How was the Scopes trial more complicated than a simple debate between evolutionists and creationists? (Read each source below, then answer the questions in the notebook. Ask your teacher for an inquiry organizer worksheet to help you think about the ways that the sources support and contradict each other.)


READ: Olasky and Perry: Monkey Business

Head Note: The passage below is from a book called Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial by two journalists, Marvin Olasky and John Perry. Olasky and Perry argue that the Scopes trial gave rise to the common stereotype of creationists as backward and stupid. As you read the passage below, think about how Olasky and Perry would answer the main inquiry question.

Journalists who descended on Dayton in 1925 . . . carried with them antipathy toward fundamentalist Christianity. . . .

[R]eporters described the story as one of pro-evolution intelligence versus antievolution stupidity. . . . [For example, one journalist] summarized his view of the debate’s complexity by noting, “On the one side was bigotry, ignorance, hatred, superstition, every sort of blackness that the human mind is capable of. On the other side was sense.” . . .

Newspapers ran humorous comments about Dayton similar to today’s ethnic jokes; the New York Times, though, worried that the situation was serious, and trumpeted of “Cranks and Freaks” in a front-page headline. The Times . . . portrayed as zombies the Tennesseans entering the courthouse. . . .

The stereotypes the Scopes trial pinned on Christians eighty years ago show no signs of fading. . . . It’s time to shake off the crippling legacy of the Scopes trial and show the true face of evangelical Christianity to a world more desperate than ever for truth, assurance, and answers.

Source: Excerpt from Marvin Olasky and John Perry’s book, Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial, 2005.

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):


These definitions should help with reading comprehension.

  • antipathy: hostility, anger

Historian Think Aloud

Listen to Professor Joy Williamson read Olasky and Perry's account of the press coverage of the Scopes trial.

Using the Think Aloud

Listen to educator Sam Wineburg explain how to use the Think Aloud in analyzing the document.

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