On the 21st of January, 1925, Representative John Washington Butler introduced a bill to the Tennessee legislature outlawing the teaching of evolution in the state’s schools. Specifically, it prohibited “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”
It passed the house and then on this day in 1925 it passed the state senate. A week later it was signed into law by Governor Austin Peay. (Go here for a complete chronology and some interesting links.)
This all, of course, led directly to the infamous Scopes Trial.I find it unfortunate that the evangelical wing of American Protestant religion continues to find evolution problematic. For a number of reasons, but not least because I think a fascinating spiritual discipline has emerged out of the turmoil at the beginning of the emergence of evolutionary theory.
My colleague Fred Muir has asked me to submit an essay on that for a book to be published by the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Skinner House Books on spirituality and evolutionary theory. I’ve just sent off a, I hope, final draft of that essay. If you have some extra time on your hands, you might find the first draft which was presented as a sermon here in Providence mildly entertaining…