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Monkey Business

Publisher: B&H Books • 2005 • 368 pages

Darwinists are smart and creationists are stupid, right? Everyone has known that ever since the notorious Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 — when Clarence Darrow bested William Jennings Bryan in debate and exposed Biblical creationism as nonsense, right? Not only were Tennessee’s laws banning the teaching of evolution overturned; also overturned was the idea that Biblical faith could be compatible with modern science. That’s how the classic movie “Inherit the Wind” tells it, and that’s what happened, right?

Wrong. In reality, the movie — and the popular views that have grown up around it — are more myth than reality. Slanted newspaper reporting (yes, even in 1925) spearheaded by venomous lampooning of Bryan and the creationists by H. L. Mencken set the tone for how the case, and creationists and evolutionists in general, have been viewed by society ever since. But in “Monkey Business,” Marvin Olasky and John Perry finally tell the whole truth about this infamous trial. Working from countless newspaper accounts, interviews with experts, and the official court transcript, which Perry said differs greatly from the story most people know, they uncover a chain of events that is shockingly different from how it has been portrayed.

“It’s not the trial, but the distortion of the trial that had an impact,” says Olasky, the editor-in-chief of World magazine. “The journalistic coverage led to a stereotype in American life of essentially the smart evolutionist vs. the stupid creationist….It was a perfect example of how religious and ideological views of reporters strongly influence their coverage.” Monkey Business explains what really happened at the trial, exploding numerous myths and uncovering facts that will surprise anyone who was taught the view of the case that has prevailed for eighty years now. In doing so, they show how what has crippled the case for creationism in the public mind ever since is based more on fable than fact. In this book they vigorously reassert the reasonableness of creationism.

Beyond the myths, the real truth about the Scopes Monkey Trial:

  • How the entire trial was an ACLU publicity stunt — and defendant John Scopes, who allegedly violated Tennessee law by teaching evolution, couldn’t actually recall ever doing so
  • Seven continuing stereotypes of Christians that emerged from the trial — and carefully reasoned responses to each
  • H.L. Mencken’s malicious but enduring characterization of the “war against the teaching of evolution” as “nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters”
  • How Darwinism has steadily lost its scientific credibility and public funding, and is well on its way to joining Marxism and Freudianism in the dustbin of discarded ideologies
  • Bryan: did he die of a broken heart after failing to make the case for creationism during the Scopes Trial? How this common view flies in the face of the facts
  • How during the trial Bryan stressed Darwinism’s lack of scientific proof, and emphasized its inability to answer questions about how life began, how man began, how one species actually changes into another, and more
  • Darrow’s law partner Dudley Field Malone: how he bested Bryan in the courtroom, but still couldn’t put a serious dent in the idea of creationism
  • How anti-Darwinists have been hampered ever since the Scopes Trial by their association with fundamentalist Christianity — and how creationism as a scientific theory has no connection to Christianity at all
  • Bryan’s awareness that the Trial threatened Christianity’s standing in American culture — and how he attempted to meet that threat
  • Inherit the Wind: while it stands nominally for tolerance and freedom of thought, it is actually full of the self-righteous certainty it decries among Christian creationists
  • How atheistic evolution came to be established dogma in American schools in the wake of the Scopes Trial
  • Journalistic “objectivity”: how the newspapermen assembled for the Scopes Trial once descended upon an outdoor “Holy Rollers” gathering, showering those present with vicious ridicule until the assembled Christians ended their prayers prematurely and left for their homes
  • Phillip E. Johnson: how he has emerged as a new leader of creationists who has developed new ways to focus their intellectual attack against Darwinism
  • Primary documents from the Scopes Trial, including William Jennings Bryan’s never-delivered address defending Tennessee’s law against the teaching of evolution in public schools
  • Plus: sixteen pages of revealing photographs of Scopes, Darrow, Bryan, and the famous trial

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