The many lies from the Scopes trial

The impact of the false reporting of the 1925 Scopes trial still impacts the Darwinian evolution debate today.  Here are a few of the nine lies documented at Mencken’s Mendacity at the Scopes Trial:

First, Mencken lied about the key point at issue in the Scopes Trial, which was not whether the theory of evolution could be taught in Tennessee’s public high schools, but whether the evolution of man from “lower animals” could be taught as a scientific theory to high school students, in a state where a solid majority of parents in the state of Tennessee opposed the teaching of such a theory to their children, on both moral and religious grounds.

Second, Mencken lied by omission, by failing to mention that Hunter’s Civic Biology, a pro-evolution science textbook that was cited at the trial, and which high school teachers in the state of Tennessee were actually required to use at the time, endorsed both racism and eugenics: it taught the the Caucasoid race was “the highest” races, described people with mental handicaps and genetic deformities as “true parasites“, and highly commended the practice of eugenics.

Third, Mencken mis-represented the religious views of William Jennings Bryan, depicting him as a Biblical literalist and a “fundamentalist pope,” when Bryan’s own writings showed that he was a Presbyterian of fairly liberal views, who believed in an old Earth, and who was open to the possibility that plants and animals had evolved by Darwinian natural selection, making an exception only for man.

Fourth, Mencken mendaciously attributed to Bryan the statement that man is not a mammal, when Bryan said nothing of the sort. What Bryan did object to was the portrayal of man in Hunter’s Civic Biology as an unexceptional mammal, “so indistinguishable among the mammals that they leave him there with thirty-four hundred and ninety-nine other [species of] mammals.”

Fifth, Mencken consistently portrayed Bryan as a petty, hate-filled character when others who were present, including Scopes himself, testified to his magnanimity, affability and pleasant personality.


11 thoughts on “The many lies from the Scopes trial”

  1. Very interesting. The whole evolution/creation debate fascinates me. Evolutionists insist for testable evidence of God’s existence, but there is no way they can provide the same requirements to macro-evolution. Evolutionary theory is flawed in several areas, but first and foremost, it is based on the “Scientific Method” which eliminates God from the discussion before the discussion gets started. I don’t mind that from an investigatory standpoint, but since one cannot prove that God is fiction, He also can’t be eliminated as a possibility in Creation.


    1. Excellent points, Jeff. I’m reminded of this quote by atheist scientist Richard Lewontin:

      “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

      It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”


      1. That’s a great quote! I wish I would have had that before. It is now part of my “library.” Thanks!

        On an aside, I wish they would make a QUALITY remake of a movie about the Scopes “Monkey” trial. The first one, which was a good film, was so agenda-driven that it missed a lot.


      2. Yes, that would make a great documentary! And I wish they would allow rebuttal time for the original. Countless kids were forced to watch that movie in public schools.


    2. I would clarify one point: the Scientific Method does not of necessity eliminate God from discussion. The early scientists, including those who came up with the Scientific Method in the first place, typically believed in the Creator God of the Bible; they generally used the Scientific Method to determine how God did things in the present world (not discounting miraculous or supernatural occurrences, such as described in the Creation account, nor for that matter, the conception and resurrection of Jesus), believing Him to be a God of order, as the Bible describes (He “changeth not”, in Lamentations; and “not a shadow of turning” in James, as examples) — thus, they could do the same thing over and over and should get the same results; if they got different results, it must be due to one factor being different, rather than God being capricious.

      It is only when scientists go back one step further and say that everything ****MUST**** be explained without God, that we run into problems. The original scientists accepted that God created everything out of nothing; they would not apply the scientific method to the origin of the universe for two reasons: 1) the Bible does not describe a natural process of the formation of the world and all we see; 2) that was an event in the past that we do not observe in the present, and we can make no experiments upon, thus it violates two of the necessary tenets for the Scientific Method.

      [Forensic science is similar but different. Scientists observe things in the present day, then when they find the same results, assume that what they have observed and tested in the lab holds true for what they observe in the world. For example, they have examined many bodies to see what happens after death — how long does it take for rigor mortis to set in, how long it lasts; when the body starts to stink, how long that lasts; how long it takes for decomposition — in all different types of environments, from swampy wet to desert dry — thus when they find a dead body in a certain condition, they can approximate how long it has been since death, even if they were not there to observe the death, and did no experiments on the body.]

      We weren’t there to observe the beginning of the universe, and can only observe and experiment upon continuing processes; thus, it is out of the realm of science to proclaim that the universe MUST have had a beginning without God. Scientists can hypothesize all they want about the beginning of the universe, and are free to imagine the circumstances necessary for it to happen without God. But it was a one-off event, so to proclaim that it could not possibly have happened with God is not a scientific statement, but actually a religious one.


  2. When my oldest son was in High School his English class watched the film, “Inherit the Wind”‘ He came home and said he just did not see how those people could have been Christians. So I did some research and found out that I really could not find anything in that film that was true. There is a good video called “Inherently Wind” that documents the truth about the Scopes trial.
    I don’t know if they still show that film in schools or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised.


  3. I find it interesting that evolution is basically survival of the fittest. Evolution weeding out the weak and promoting the strongest among us. If this is true, then it seems that people who promote this theory do not even believe it themselves. If they did, then they would be opposed to medical intervention which prolongs the survival of the weak. They would be against intervention for those suffering famine and draughts, as this would again interfere with evolutions remedy to cull the over population of the species and they would be pro war, which is also another way to cull over population. Evolution has no morality or conscience. If you really believe in it, then you cannot have a moral opinion or conscience toward suffering. There are some people who really believe in evolution, these are the people who have no value on life. They favor eugenics. They favor killing off the defective fetus, killing the old and ailing, doing away with the mentally retarded, etc. But most people do not feel this way. So most people do not really believe in the religion of evolution that they say they practice and promote. Just a thought.


    1. Hi Mary – those are excellent points. If you keep the Darwinists talking very long, they will nearly always contradict themselves like that. I’m glad they don’t all want eugenics and such, but it is the logical conclusion of their worldview.


  4. The scientific method cannot prove ANY historical event. The scientific method can only test and prove/disprove processes which can be repeated.

    But, as Scripture reminds us, the unrighteous rebel against and try to over-throw Truth.


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