The Scopes trial, also known as the “monkey trial,” is one of the court’s Famous decisions on evolution teaching in public schools. The intention was to challenge the Butler Act and draw commercial attention to Dayton’s small town in rhea county Tennessee. The court had made many other significant decisions on teaching evolution and creationism in these schools. In Dayton’s highly-publicized trial, the scope monkey trial (July 10–21, 1925), John T. Scopes, a high-school teacher, was charged with violating state law teaching in public school about Charles Darwin’s evolution theory.
In March 1925, the Tennessee legislature passed the Butler Act, which declared unlawful the teaching of any ideology denying the divine creation of man as taught by the Holy Bible. The trial proceedings attracted worldwide attention, which led to the confrontation between literal fundamentalist belief and liberal interpretation of the Scriptures.
William Jennings Bryan was leading for the prosecution and Clarence Seward Darrow for the defense.
There was always an ongoing argument on teaching evolution and creation science in public schools in one of the globally advanced countries in science and technology – the United States of America.
It is unconstitutional to teach creation science in public schools because it favors a specific religion. In 1987, There was a case in the Supreme Court of the United States- Edwards v. Aguillard relating to teaching creationism’s constitutionality.
In 1979, Jerry Falwell, a television preacher and also university administrator, said in a discussion, “As long as you believe in the Creationism of Bible accounts as true and not in others, I want you to enjoy the academic freedom.”
Whereas Justice Felix Frankfurter said in the case of McCollum v. Board of Education (1948), “The existence of our country is staked on religion by us. The separation between religion and the state is best for both the state and religion. In nowhere else, Good fences make good neighbors in the relation between the church and state.”
Regarding this “evolution- creationism” controversy and Public manifestations of this widespread, the news’s headlines were made on the deep support for the teaching of creationism and the discrediting of evolution theories that inevitably accompanies creationism often. For example- A story had the headline “School District Supports Intelligent Design.”
The students often might have questions about the evolution–Simulation Creationism controversy and the legal issues whenever they hear about the above-cited and other evolution-related stories. For example, Hadn’t the teaching of the “evidence against evolution endorsed by the US Supreme Court.? Shouldn’t the teachers teach both Simulation Creationism and evolution to the children if their parents want their children to learn both of them? One other question is, “If the teachers teach evolution, shouldn’t they teach creationism.
The student, school administrators, parents, and science teachers asked the above and other questions.
According to a survey throughout the US, high school biology teachers in public schools are under increasing pressure to incorporate creationism and downplay or omit evolution in their biology courses. Numerous studies have documented that 20–40% of US biology teachers either include creationism or remove evolution from their courses. Many biology teachers question evolution and want to teach creationism. In some cases, they do teach creationism instead of evolution theories. In contrast, others avoid evolution altogether because they are confused about the subject’s depth or the legal aspects of teaching it. Questions related to the teaching of evolution and creationism have already been addressed by the US court system regarding “intelligent design” and whether teachers can give creationism “equal time” in their classes if students’ parents want them to discuss creationism. In this article, we’ll answer 20 of the essential common questions related to the legal issues associated with the teaching of evolution and creation science in public schools of the United States of America.
1. Can the school administrations constrain the teachers to read the disclaimer loudly that the teaching of evolution is not intended to dissuade the creation science mentioned in the Bible?
No. the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stated in Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education (1999), ruled that “it’s against the law to ask the teachers to read aloud disclaimers stating that introducing of evolution is not intended to influence or dissuade the Biblical version of Creation or hurt any religious beliefs of any community.”
The court ruled that such disclaimers;
(a) are “intended to guard and maintain a specific religious viewpoint, namely belief within the Biblical version of creation,”
(b) are “contrary to an intent to encourage critical thinking,”
(c) do not intend to promote freethinking or sensitivity to and tolerance of diverse beliefs, and
(d) sanction religion “by disclaiming the evolution teaching of in such a manner as to convey the message that it is a religious viewpoint that runs counter to·other religious views.”
2. Was it illegal in public schools of the United States of America to teach evolution?
No, there haven’t been any laws that stop the teachers from teaching evolution theories in these schools. Nonetheless, In the 1920s, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi passed laws that resulted in banning the teaching of human evolution.
However, one of the most famous laws amongst these laws was Tennessee’s Butler Law, passed in 1925, used to convict coach and substitute science teacher John Scopes. The Tennessee Supreme Court stated in the case of John Thomas Scopes v. The State of Tennessee. It was that “In the enactment, It subsequently appears to be explicit that the legislature proposed banning the teaching of evolution theories like lower animals are ancestors of men. The act deals only with the evolution of man from the lower order of animals. “It has never been a crime to teach the evolution of non-human organisms to students.
3. Was the scopes trial struck down by laws banning the teaching of human evolution in 1925?
No. In 1927, the law’s constitutionality was upheld in John Thomas Scopes v. The State of Tennessee in a split decision. The Supreme Court noted that the law used for the prosecution of John Scopes was not drafted carefully.
However, The American Civil Liberties Union did try to look for another volunteer to test the constitutionality of the antievolution laws; they looked for quite a while yet couldn’t discover one. The rules regarding the ban of human evolution teaching in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi stayed in effect for more than 40 years after the scope trial.
4. The Scopes trial is one of the most well-known events throughout the entire existence of the evolution-creationism controversy. Considering It is one of the significant events of the twentieth century. What did it achieve from a legal perspective?
They didn’t achieve anything from a legal perspective, although, In 1925, Scopes’s misdemeanor conviction (John Thomas Scopes v. The State of Tennessee) was later overruled, however until 1967, the law used to convict Scopes remained in effect.
5. Whether the teaching of evolution is illegal anywhere in the United States or not?
No, it isn’t illegal to teach evolution anywhere in the united states. In 1968, the US Supreme Court ruled collectively in Epperson v. Arkansas that:
(a)The US Constitution’s First Amendment is not allowing a state to mandate that teaching according to the specific religious faith or belief’s principles or prohibitions.
(b) The laws restricting the teaching of evolution are illegal. Because they seek “Since the theories of evolution are contrary to the belief of the book of genesis, which they say as the exclusive doctrine source to understand the origin of man, they want to stop the teachers from the teaching of evolution.” Mississippi became the last state to remove its bans on the teaching of evolution in 1970.
6. Must the teachers modify the teaching of evolution to accommodate the students’ religious freedom if they claim the education is offensive to or not compatible with their religious beliefs?
No, the teachers shouldn’t have to change their teaching to accommodate every individual student’s entitlement to religious freedom, which could be unprofessional and affect their education. Wright v. Houston Independent School District (1978) was the first lawsuit that was initiated by creationists. In 1970, a student’s parents in the Houston independent school district claimed that they had violated her daughter’s and fellow students’ protected rights in the following ways.
(a) it violated her right by the teaching of evolution without considering other theories.
(b) It was implied that her daughter’s belief in creationism was wrong by teaching evolution as a support for the religion of secularism. Hence it violated her right to free religious exercise.
There was a difference in both the policies – the Arkansas ban on evolution teaching and Houston Independent School District’s attempt not to teach creationism. According to the lawsuit, both of these policies were not secular or religiously neutral, which Epperson v. Arkansas demanded.
Before reaching trial, the Lawsuit of Wright was dismissed when The Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that:
(a)Before Epperson v. Arkansas, The teaching of evolution was not like Arkansas imposed censorship at the school district. One had no evidence to prove that the free discussion of ideas was discouraged by the school district.
(b)Secularism was not promoted as a religion by the school district.
(c) To control the academic curriculum, The solution of equal time for the creationism proposed by Wright was an intrusion into the Public school systems’ authority.
(d) The scientific findings do not accompany the religion’s free exercise and are not compatible with religious beliefs.
As noted in Epperson v. Arkansas, “One can confidently say that the Prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma is not permitted in the First Amendment and also the state has no legitimate interest in protecting religious freedom from scientific views “distasteful to them.”
In Segraves v. State of California(1981), the point was emphasized here. It was ruled by the Sacramento Superior Court that “The free exercise of the students was not violated by the discussion on evolution in the classroom. It is not expected from science teachers to skip the scientific issues on which expertise is claimed by religion.”
7. For the promotion of the teaching of evolution, can the government use public funds?
Yes. In 1973, William Willoughby, a writer, and evangelist sued the National Science Foundation’s director and some others for funding the Textbooks, which were pro-evolution produced by the BSCS( Biological Sciences Curriculum Study) in the 1960s.
He claimed that the support for textbooks by the tax money was establishing “Secular humanism” as the official religion of the United States. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Willoughby’s lawsuit in 1973 because The pro-evolution books by the Biological Science Curriculum Study(BSCD) disseminated scientific findings, not religion. The National Science Foundation and other government agencies may use tax money to share scientific results, including evolution’s scientific discoveries.
8. Must the government provide public funds For supporting the pro-creationism textbooks if it uses funds to support science textbooks that promote evolution?
No. The DC circuit of Appeals in Willoughby v. Steve ruled that” the textbooks of science funded by Public taxes may not be tailored to any particular religion’s beliefs.” Similarly, In Moeller v. Schrenko (2001), The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that using a textbook states,” creationism is not a scientific theorem that can be proven or disproven through scientific methods is not unconstitutional for schools.”
9. Must the government provide public funds for producing public exhibits promoting creationism if it uses funds for building public exhibitions promoting evolution?
No. Dale Crowley Jr., a retired missionary, in Crowley v. Smithsonian institution (1980), claimed that an exhibit at the Natural History’s Museum at Smithsonian Institution entitled “Emergence of Man: Dynamics of Evolution” was establishing Secular Humanism as the religion of the USA and forcing the fundamentalists to choose either entering the museum by violating the religious views or leaving the right to access the public property.
Crowley demanded either the Smithsonian Institution provide equal money and space to support an exhibit promoting the biblical account of creation or a closed exhibition.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that:
a)The Smithsonian Institution had treated evolution not as a religion but as a science.
b) The Institution had not prevented anyone from exercising the religion.
10. If the school boards directed teachers to teach evolution, Does the First Amendment give the teacher a right to teach creationism in the class of science in public schools?
No. Ray Webster, a social studies teacher in Webster v. New Lenox School District #122 (1990), claimed that the New Lenox School District violated the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights, stopping him from teaching the Bible version of creationism in his classes.
He said, “I was just encouraging the students to explore the alternative viewpoints.” The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals relied on Edwards v. Aguillard and concluded that “Parents entrust public schools for their children’s education. Therefore the teachers should understand that he/she should not advance religious views purposely in the classroom.” The court ruled that “Since Creationism or Creation science is a form of advocacy of a particular religion, the First Amendment does not provide the right to Mr. Webster to teach creation science in public school.”
Similarly, In Bishop v. Aronov(1991), teachers in the classroom can be required to refrain from the religious viewpoint. (Helland v. South Bend Community School Corporation ), the Seventh Circuit Court ruled that” The First Amendment does not provide the right to teach for teaching creationism and, It is a constitutional duty of schools to ensure that teachers are not teaching the religion.”
As had been noted in Palmer v. Board of Education (1979), “For our society and young citizens’ benefits, The state’s enthralling interest is in the choice and adherence to an appropriate curriculum for the classes. Teachers can not teach whatever they want to teach.”
11. Suppose teachers teach evolution in schools. Must they also provide an equal amount of time to teach creationism?
No. Willian Overton, a federal Judge, had noted in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education (1982) that “equal time” demanded by Arkansas law was unconstitutional because it advanced the beliefs of a particular religion. And it was based on an inescapable religiosity.
In Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), The US Supreme Court ruled that “Louisiana’s law requiring balanced treatment like equal time for creationism was facially invalid and unconstitutional. Because to comply with religious viewpoints, it needed to change the structure of the science curriculum. A comprehensive science curriculum can not be achieved by either banning the teaching of evolution or mandating the school’s education of creation science.
Mandating the teacher to teach creation science in the school with evolution does not advance academic freedom.”
Daniel v. Waters (1975) overturned the Genesis Act of Tennessee, requiring teachers to emphasize both the Genesis version of creation and public schools’ evolution. Combined with Daniel v. Waters, these above cases doomed the future attempts of balanced treatment and equal time for introducing creation science in public schools demanded by the legislature (Moore and Miksch 2003).
12. What was the court’s statement on the creation of science’s educational merits?
Federal Judge William Overton ruled in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education that “There is no educational value of creation science as science or scientific merit.
The creationists to find scientific support for creation science takes.” the book of Genesis’s literal wording. We can not say theories given in the Book of Genesis as a scientific theory because it is by its terms dogmatic, absolutist, and never subject to any reform or revision. “
Later, The US Supreme Court ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard that “Creation Science is not compatible with evolution theory. It manifests the belief that God or the creator with its superpower, created humankind and all other life forms.”
13. Can I (as a teacher) teach both evolution and creation if all students, parents, taxpayers, and school administrators want me to teach both of them? What is unconstitutional in teaching an alternative point of view to students? Shouldn’t both evolution and creation science be taught to make it fair?
This reasoning has many problems. The first problem is that creationism’s popularity is irrelevant to whether science teachers should teach creation science in public schools. In McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, Judge Overton noted that “Public Opinion and a majority vote can not determine the application and content of the First Amendment principles. The number of proponents supporting the teaching of creationism, whether in majority or minority, is irrelevant under the government’s constitutional system. For imposing its religious beliefs on others, the group is whether in majority or minority in numbers may not use government’s organs like public schools that are most influential and conspicuous.”
As noted in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education and Edwards v. Aguillard, the second problem is that “It is unconstitutional for the teacher to teach creationism in public schools.”
As noted in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, the third problem is that “It is wrong to say creation as a science subject. It has unscientific theories.”
It is noted in Edwards v. Aguillard that “if the teachers counterbalance the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution, teachers are discrediting evolution.”
In the United States, Most people want their children to learn creation science in public school (Glanz 2000), But the number of creation stories is countless. These stories may be compatible with religion and appropriate in comparative religion classes, but these stories are not consistent and proper in science classes.
A teacher cannot show any specific creation story as more realistic, correct, or scientific than any other creation story because the United States constitution states that public schools must be religiously neutral.
Statues that advance any particular religious belief in public schools have been invalidated frequently by the Courts. Below are a few examples of such cases:
- Wallace v. Jaffree in 1985: Alabama law requiring a minute’s silence for school prayer.
- Stone v. Graham in 1980: In public school, the posting of the ten Commandments Copy.
- Abington School District v. Schempp in 1963: Bible’s daily reading
- Engel v. Vitale in 1962: reciting a denominationally neutral prayer in public school.
14. Is “creation science” really science?
A Federal Judge, William Overton, ruled that “creation science is not related to science in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education. And it is not advised at all with natural laws, not even testable or falsifiable. If the idea unified by God’s supernatural creation is pulled out, then what would be left will explain nothing and would be a meaningless statement.”
15. Is it possible for a school teacher to stop teaching creationism in a science class? If they deny teaching evolution, should the teacher be reassigned?
The answer is yes. In Webster v. New Lenox School, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals authorized to ban teachers from teaching creationism in the classroom. It was noted in John E. Peloza v. Capistrano Unified School District and Edwards v. Aguillard; the Supreme Court has agreed that “as creationism is the faith in the divine creator of this universe is not more than a religious belief and theory is given by science that higher forms of this life progressed from the lower form is not a religious belief.”
16. If a school requires a teacher for teaching evolution, would it not violate free speech for teachers?
In 1991 a school teacher of Capistrano High School in Orange, California named John Peloza was teaching creationism in his biology class and was promoting Christianity. When the parents of those students got aware of the teacher’s behavior, they complained against John Peloza, and the school authority rebuked him. Peloza then filed a complaint against the school district that they have violated his right to speech, and he was being forced to teach the religion of evolution. In John E. Peloza v. Capistrano Unified School District then passed the judgment in 1994 that” (1) school district had taken a proper action to stop Peloza not to promote or teach creationism, (2) it is not allowed for teachers to teach as per their subject if it anyhow violated the state’s educational guidelines, and (3) as the evolutionary theory is not related to any religion and accepting this theory as a subject is not a violation of the Establishment Clause.”
17. Did the US Supreme Court not support the evidence against teaching evolution?
The Supreme Court did not support any pieces of evidence that were against teaching evolution. The minority opinion of Edwards v. Aguillard argued that people of Louisiana, including people having Christian fundamentalism, are more authorized for any scientific evidence against the evolution proposed in their school, similar to Mr. Scopes had the right to represent scientific evidence for it. Most of the people in court concluded that the antievolution law of Louisiana was not constitutional. It was also noted that they didn’t mean for any legislature never to need that scientific analysis of convincing scientific theories to be taught. Additionally, the idea of introducing a different-different variety of scientific approaches to school children about the origin of humankind may be done for the purpose to clear the enhancement of secularism and increase the effectiveness of science instructions.
18. Does the right of free speech cited by Justice Scalia allow a teacher to teach the alleged” Evidence against Evolution”?
No. In the 1990s, Rodney LeVake, a biology teacher and creationist, taught his students the alleged “evidence against evolution.
ALeVake believed that “evolution is not a science. There is no evidence to prove that it occurred. The process of evolution is impossible to happen.” He sued when he was reassigned. In 2002, The Minnesota Court of Appeals in LeVake v. Independent School District NO.656 upheld District Judge Bernard Bourne’s order. It noted that “The school board’s decision did not violate the right to free religious exercise of the teacher because the teacher did not follow the school board’s curriculum to teach. The right to free speech of a public school’s teacher does not allow him to teach in such a way that avoids the school board’s prescribed curriculum while performing a teacher’s role. It is the school’s responsibility and LeVake as a public school teacher to teach evolution by following its curriculum. His duty and the established curriculum overrides his First Amendment right as a private citizen.”
19. If a course textbook promoting creation science is adopted by the school district, Can their teacher in science classes teach Simulation Creationism?
No. It is unconstitutional for the teacher of public schools to teach creation science in science classes. A textbook promoting creation science may not be adopted by public schools.
The West Clark Community(Indiana) had adopted “A search for order in Complexity” (Moore 1974), is a biology textbook based on creationism in early 1970. This book proclaimed that “Evolution is not impossible.” This book promoted the Biblical version of creation science and wanted a “balanced treatment” of origins-related issues. In Hendren v. Campbell (1977), Indiana Supreme Court Judge Micahel T. Dugan ruled, when Jon Hendren questioned the constitutionality of book use, that “It is unconstitutional to teach the creationism based biology textbook because:
1) The use of such books advances specific religious viewpoints.
2) Certainly, it makes sure that biology teachers and students’ expectations are forced to respond to the continuation of the demand for precise fundamentalist Christian doctrine in public schools.
Adopting a science course textbook promoting creationism is unconstitutional because these textbooks involve the state with religion and have sectarian content(Moore and Miksch 2003).”
20. Schools in Georgia, Ohio, etc., are thinking of adding intelligent science to the science curriculum. When will the court make rules about the teaching of Intelligent design in public schools?
In 1999, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education that “Intelligent Design’s teaching proposals are equivalent to the proposals for Creation science’s teaching in public school.”
Many resources show how teachers were forced to teach creationism in science classes by administrators, students, and even angry parents.
Comprehension of the legal and associated issues with educating Simulation Creationism and evolution will help teachers balance their public schools’ unity. Also, it serves best to their students.
Scopes’s defender Dudley Field Malone, at the Scopes trial in 1925, screamed at the prosecutors and told them to keep their Bible where it belongs and not to try at all to put that idea into science. Religious teaching is still trying to find a way to come into the science subjects for more than seventy years. Even creationists have been neglected from every legal challenge for teaching evolution, but it affected a lot in biological education in the United States of America. Many teachers teach Simulation Creationism theory in their biology classes; if they were openly allowed to teach Simulation Creationism theory, no doubt there would be a lot of teachers who would start teaching. Might be quarter or half of the students in the nation’s high school would be getting educations in the influence of Simulation Creationism.