The Scopes Trial
In the year 1859, Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. In this book, Charles Darwin explains that species need to evolve and adapt in order to survive. Natural selection is the process in which over time certain species and/or characteristic of certain species, will evolve and flourish while others will not. Darwin outlines the scientific theory of evolution; that humans are actually descendants of the ape under the process of natural selection. Darwin suggested that rather than the idea of humans being created separately by God, the human species has evolved from a common precursor. Many scientists and a significant portion of the general public accepted the theory of evolution as a fact while fundamentalists rejected it. On the Origin of Species was the cause of a domino effect leading up to the Scopes trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. James Thomas Scopes, in 1925. The trial reflects a collision between science and religion due to discoveries that discredited the bible, and created tension between fundamentalists and modernists.
In the 1920’s, American culture began to take a turn onto a “modernist” road. The era known as the Jazz Age presented countless cultural changes for old, rural America. For the first time in history, more Americans were living in cities than on farms in the country. The abundance of population in the cities was creating a more urban and secular culture. The rise of the cities also formed working-class entertainment such as Jazz music and dance halls. With the Jazz music came “suggestive” dancing. A new independence of women appeared as well. Fundamentalists in the twenties accused Darwin and his theory of evolution as the “one great evil” that untied the modernism, urbanization, and sensationalism. Antievolutionist also held Darwinism responsible
William Jennings Bryan,