Essay on Evolution in the United States Education System

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Evolution in the United States Education System

In July of 1925, a Tennessee high school teacher named John Scopes sat in a court room facing a violation of state law by teaching evolution, the idea that human beings and monkeys share a similar ancestry. This was no ordinary trial, this was the “trial of the century”; it featured heavy media attention, it was a battle between two of the best attorneys in the nation, and it raised many questions about evolution and creation, the theory that human beings were put on Earth by God. Today, these questions still are not answered, with cases and debates still popping up 78 years after the famous “monkey trial,” with the same issues at hand: creation versus evolution (Futuyma 6).

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The Butler Act of 1925, as it was called in Tennessee, left many conservative Christians content but left others unsure about the anti-evolution law, particularly the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU guaranteed support to any Tennessee teacher that would teach evolution and ignore the act. George Rappalyea, the head of a mine company and a druggist of Dayton, Tennessee, was against the law and decided to talk to the school board about taking on the ACLU’s offer. In the end, John Scopes, a football coach and substitute science teacher, got the role and so as it went, he taught evolution and was arrested, all set up by his colleagues. The ACLU kept its promise, hiring one of the best lawyers in the country, Clarence Darrow, while William Jennings Bryan, a three-time Presidential candidate and very religious Presbyterian, volunteered his services for the State of Tennessee.

The trial took place at Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee and, as expected, brought much media attention and fortune to the small town (one of the reasons why Rappalyea wanted to take on the ACLU’s offer). Newspapers from all over the country and from Europe followed the case closely, with Bryan trying to preserve the word of God and Darrow publicly saying he wanted to show up fundamentalism, making the case live up to its name, the “trial of the

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