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Evolution on Trial

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posted on Mar, 31 2008 @ 10:31 AM
This past summer marked the 82nd Anniversary of the infamous Scopes “Monkey
Trial” in Dayton, Tennessee, where biology teacher John Scopes was convicted for
teaching evolution in a public high school in 1925. Today, the debate over teaching
evolution in the public school science classroom still rages. Religious Right activists
continue to push creationist agendas in many communities around the country, and with
some success.

Tennessee v. John Scopes, Trial in 1925, in Dayton, Tennessee, of a 24 year old high school biology teacher who taught the theory of evolution. The teacher, John Thomas Scopes (1900-1970), was accused of having violated the Butler Act, a Tennessee law that banned the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools because it contradicted the account of creation in the Bible, introduced by John Washington Butler second term member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. The trial received worldwide media hype and was conducted in a circus like atmosphere. The press called it the “Scopes Monkey Trial” because, according to popular belief, evolution meant that humans were descended from monkeys. Tennessee was not the first to pass such legislation, “in 1923 Oklahoma passed a bill banning the use of all school text that included evolutionist instruction and Florida did the same declaring it improper to teach Atheism or Agnosticism, or to teach as true, Darwinism, or any other hypothesis that links man in a blood relationship to any other form of life.”(1)

Clarence Darrow, one of America's leading criminal lawyers, appeared for the defense pro bono, also on the side of the defense was New York lawyer and co-counsel Dudly Field Malone, Scopes’ lawyer John Randolph Neal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who actually instigated the trial by guaranteeing legal and financial assistance to any teacher who would test the new law. The ACLU is an organization “committed” to defending the individual rights and freedoms of all people in the United States. The ACLU works to protect the civil liberties granted by the Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights through legal action,
legislation, and public education. The independent union provides lawyers and legal advice for individuals and groups involved in local, state, and federal court cases. It also leads numerous campaigns to extend more rights to people who have traditionally been denied them, including the rights of children, prisoners, homosexuals, and people with mental illness. (2) Typically by filing friend-of-the-court briefs; in such a brief, the ACLU advises the court on issues in relation to civil liberties but does not provide legal counsel for either the defendant or plaintiff. ACLU briefs have influenced the outcome of a lot of trials. This is also what the local F. O. C. does in regards to Child Support cases.

For the prosecution was Former U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan invited by the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association (Now Defunct), Circuit Attorney General Arthur Thomas Stewart and William Jennings Bryan Jr. a Los Angeles lawyer and the Former U.S. Secretary’s son.

The prosecution’s strategy was straightforward. It was not interested in debating the value or wisdom of the butler law, only in proving that John Scopes had broken it. (1)

The defense argued for the scientific validity of evolution and against the constitutionality of the Butler Act, but it did not deny that Scopes had broken the law. He was convicted and fined $100 paid by the Baltimore Sun, but the verdict was later reversed on procedural grounds by the state Supreme Court stating that the jury should have set the fine and not the judge.

The Butler Act remained until 1967. Since then, a series of court decisions has barred creationists’ efforts to have their theory taught in public schools, many of these cases involved the ACLU arguing against the freedom of speech of the Christian Fundamentalists’ and for the separation of church and state. The debate rages on currently about the theory of “Intelligent Design” which is not the same as creationism although similar to anyone who has not actually looked at it.

Creationism is the theory of Devine Creation of the human species and all life. The book of Genesis reports the creation of the Earth with absolute geological accuracy; Minerals then Plants then Animals; first fish then birds then larger mammals and science does not dispute this simplified chronology. In 1987 Molecular Biologist Douglas Wallace and his colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley, reached the conclusion (Through DNA Testing) that all of the people on Earth are descendants of a single woman who lived around 200,000 years ago.
Mitochondria, with their own simple DNA that is not affected by sexual mixing, come from our mothers only. Your mitochondria came exclusively from your mother’s mother’s mother--and so on, back generation after generation, to the beginning of our species. The culture of mitochondria in the female egg seeds a newborn’s body, while whatever mitochondria might be in the sperm are lost with the tail at the time of egg fertilization. The female-only transmission of mitochondria, coupled with its slow rate of genetic mutation, make its DNA ideal for tracing and dating maternal ancestry.
They used computers to analyze samples of DNA drawn from 135 diverse women from all over the globe—Chinese, African natives, Australian Aborigines, Native Americans, and Europeans. The researchers discovered that the family trees of these women all led back to Africa. Remarkably, the analysis demonstrated that genetic differences among the various people within Africa all are twice as great as the differences between all other population groups. This strongly suggests that all the population groups outside Africa are descended from a small band of humans that left Africa—probably about 50,000 to 80,000 years ago.

The ancestral human population that lived in Africa started to split up roughly 150,000 years ago, when the mitochondrial tree makes its first branches within the African continent. The very root of the mitochondrial tree seems to lie in the northwestern Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. The true home of Eve—Mitochondrial Eve—is not a lush Garden of Eden, but a hot African desert. The mitochondrial research matches nicely with recent genetic research using the Y chromosome, transmitted exclusively by males, which also points to southern Africa as the home of Adam. Unlike the Genesis version of human origins, however, the Y chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve that our genetic trees trace back to did not have the planet to themselves—there probably were thousands of other humans living at the time. Moreover, other humans had lived and died long before they did. All we know is that these two humans, alone among the population of their time, can claim an unbroken line of sons and daughters that persists to this day.
To quote a famous biologist:

Biological evolution ... is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions."
-- Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates 1986

or, to quote someone less famous, but more succint:
evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next.
-- Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, Biology 5th ed. 1989 Worth Publishers, p.974

An allele is just a specific variation of a gene. We all have genes for eye color, but we aren't all the same, because some people have one allele, some have another.

So, the observation that a gene pool has changed, means that one has observed biological evolution. And then we would want a theory to explain or predict that change.

Darwin's theory was about The Origin of Species. So, what is a species? That's not part of the context of this paper, but the short answer is: a species is a set of creatures which, in their natural setting, breed among themselves.

If a new species comes into existence, we would call that speciation - the opposite of extinction. If species A gives rise to species B and C, then A is the common ancestor of B and C. (This in no way implies that A is extinct. B and C are quite likely to have arisen from geographically isolated groups of A-s.)

Darwin said that evolution and speciation happened because of natural selection, sometimes incorrectly called survival of the fittest. The point is not at all who survives: the point is that the variations between individuals may change how many descendants they get to have. Survival of the fittest has incorrectly been accused of being a redundancy.

Darwin said that natural selection worked because creatures have variation. It being 1859, he didn't know why there was variation. Today, we know that it comes from the many possible combinations of genes. And, it comes from mutations, which are caused by mis-operation of the mechanisms that copy genetic information.

Finally, Darwin said that natural selection had gradually caused all lifeforms on Earth to have evolved from a single common ancestor. That is more or less Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Now, 147 years later, we have a Modern Synthesis of the Theory of Evolution. It's fairly similar to Darwin's, but more detailed. And the emphasis has shifted away from organisms and individuals. In the 1930's it became more mathematical, and the ideas became more about genes and populations. In the last few decades, there has been new emphasis on symbiosis and on mass extinctions.

Intelligent Design is the theory promoting the intervention of “superior beings” Genetically engineering the human species from lower primates and some of their own genes into what we are now, Homo Sapiens Sapiens the most prolific writers on this theory are or have been, Zecharia Sitchen, self described as a Russian Linguist and Archeologist and Erich von Daniken of Chariots of the Gods fame, also promoting this theory are Jonathan Wells, Ph.D. a biologist, and Michael J. Behe, Ph.D. a biochemist and William A. Dembski, with Ph.D.s in mathematics and philosophy. How or when this theory became popular I have no clue. They have used cave drawings, the Bible and many other ancient writings to back up this theory.
Most biologists have concluded that the proponents of intelligent design display either ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation of evolutionary science. Yet their proposals are getting a hearing in some political and educational circles and are currently the subject of a debate within the Ohio Board of Education. (3)

At present there is not enough evidence to unequivocally prove any of these three theories. The popularity of the theory of creationism does not rely on proof but on faith and the theory of evolution is currently taught as fact by law. I really do not see any conflict between the two theories.

The notion that science and religion are irreconcilable centers in large part on the issue of evolution. Charles Darwin, in his 1859 book The Origin of Species, explained that the myriad species inhabiting Earth were a result of repeated evolutionary branching from common ancestors.

One would be hard pressed to find a legitimate scientist today who does not believe in evolution. As laid out in a cover story in the November issue of National Geographic magazine, the scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming.

Yet in a 2001 Gallup poll 45 percent of U.S. adults said they believe evolution has played no role in shaping humans. According to the creationist view, God produced humans fully formed, with no previous related species.

But what if evolution is God's tool? Darwin never said anything about God. Many scientists—and theologians—maintain that it would be perfectly logical to think that a divine being used evolution as a method to create the world.


To quote Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), "Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium", 1941:”
Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

1. © 2004 The Unfinished Nation, Alan Brinkley
2. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia

posted on Apr, 1 2008 @ 08:15 AM
Evolution isnt a science its a theory. I have no arguments with evolution being taught as a theory what so ever, i think it creates debate and helps us question ourselves even further and its through this questioning that we discover and advance.

As for the theory itself let me use a quote. Charles Darwin (Mr Evolution himself) said if his theory was true there would be millions of transistional forms.... Where are they?

The fact remains that there is no evidence in any form which states that evolution exists, it has never been witnessed or documented ever!

As for your comment regards that a majority of scientists today believe in evolution is incorrect, it is the minority. A majority state that evolution is a plausable theory but scientifically cannot be proven and therefore cannot be supported.

The thing with evolutionists is that every time their theory is proven wrong they adapt it/twist it in there favour. I have lost count of how many reports and articles i have seen which has flunked evolution, i am beginnning to think evolutionists are in some form denial. they have never stoppped to question that just maybe there are somethings science cant explain

[edit on 1-4-2008 by Bys0n]

posted on Apr, 1 2008 @ 01:17 PM

Originally posted by Bys0n
Evolution isnt a science its a theory.

Indeed it is a scientific theory.. like the theory of gravity and the theory of relativity.

So does that mean you think gravity should be ommited from science class as well?

posted on Apr, 1 2008 @ 08:32 PM
Shall we define how the word Theory is used in this rant?

The word theory has a number of distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge, depending on their methodologies and the context of discussion.

In science, a theory is a mathematical or logical explanation, or a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise verified through empirical observation. It follows from this that for scientists "theory" and "fact" do not necessarily stand in opposition. For example, it is a fact that an apple dropped on earth has been observed to fall towards the center of the planet, and the theories commonly used to describe and explain this behavior are Newton's theory of universal gravitation (see also gravitation), and the theory of general relativity.

In common usage, the word theory is often used to signify a conjecture, an opinion, or a speculation. In this usage, a theory is not necessarily based on facts; in other words, it is not required to be consistent with true descriptions of reality. This usage of theory leads to the common incorrect statements. True descriptions of reality are more reflectively understood as statements which would be true independently of what people think about them.


The point I am trying to make here is that Evolution and Creation are not mutually exclusive.

[edit on 1-4-2008 by RedmoonMWC]

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