Heredity, Natural Selection, and Evolution

Highlights of Evolution

What was the Scopes (monkey) trial?

John T. Scopes (1900–1970), a high-school biology teacher, was brought to trial by the State of Tennessee in 1925 for teaching the theory of evolution. He challenged a law passed by the Tennessee legislature that made it unlawful to teach in any public school any theory that denied the divine creation of man. He was convicted and sentenced, but the decision was reversed later and the law repealed in 1967.

In the early twenty-first century, pressure against school boards still affects the teaching of evolution. Recent drives by anti-evolutionists either have tried to ban the teaching of evolution or have demanded “equal time” for “special creation” as described in the biblical book of Genesis. This has raised many questions about the separation of church and state, the teaching of controversial subjects in public schools, and the ability of scientists to communicate with the public. The gradual improvement of the fossil record, the result of comparative anatomy, and many other developments in biological science has contributed toward making evolutionary thinking more palatable.


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