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