Scopes Trial Essay

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The Scopes Trial and the Question of The Right to Teach Evolution in Public School The Scopes Trial raised an important question about whether the government could suppress scientific theories, like evolution, in favor of religion. By making the teaching of evolution in public schools illegal, the government was stripping away a valuable right. This issue is still important today; in fact, the issue of teaching evolution in schools still rages on, along with a new argument, that if we allow teaching evolution in public schools, then aren’t we duty bound to also teach creationism, or something else, as an alternative theory? Today there is a movement to teach “intelligent design,” which injects the idea of God into science, either in addition to evolution or as an alternative thereto. On The heels of Florida and Oklahoma having enacted laws prohibiting the teaching of evolution, the State of Tennessee enacted their law, when on March 21, 1925, Tennessee Governor, Austin Peay, signed the Butler bill into law, which banned the teaching of evolution in public school. The Butler Act prohibited the teaching of “any theory that denies the story of Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” Interestingly, when Governor Peay signed the bill into law, he said that, “I can find nothing of consequence in the books now being taught in our schools with which this bill will interfere in the slightest manner.” In fact, the biology book that was used in biology classes in Dayton, Tennessee was George William Hunter’s A Civic Biology from 1914, which clearly propounded the theory of evolution. Upon the passage of the Butler act, the American Civil Liberties Union (the “ACLU”) in New York volunteered to defend any teacher who would challenge the Butler Act. George W. Rappleyea, a mine

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