The Evolution-Creationism Controversy: A Chronology
13. 7 Billion Years Ago
According to the theory of the Big Bang, as presently understood by most physicists, the approximate date of the creation of our universe.
4.5 Billion Years Ago
Dust and gas condense to form the planet earth. Sometime after this, in a manner scientists do not yet understand, life emerged. 
2.5 Billion Years Ago
Earliest generally accepted date of life (bacteria) existing on earth. Some scientists date bacteria fossils found in Western Australian greenstones to 3.465 billion years.
7 Million Years Ago
Approximately the time when, according to paleontologists, the ancestral lines of modern apes and modern humans diverge; the time of the last common ancestor of man and ape.
October 23, 4004 B.C.
The date of Creation, according to Bishop James Ussher, a seventeeth-century Biblical scholar. 
13th Century B.C.
Moses, a priest and politician who was raised in the court of Pharaoh Ramses II, develops his vision of an all-powerful Creator, "Yahweh."
Circa 1000 B.C. 
The Genesis 2 (Adam and Eve) creation story is written, probably in what is today southern Israel.  The story most likely derives from a story told around campfires by generations of desert dwellers.
Circa 560 B.C.
The Genesis 1 (Six Day) creation story is written, during or soon after the Jews' Babylonian captivity.
Mid-3rd Century B.C.
Seventy-two Jewish scholars, called to Alexandria, Egypt by Ptolemy II, translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek.  The resulting work, the Septuagint, will become the Old Testament of the early Christian Church.
Mid-1st Century B.C. 
Philo Judaeus, a Jew living in Alexandria, writes On Allegory, a book which explored deeper meanings of Old Testament text.  The book, considered the first work of theology, rejected literalistic interpretations of the creation story and set an interpretive path that would be followed a century later by Saint Paul, who more than anyone can be said to have founded the Christian Church.
June 1633
Galileo Galilei is convicted by the Holy Congregation, a panel of cardinals, of teaching that the earth revolves around the sun in violation of an injunction issued against him by the Vatican seventeen years earlier.  The cardinals believed that Galileo's teachings contradicted certain passages (such as Joshua 10:13) in the Bible
Summer of 1650
Bishop James Ussher publishes The Annals of the Old TestamentThe Annals sets the date for creation as October 23, 4004 B.C.  The date becomes widely accepted, appearing as part of a chronology in popular Bibles.
January 15, 1751
Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon is asked by the theology faculty of the Sorbonne in Paris to reputiate his "reprehensible proposition" that the earth was created when a comet collided with the Sun, rather than by God in the manner reported in Genesis.
July 1, 1858
The theory of evolution is announced to thirty attendees at a meeting of the Linnaean Society in London.  The theory is presented in a paper bearing the names of both Charles Darwin and Allfred Russell Wallace.  Wallace had sent a letter to Charles Darwin earlier in the year outlining a theory of evolution which Wallace independently derived.  The letter prompted Darwin to complete his own work on evolution.
November 1859
Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, is published in London.
June 30, 1860
The first celebrated debate on the evolution-creationism controversy takes place at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Oxford.  Thomas H. Huxley, an outspoken champion of Darwin's ideas, and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce offer opposing views as to whether man and ape have a common ancestor.
Charles Darwin publishes his second great work on evolution, The Descent of Man.  Unlike his first work, The Descent of Man makes connections between apes and humans explicit.
Charles Darwin dies and is buried in London's Westminister Abbey.
Discovery of the Burgess Shale outcrop in the Canadian Rockies.  The outcrop becomes the source of tens of thousands of fossils and greatly expands scientificunderstanding of the history of life on earth.
James H. Leuba publishes a survey of religious beliefs of college students and professors.  William Jennings Bryan will later read Leuba's survey and draw from it the conclusion that evolution presents a serious threat to religious beliefs.
George W. Hunter publishes Civic Biology, a textbook designed for high school biology students. The book contains a section on evolution.  It includes racist suggestions and endorses controversial ideas, such as sterilization of epileptics and the mentally feeble, from the then-popular field of eugenics.   The book will be adopted by Tennessee and assigned as reading in the classroom of John Scopes.  The year also marks the inaugural conference of William B. Riley's World Christian Fundamentals Association.
William Jennings Bryan, William B. Riley, John R. Straton, T. T. Martin (and other religious leaders) began a campaign for legislation that will ban the teaching of evolution in public schools.
January 24, 1924
William Jennings Bryan delivers a major speech in Nashville attacking evolution.
January 21, 1925
John Washington Butler introduces a bill in the Tennessee House of Representatives to ban the teaching of evolution in the public schools.  The bill will later become the Butler Act, and will be the basis for the prosecution of John Scopes.
February 1925
Evangelist Billy Sunday holds revival meetings in Tennessee.  He tells rapt crowds, "Education today is chained to the Devil's throne."
March 21, 1925
Tennessee Governor Austin Peay signs the Butler Act, prohibiting the teaching of evolution in the state's public schools.  He expresses the opinion that the law will never be enforced.
April 21, 1925
Scopes discusses with his biology students the section on evolution in Hunter's Civic Biology, according to the later testimony of Superintendent Walter White.  (A student, in his testimony, puts the date as "about the middle of April."  The original indictment identifies the date of his teaching evolution as "the 24th day of April.")
May 1, 1925
The school year ends at the Rhea County High School.
May 3, 1925
The ACLU discusses the Tennessee antievolution act at a board meeting in New York.  The board decides to issue a press announcement that it stood willing to support any teacher that challenged the law's constitutionality.
May 4, 1925
The Chattanooga Daily Times publishes a story reporting that the ACLU is hoping to mount a challenge to the Butler Act and that it is looking for a teacher willing to serve as a defendant in a test case.  The story is read by a Dayton coal plant manager, George Rappalyea. 
May 5, 1925
At a gathering of town leaders at Robinson's drug store in Dayton, George Rappalyea proposes holding a trial that will test the constitutionality of Tennessee's new antievolution law.  Scopes, fetched from a tennis court, comes to Robinson's and indicates his willingness to be a defendant. A warrant is issued for the arrest of John Scopes.
May 6, 1925
In response to a letter from Rappalyea seeking the organization's cooperation in defending John Scopes, the ACLU wires back its willingness to assist with financial help, legal advice, and publicity.
May 9, 1925
At a preliminary hearing, three Rhea County justices of the peace formally bind Scopes to a grand jury.  Law professor John Neal, from Knoxville, appears to represent Scopes, who is released without bond.
May 13, 1925
William B. Riley, founder and head of the World Christian Fundmentals Association, telegraphs William Jennings Bryan, asking him to go to Dayton and join the Scopes prosecution team.  Bryan telegraphs local prosecutors in Dayton expressing his willingness to help.
May 14, 1925
After discussing the matter with journalist H. L. Mencken and others, Clarence Darrow volunteers to join the team defending John Scopes.
May 25, 1925
Seven boys testify to a grand jury that Scopes taught evolution.  Scopes is indicted and his trial is set by Judge John T. Raulston for July 10.
Early June, 1925
John Scopes and his first attorney, John R. Neal, travel to New York to meet with ACLU officials about the upcoming trial.  Scopes states his preference for being represented by Clarence Darrow and Dudley Field Malone.  The ACLU reluctantly agrees to Scopes's choice of lawyers.
July 7, 1925
William Jennings Bryan arrives in Dayton by train from Florida.  That evening, the Progressive Club of Dayton holds a banquet in his honor at the Hotel Aqua.  Sitting with Bryan at the main table is John Scopes.  At the banquet, Bryan declares, "If evolution wins, Christianity goes!"
July 8, 1925
People continue to pour into Dayton in anticipation of the beginning of the Scopes trial.  Among the arrivals are journalist H. L. Mencken, the father of John Scopes, and defense lawyers Dudley Field Malone and Arthur Garfield Hays.
July 9, 1925
More people--lawyers, expert witnesses, reporters, evangelists, and the interested public--arrive in Dayton.  Defense attorney Clarence Darrow arrives from Chicago and is hosted for a banquet at the Hotel Aqua. 
July 10, 1925
The Scopes trial opens in the Rhea County Court House in Dayton.  A jury is selected.
July 13, 1925
Defense lawyers argue that the indictment of Scopes should be thrown out as violative either of the United States or Tennessee constitutions.
July 14, 1925
Lawyers argue over the appropriateness of Judge Raulston's practice of beginning each court session with a prayer.  An angry Judge Raulston appoints a committee to investigate who leaked to reporters the story that he would not grant the defense's motion to quash the indictment on constitutional grounds.
July 15, 1925
The prosecution presents its case against Scopes, calling to the stand the School Board head Walter White and two students of John Scopes.  The defense calls its first witness, zoology professor Maynard Metcalf.  The prosecution argues Metcalf's testimony is irrelevant.
July 16, 1925
Lawyers for both sides debate the issue of whether the defense should be allowed to present expert witnesses.  Memorable speeches on the subject are delivered by William Jennings Bryan and (especially) Dudley Field Malone.
July 17, 1925
Judge John Raulston rules that the defense will not be allowed to present expert testimony on evolution or its consistency with Genesis.
July 20, 1925
Before a crowd of thousands on the courthouse lawn, Clarence Darrow calls William Jennings Bryan as a witness and examines him on the meaning of the Bible and the age of the earth.
July 21, 1925
John Scopes is convicted and sentenced to a fine of $100.  The "monkey trial" comes to an end.
July 26, 1925
William Jennings Bryan dies in his sleep in Dayton, Tennessee.
Mississippi, at the urging of evangelist T. T. Martin, enacts a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in its public schools.
January 17, 1927
The Tennessee Supreme Court overturns the conviction of John Scopes on the technical ground that the fine was set by the judge rather than, as the state constitution required, by the jury. 
Arkansas becomes the third and last state to enact a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution.
In his Encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII declares evolution to be a serious hypothesis that did not contradict essential Catholic teachings.
January 10, 1955
Inherit the Wind, a play loosely based on the Scopes trial and written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee, opens on Broadway.  In the play, Darrow (Henry Drummond) is portrayed as a heroic champion of free speech, while most residents of Hillsboro (Dayton) are portrayed as religious fanatics.
October 4, 1957
Sputnik is launched by the Soviet Union.  The success of the satellite's launch prompts a major evaluation of how science is taught in American schools.  States become much more willing to accept the teaching of evolution in public schools.
The Genesis Flood, a book by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, arguing that the geological record supports the Biblical creation story is published.  The book revives the creationist movement.
May 17, 1967
Tennessee repeals the Butler Act, the law passed in 1925 prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools.
November 12, 1968
The United States Supreme Court holds, in the case of Epperson v Arkansas, state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution to violate the Establishment Clause of the U. S. Constitution.
June 19, 1987
The U. S. Supreme Court rules, in Edwards v Aguillard, that Louisiana's Balanced Treatment Act, requiring public school teachers who teach evolution to also teach "creation-science," is struck down as an "establishment of religion."
Law professor Phillip E. Johnson publishes Darwin on Trial.  The book makes the case against evolution and suggests that if evolution as scientists today envision it is fact, there is no meaningful role left for God.
October 22, 1996
Pope John Paul II tells the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that evolution is "more than a hypothesis" and does not contradict Catholic teaching.  The Pope insists, however, that "souls are immediately created by God" and that theories of evolution that hold the human mind to be a product of evolution are incompatible with "the dignity of the person."
The State Board of Education of Kansas removes evolution from the state's science teaching standards, becoming the first of several states to be battlegrounds in the new evolution-creationism war.

Year 1925
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