Today marks the 80th anniversary of John Scopes’ arrest. He was the teacher in Tennessee who was busted for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in a public school. The “monkey trial” that summer was about as big as Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, and OJ Simpson combined, with William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow facing off as opposing counsel. Bryan won, Scopes lost and was fined $100, but evolution soon became standard fare in schools across the land.
Over the last few years, there’s been some backsliding in school districts across the country — Kansas being the most famous, but not the only example — as fundamentalists have tried to sneak in “creation science” as an alternative curriculum and insisted that textbooks and teachers tell students that evolution is not the only accepted theory. It is the only accepted scientific theory, but that hasn’t stopped legislators like Cynthia Davis, here in Missouri, from trying to undermine the way biology and other sciences are taught. Fortunately, the state legislature has thus far rebuked her efforts. Maybe some of them listened to the late Pope John Paul II, who said that evolution was not incompatible with faith.
Hard to believe this battle is still being fought eight decades after Scopes. Perhaps we still haven’t evolved as much as we should.