Scopes Trial Essay

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The twentieth century Scopes trial may have started out as a simple debate between evolutionists and creationists, but quickly escalated to a debate of historic proportions. The 1920s were times of change in the United States, from women getting the right to vote to prohibition to changes in education, such as the Butler Act, which created unease and animosity throughout the country. The Butler Act of 1925 prohibited the teaching of evolution and any other theories that deny the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible in all Universities and public schools in Tennessee. John Scopes, a high-school biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee decided to test this law. He was found guilty of teaching evolution to his high-school students despite the Butler Act, resulting in a court trial that brought strong personalities of both the North and South into one courtroom. These conflicting personalities brought to light the real reasons behind the intensity of the trial. Fear played a big part in the trial because creationists and traditionalists truly feared the rejection of God, the Divine Creation of man and the Bible because they feared for the morality of civilization. As the times changed there was more pressure for Americans to modernize their ideas but traditionalists believed these changes caused people to stray from the word of God and the Bible and had no desire to change their God-fearing ways. Antipathy was also growing stronger between the North and the South resulting in biased opinions on many subjects. The Scopes trial controversy was more complicated than a simple debate between evolutionists and creationists because of the fear and bias generated in a time of advancement from traditionalism to modernism.

Religious Fundamentalists were outspoken in expressing their approval of the Butler Act. In 1925 many citizens wrote letters to Tennessee’s newspapers in response to the Butler Act, including Mrs. Jesse Sparks, a Tennesseean parent in...
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