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The Monkey Trial Disputes The Theory Of Evolution And Creationism

1018 words - 5 pages

The Scopes Trial, which was also known as ‘The Monkey Trial’ or The State of Tennessee vs. Scopes, was a very popular legal dispute in court that was between the theory of evolution and creationism, and played a major role which shaped the 1920’s. What was just as popular was the interpretation of the case, if not more than the actual result of the dispute. This case received world-wide attention and the media coverage produced many different opinions world-wide. A major factor of why the Scopes trial had received so much attention in such an insignificant town was because of the stage the trial was played out on. The Butler Act is what made the Scopes trial possible. The Butler Act stated that it was prohibited for public schools in Tennessee from teaching evolution, or to go against the words of the Biblical story of creationism. The Act made it ‘unlawful for any teacher in in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the state which are supported in whole or in part by the public funds of the state, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible and to teach instead that man has described from lower order of animals’.
The Act was put in place in 1925 with almost no opposition in Tennessee’s Congress, if the law were to be broken, the offender would be placed a fine of $100 to $500. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which was a union who defended every person’s constitutional rights, offered to defend anyone in court who was accused of teaching evolution in schools. This was to of no shock to the people of Tennessee. ‘A fellow legislator estimated at the time that no fewer than 95 percent of all Tennesseans opposed the teaching of evolution’. However, the Act did surprise the rest of the United States. Although many of the southern states had not allowed for there to be teaching of evolution because of Creationism being highly influential to them, Tennessee took the matter to a whole new level when they were the first state ever to make the teaching of Evolution a punishable crime. Evolution was like the devil in Tennessee, no one wanted to be associated with it, have it taught in public schools, and they especially did not want to be compared to a monkey. This strong opposition against Evolution made Tennessee an interesting battleground for Creationism and Evolution.
The first step of the battle was for the Butler Act to find an opponent. What ended up happening was something that was unknown to the public. Leaders from Dayton, a small town in Tennessee, were conspiring to violate the Butler Act. The idea was first brought to attention in Dayton by a man named George Rappleyea, a businessman who had owned a number of mines around Dayton. Rappleyea, along with a few other people in the county school council and city prosecutors, were looking...

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