The conflict between evolution, religion and cultural beliefs has existed for an extended period. Tennessee was not an exception because it became an international symbol of modernism resistance in 1925. This is because of the legislature’s passage of the bill that barred all public schools from teaching about human beings’ evolution. The publication of Charles Darwin in 1859, known as The Origin of Species, helped the Northern protestant churches make peace with science. By 1900, the Northerners believed that the Bible contained symbolic but not literal truth due to Darwinism’s influence. However, conservatives did not agree with this thinking and initiated ways to counter it. They believed that it was inappropriate for Christians to abandon certain faith principles that they had practiced for a long period.
Two businessmen from California published The Fundamentals in 1910, which insisted that there were no errors in the Bible; therefore, its information should be accepted as accurate. Fundamentalism caused significant divisions in American churches and seminars. However, the South was not affected because individuals had never accepted Darwinism, and there were no theology liberals. Southern conservatives expressed their concerns over evolution to their Northern counterparts. The reason was that they feared what would happen to the young people if science was taught in public schools. Resolutions to prohibit teaching science were introduced in 1925 by the General assembly in favor of the Butler Act. Butler, a primitive Baptist who operated a threshing machine, had proposed the barring of any theory that disregarded the divine story of God’s creation as it was written in the Bible. He added that schools should teach that human beings descended from animals’ lower order. This bill received significant support from different denominations in Tennessee; therefore, it was passed.
The act aroused distinct emotions and thoughts from individuals nationwide. For example, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), established in 1920, stated that it would offer financial support to any teacher who would challenge the ruling. John Thomas Scopes from East Tennessee’s Rhea County decided to confront the law. Various books, magazines, articles, and videos show different ideas of what happened to Scopes in the summer of 1925. Violating the Butler act was a serious offense, but a small fine was imposed on people who challenged it. Scopes did not teach science openly but helped the students to revise the tests.
Thomas was apprehended before the Grand Jury of Rhea County. The state represented Williams Jennings Bryans, while Clarence Darrow defended Scopes. Thomas’s students asserted that he had taught biology in class; therefore, he was found guilty of the charge and was convicted. The trial did not change anything, and the bill remained in Tennessee until 1967 despite the attempts to repeal it. The intellectuals in Tennessee were embarrassed because they felt unvalued and unappreciated by the state. The state-supported college presidents remained silent about the issue. However, Vanderbilt University’s chancellor raised funds to build a school of religion and science labs as an answer to Dayton.
In conclusion, evolution has faced significant criticism and rejection from different religious and cultural groups. However, science is essential and should be embraced and taught in schools. The reason is that students are helped to understand the twenty-first microbiological challenges and develop ways of confronting them. Also, students understand the development and change of microbes from evolution. The future scientists’ generation should learn the various tools to deal with resistant bacteria, deadly microbes, and emerging viruses. Additionally, science helps people understand the reasons and purpose of their anatomy and physiology. Educators are also allowed to shed light on science and differentiate it from other human understanding forms.