Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Great Scopes Myth: The convenient lie lives on

Time Magazine has a story the town of Dayton, Tennessee is still dealing with what is popularly termed the "Scopes Monkey Trial." The 1925 trial became a national obsession when the national media descended on the town, turned it into a circus, and then made fun of it.

The Time story continues to do what the media has traditionally done when reporting on the trial: falsify history:
Though Bryan and the creationists initially won this fight, the law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools was eventually overturned in the 1960s. [emphasis added]
The Butler Act which was the subject of the trial did not "prohibit the teaching of evolution." It did prohibit denying the literal account of man's origins, however, and the press took it from there.

And then, of course, there was Inherit the Wind, a play based on the trial that simply falsified history to make its preachy point which was then made into several even more preachy movies.

Oh well, the Great Scopes Myth (part of the larger Darwinist Myth) must be sustained in the national consciousness--all, ironically, in the name of truth.


Anonymous said...

Here is the text of the Butler Act:

AN ACT prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution Theory in all the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, and to provide penalties for the violations thereof.

Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That it shall be unlawful for any teacher 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 school 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 descended from a lower order of animals.

Section 2. Be it further enacted, That any teacher found guilty of the violation of this Act, Shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be fined not less than One Hundred $ (100.00) Dollars nor more than Five Hundred ($ 500.00) Dollars for each offense.

Section 3. Be it further enacted, That this Act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it.

Martin Cothran said...

Check. Did you have a point or was this just further information?

Anonymous said...

"to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."

Since evolution involves common descent, this law does forbid the teaching of evolution in schools.

Martin Cothran said...

I said in my post that it did outlaw the denial of the literal creation account of man. But the law does not prohibit the teaching of evolution per se. That was my point. There was nothing that would have prohibited the teaching the of the evolution of all other plants and animals in the act.

Anonymous said...

Actually there was a controversy at the trial about the exact meaning of the poorly worded Butler Act. Everyone took it to mean that it banned teaching evolution, especially human evolution, but it is worded in such a way that it only bans evolution if it denies what is taught in the "Bible." The law never even defines what contitutes the Bible or even what part of it or which translation. Would the Butler Act have banned teaching theistic evolution? Perhaps, depending on how the phrase "to teach instead" is interpreted. In one of the various histories of the trial, I once read how upset Bryan was at having to defend such a badly written law. Darrow and Malone had a field day with this.