictment of John Scopes for the crime of teaching evolution in a public-school classroom. From the New York Times, May 25, 1925:
Nashville, Tenn., May 25 -- John T. Scopes, young Dayton (Tenn.) high school teacher, tonight stands indicted for having taught the theory of evolution to students attending his science classes in violation of a law passed by the Tennessee Legislature and signed by the Governor on March 21, 1925. The date for this trial has been fixed for July 10 at Dayton. The hearing of the case will bring many notables to the little mountain town, including William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow of Chicago and Dudley Field Malone of New York for the defense.

The indictment, returned by the Grand Jury convened in special session, was returned after evidence by Walter White, Superintendent of the Dayton public schools, and eight high school students had been heard by jurors. The session followed a charge by Judge John T. Raulston, who interpreted the law and included in his presentation for the reading of the first book of Genesis from the King James version of the Bible, in which the story creation is detailed.

The specific charge of the indictment is that on April 24, 1925, John T. Scopes, "did unlawfully and willfully teach in public schools of Rhea County, Tenn., which said schools are supported in part and in whole by the public school funds of the State, certain theory and theories that deny the story of Divine creation of man as taught in the Bible and did teach thereof that man descended from a lower order of animals." The penalty prescribed in the law for such violation is a fine from $100 to $500. Scopes Is Indicted in Tennessee for Teaching Evolution

This famous trial featured an all-star line-up of lawyers, and resulted in a guilty verdict for Mr. Scopes.

It didn't come out in the trial, but Scopes admitted afterwards that he had skipped the evolution lesson in class. It was scheduled, but he said afterwards that he never did teach it. The real problem was that the state prohibited the teaching of evolution but required the use of a textbook, Hunter's Civic Biology, which included a chapter on the subject. So poor Scopes, who didn't really know anything about evolution, was trapped in a bureaucratic catch-22 and ended up paying a hundred dollar fine.

It's almost as if nothing has really changed in eighty one years.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah, nothing's changed. There is still no evidence supporting evolution as a force creating new species.


May 30, 2006 1:54 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I so agree with you and not with the many learned scientists who write about evolution. When the FSM touched this area of the universe with his noodly appendage- we were created. rAmen

May 30, 2006 2:25 PM  

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