Why Is the Scopes Trial Significant - David Menton

why is the Scopes trial significant the

Scopes trial sometimes known as the

Tennessee Monkey Trial took place in a

hot summer in 1925 in little town Dayton

Tennessee there's a lot of

misunderstanding about the trail largely

because of a movie and play a pair at

the whim which has completely betrayed

the trial in a erroneous way what is the

truth of the matter and why is this

trial important for us to consider today

well the truth of the matter is it

wasn't the citizens of Dayton Tennessee

that we're upset here the people that

were upset where the American Civil

Liberties Union in New York City

approximately 20 states in America back

in 1925 had adopted bills in their state

legislature that prohibit the teaching

that man has evolved from a lower order

of animals and it passed unanimously in

Tennessee and the American Civil

Liberties Union to surprisingly was

concerned about this they wanted to see

evolution emphasized and of course the

whole idea of creation thrown out of the

classroom so they decided to do a test

case a test case as a legal effort to

try to make a particular law

unenforceable well the ACLU became

involved in two famous lawyers became

involved William Jennings Bryan

well-known Christian leader the

Democratic Party for about twenty or

thirty years

pitted against Clarence Darrow who

served as the defense of teacher John

Scopes Clarence Darrow very famous

criminal lawyer perhaps America's

greatest criminal lawyer and the two of

them were an ideal match because Darrow

was an outspoken agnostic with a real

contempt for what he called Christian

fundamentalism William Jennings Bryan on

the other hand was a very outspoken

Christian so this was a court krell

guaranteed to generate fireworks and

indeed it did the trial was a bit of

farce in many respects evolution was

portrayed as basically embryology

repeatedly the lawyers and the expert

witnesses tried to equate evolution with

the embryo logical development of humans

from a fertilized egg even with aging

the people who participate in the trial

and a jury couldn't possibly have gotten

any real idea of what evolution is all


well Scopes was found guilty fined $200

which Brian himself offered to pay

American Civil Liberties Union covered

all the expenses so teachers scopes

never endure it any costs here I think

the basic issue that's important today

many years later is the whole issue of

the trial was really over what authority

should parents have if any over what has

taught their children in the public

school classroom grade school junior

high high school even college if

supported by the funds of the state

these are still issues before us today

the arguments that we encounter in the

trial do not differ greatly from the

arguments we hear today between

creationists and evolutionists nothing

has really changed since 1925 and we can

indeed profit from looking back at