The Scopes Monkey Trial Essay Research Paper

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The Scopes Monkey Trial Essay, Research Paper The Scopes Monkey Trial Frequently, new ideas have required considerable time to gain public approval. For example, six hundred years ago the geocentric theory of Ptolemy placed earth and its human inhabitants at the center of the universe. As a result, the sun, as if showing devotion to man, rotated around the earth. Even after Galileo proposed his ?heliocentric? theory citing that the earth revolved around the sun, the Catholic Church, among others, refused to reject the geocentric theory. Due to his beliefs, Galileo was placed under house arrest, declared a heretic and very nearly burnt to the stake. Similarly, on July 25, 1925, John Scopes was placed on trial in Dayton, Tennessee, for teaching the principles of evolution.

Probably considered equally heretical by many Fundamentalist Christians. The teaching of evolution in public and private schools then became an important issue. The Scopes Monkey Trial served as an examination of American values because it considered the issue of the separation of church and state. It examined the restrictions on freedom of speech, and because it encouraged a more critical view of established Christian Dogma. It must be admitted that some, including Fundamentalists and Creationists, typically have not supported the teaching of any ?Darwinian? evolution in public schools. After all, any teaching that included other than a strict Biblical interpretation constituted heresy. Although Fundamentalist and Creationists might admit that they would not approve of

government interference with their beliefs, they nevertheless have repeatedly challenged science curricula, especially in the areas of the teaching of evolution. Unquestionably, those who have supported the literal interpretation of the Bible may be alarmed by some of Darwin’s teachings. For example, Darwin’s suggestion that all life forms, including man, evolved from more primitive life forms. This appeared to lower the significance of man in the great scheme of things. How was it possible for a perfect God to create less than perfect organisms in a quest to produce man in his own image? The ideas that organisms evolved may have suggested that God was subject to mistakes and therefore not perfect. The last thing that one who relied unconditionally upon his religion would

want to hear would be the invalidity of his God. Suggesting that man evolved from “a lower form of animal”(Blake 550). Anything contrary to the creation story of Genesis was considered an attack on not on only the power of God but also the credibility of Biblical teachings. The residents of Dayton, Tennessee, considering themselves god-fearing and ardent supporters of the literal interpretation of the Bible were prepared to do battle against the godless evolutionists. Reinforced by the law passed by the Tennessee legislature in March, 1925 stating that; “any teacher in any public school of the State, which are supported by public funds… could not teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine creation of man and to instead teach that man has descended from a lower

order of animals”(Blake 550). As a sign of their support, hanging outside the courtroom door was a sign that read “Sweethearts, come to Jesus” as well as “Read your Bible daily”(Larson 148). Indeed, the scene was set in 1925 when the ACLU commissioned Clarence Darrow to defend John Scopes while the Fundamentalists were led by the famous orator, William Jennings Bryan. History would be made in the tiny town of Dayton, Tennessee as the significance of personal freedoms and rights became issues of note. The Scopes Monkey Trial was important to democratic principles because it encouraged the separation of church and state. The First Amendment to the US Constitution, states that people have the “right to practice their religion as they wish”(US Constitution). This