Barrett: What evolutionists called 'science' at Scopes Monkey Trial

Barrett: What evolutionists called 'science' at Scopes Monkey Trial

May 15th, 2011 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

Everybody knows what the Scopes Monkey Trial was all about, right? The forces of impartial science stooping nobly to enlighten brutes and ignoramuses who doubted evolutionary theory.

But as modern Tennesseans are being portrayed afresh as simpletons for thinking schools shouldn't censor discussions of evolution, global warming and so forth, it behooves us to consider a forgotten bit of the history of that 1925 trial in Dayton, Tenn. Namely, the alleged "science" textbook involved: "A Civic Biology," by one George William Hunter.

Inconveniently for those who like to depict the proceedings as a battle between hillbilly inquisitors and martyrs for truth and light, the good folks at Bryan College in Dayton maintained extensive historical records related to the trial - including a handy copy of Hunter's book.

That's a relief, because otherwise we might not know that the text defended by evolutionists was an abominable exercise in racial bigotry and an endorsement of extreme measures, if not outright violence, against groups deemed by the author to be unfit for society - often because of handicaps or other characteristics over which the groups in question had no control.

Dr. Todd Wood, an associate professor of biology and director of Bryan's Center for Origins Research, helpfully ascertained for me that the eye-popping passages below are contained in "A Civic Biology." So without further ado, let's see what the self-anointed defenders of "science" were promoting as fact nearly nine decades ago just up the road in Dayton:

--From Page 196: "The Races of Man. - At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America."

You read that correctly: The book that evolutionists insisted was appropriate for children in public schools taught overt racial supremacy. I suppose Klan rallies would have kept the tykes up past their bedtimes.

But on we go.

--From Page 261: "Eugenics. - When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, syphilis, that dread disease which cripples and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent children, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science of being well born is called eugenics." (From the Latin for "Nazi scum.")

The author describes families in which "mental and moral defects were present in one or both of the original parents" - and the effects on society of the "parasites" who sprang from such "criminal" unions.

Then, inevitably, he lowers the boom:

--From Page 263: "The Remedy. - If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with success in this country."

O what a model of tolerance the gentle author and biologist was for not recommending slaughterhouses for epileptics and those whose IQs fell short of his incomparable genius. But I trust I needn't spell out what those remedies - or "solutions" - unleashed on "civilized" Europe a few short years after the Scopes Monkey Trial. (I believe one author termed it simply "Night.")

At the time of the trial, not only liberals and evolutionists but many conservatives, too, held the repulsive views promoted in Hunter's book. A pox on all their houses.

But it was conservatives - not liberals and evolutionists - who tried to keep this piece of trash out of the classroom. That was an intrinsically good act, even if opposing white supremacy and barbarity toward the disabled wasn't their motive.

To reach Steve Barrett, call 423-757-6329 or email