Monkey trial II?

305 scimmia  monkeyThe evolution versus God legal wars started anew this week, or at least that is how the media is framing the landmark Pennsylvania trial over whether a school district is legally able to require students to hear about the “intelligent design” theory.

The storyline starts with a gripping courtroom scene starring the Creator of the Universe versus Charles Darwin. While it makes for a catchy storyline, I fail to see how that analogy follows what is actually happening on the ground. Here is how The Australian framed the story:

A court case that has gripped the US, pitting Darwin’s theory of evolution against the idea that the universe was created by “intelligent design”, opened in Pennsylvania yesterday with the world watching.

Eighty years after the so-called Scopes “Monkey” Trial in Tennessee, which set proponents of evolutionary theory against adherents of the biblical account of creation, this trial is being dubbed “Scopes II”.

It puts Charles Darwin’s theory that life evolves through natural selection and random mutation up against intelligent design, which holds that certain features of life, unexplained by evolution, are too complex to have developed through an undirected process and are best attributed to an unnamed and unseen intelligent agent.

This “Scopes II” storyline is going to be the major theme throughout the court case, which is unfortunate in my opinion because the media’s coverage of the first trial was not all that impressive.

Wikipedia provides some context:

Chicago’s WGN radio station broadcast the trial with announcer Quin Ryan via clear channel broadcasts for the first on-the-scene coverage of a criminal trial. Two movie cameramen had their film flown out daily in a small plane from a specially prepared airstrip. H. L. Mencken’s trial reports were heavily slanted against the prosecution and the jury which was “unanimously hot for Genesis.” He mocked the town’s inhabitants as “yokels” and “morons”. He called Bryan a “buffoon” and his speeches “theologic bilge”. In contrast, he called the defense “eloquent” and “magnificent”. Some evolutionists have claimed that Mencken’s trial reports turned public opinion against creationism, though few people seem to have actually noticed this at the time.

Let’s hope the reporters covering this 2005 version of the Monkey Trail get this one right because we are in a different media era than the one we were in back in 1925, aren’t we?

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  • Basil

    My previous comments on this thread will attest that I’m no fan of Intelligent Design®, but I recall that it’s a little more sophisticated than “God of the gaps,” as the article implies by saying “certain features of life, unexplained by evolution, are too complex to have developed through an undirected process and are best attributed to an unnamed and unseen intelligent agent.” Also, Intelligent Design® is something different from intelligent design, which this article definitely gets totally wrong.

    If I didn’t think that the right balance between reason and faith were important, the setup of a boxing match between Charles and the Divine would be funny. Since it belies a cynicism that is agnostic at best, it is simply sad.

    That we are still fighting this battle a century later is evidence that Christian leaders of the last century failed to teach their people to discern what is truly important about their faith.

  • Bartholomew

    Ahh, that wicked Mencken! There always has to be some villain to explain why creationists don’t get the respect they deserve.

    Here’s some extracts from Mencken’s actual coverage.

  • tmatt


    As a former resident of NE Tennessee — near Church Hill — I would argue that the MSM tends to see this new case as Scopes/Monkey III.

  • Dan Berger

    Mencken’s attitude is eerily reminiscent of some in the MSM elite: a combination of condescension, derision and incomprehension. He is certainly not a populist, is Mencken (not that there was any doubt of that) and his sneers at the great William Jennings Bryan are a bit too much to take.

  • Dan Berger

    Of course, Mencken was the very embodiment of the MSM elite in his day, wasn’t he?