Question about the creation/evolution controversy...............?

Isn't interesting that some of the earlier opposition to evolution as a theory was actually different from the current controversy over evolution??

Usually(especially in an American context) when people think of the debate over evolution they usually think of it in terms of secular liberals on the one hand who are fine with evolution, and religious conservatives who oppose evolution(and others being in between).

When one looks at the Scopes Monkey Trial though in 1925, that set tone for the creation/evolution controversy, the man who led the opposition to evolution, William Jennings Bryan, is not what one would think of in terms of a religious person who opposes evolution.

He was the former Secretary of State and someone who made a name for himself as an ardent Christian Pacifist, social justice advocate, and liberal leftist. He took a progressive/liberal stance on many things campaigning for things like women's suffrage, was against imperialism, denounced racial violence, and was anti corporate greed. He was particularly famous for resigning from President Woodrow Wilson's Cabinet over entering WWI because of his pacifist beliefs, and denounced the Spanish American War.

His opposition to Darwin's theory stemmed from the social use of it at the time to sanction things like imperialism, racism, etc. Because of this he ended up conflating the science of darwin's theory with it's social use.

So ironically he opposed the theory because of his liberal/pacifist views...


Any thoughts on this weird irony????????

Update 2:

To the people answering.....................I accept evolution. Calm down. A lot of you missed the mark of what I was asking. I wasn't asking whether evolution was a scientific fact or not(which I believe it is).

I am asking isn't it weird that a guy like Jennings Bryan opposed evolution for completely different reasons than many on the religious do today.

Update 3:



11 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Thanks for pointing out the political background of Bryan.

    I disagree that the Scopes trial "set the tone," however--though that trial and its interpretation in the play, "Inherit the Wind," has certainly reverberated through American social attitudes. If you read the last edition of Darwin's "The Origin of Species," you'll see that by 1872 much of the modern creationist argument was stated--and refuted by Darwin--decades earlier. That debate has been frozen on one set of positions for well over a century.

    That edition does, however, contain the seeds of the conflict with Bryan. Between his first and last editions, Darwin had been pushed into the camp of the actively atheist scientists led by Thomas Huxley. It was only in his fifth edition that he allowed the word "evolution" to creep in, having previously resisted it because of possible confusion with Lamarck's earlier notions. (And people who don't understand Darwin's theory continually confuse it with Lamarckian evolution even today--the notion that species are separate creations, by each species adapts and evolves different forms over time.)

    But the real problem is that Darwin had been bullied (as I see it) by Huxley into de-emphasizing the term "natural selection" (which, for atheists, raised the issue of someone doing the selecting) and accepting as an alternate description the notion of "survival of the fittest," which had been bouncing around in social philosophies before Darwin's first edition. (Note the date on the Dickens quote below.) That notion came from Herbert Spencer, the primary driver of the social notions Bryan was opposing. And this political strain of thinking, as you correctly observe, seems to have switched its associations with respect to discussion of evolution.

    There is one more American angle to the history of arguments over evolution: the eminent scientist Louis Agassiz led the American opposition (as the botanist Asa Gray led the American support). Agassiz, who was the primary discoverer of the prehistoric cycle of Ice Ages, believed that each one had wiped out all life on earth, and afterward God had each time created life again in new and better species--a sort of series of divine beta tests. Gray may have been the one who persuaded Darwin to include in his book the point that the sequence of ice ages actually solved one of the problems in explaining the modern distribution of some species, and to credit Agassiz directly.

    “Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”

    -- Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol" (1843)

    It has become customary to blame the reactionary Agassiz for the delayed acceptance of Darwinian theory in the United States. But Darwin’s correspondence with Asa Gray shows that in fact the opposite was true: rather than slowing the triumph of evolution in the United States, Agassiz’s surprisingly emotional, scattershot opposition to any theory that smacked of developentalism helped focus Gray’s promotional efforts on Darwin’s behalf.

    -- Christoph Irmscher, "Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science"

  • 7 years ago

    There has been no 'controversy' regarding the facts and science of evolution for well over 100 years.

    What you are talking about is what was inaccurately called SOCIAL Darwinism, which was a socioeconomic load of claptrap invented by the rich to try to justify screwing the poor all the harder. Evolution being a scientific fact has NOTHING whatsoever to do with that sociopolitical ideology.

    W. J. Bryan was a religion besotted old idiot, whose actual objections to evolution were all quite religious in their nature. There are several excellent histories of the case, I suggest that you read at least one of them. One of Bryan's in-court lines was 'I believe in the Rock of Ages, not in the age of rocks'. That's a 100% religious view.

  • DrJ
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    I understand your question but disagree with the premise. I know quite a bit about the Scopes trial. Look at the transcript when Darrow interrogated Bryan. It had everything to do with what Bryan thought of several biblical "miracles" versus what was possible. Bryan was asked what he thought about the age of rocks, and responded that he was more interested in the rock of ages. Darrow pushed Bryan, who was elderly and not that well, into admitting he didn't think about much of the world, and in one famous sentence, Bryan admitted "I do not think about things I don't think about." Darrow then asked if he thought about things he did think about... and the answer was "Sometimes". There was laughter in the court and it exposed Bryan for what he was. Although Scopes was found guilty, the verdict was overturned on a technicality about the fine that was given.

  • 5 years ago

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  • 5 years ago

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  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    There's a controversy??? Not in professional science. Only here between idiots.

    Its like saying there is now a debate over democracy or monarchical absolutism.

  • 7 years ago

    This is one man’s response to Geewiz:

    “Every fossil by definition is transitional. Also, Evolutionary Theory has evolved far past Darwins ideas. Why Christian idiots keep bringing him up really supports the negative correlation between Christians and intelligence.”

    “Every fossil by definition is transitional”? Now I see how the theory works. It’s based on a new definition of the word “fossil”.

    Now why would evolution theory have to evolve past Darwin’s ideas? I guess when his ideas were wrong and therefore the scientists that supported them were wrong, the theory, not supported by the observed science, had to evolve. The latest “evolution” in the theory is the new ad hoc theory regarding soft tissue in dinosaur bones. After decades of evolution scientists telling us that since dinosaurs died out millions of years ago, there was no sense in checking for soft tissue because it would have decayed long ago, and besides, the bones are all fossilized so they would never have any soft tissue in them to begin with; now they tell us they were wrong--again--and then quickly decreed that soft tissue will not decay after 65 million years. How does one prove that without a 65 million-year old test? I guess the easiest way to handle the situation is to simply change the definition of soft tissue so that “by definition, it never decays”.

    And then finally we get to see the most compelling persuasive logical argument the evolutionist has in their linguistic arsenal: the ad hominem (usually accompanied with the argumentum ad populum). Just because fear of insults and name calling works on you guys as a mode of persuasion when formulating your theories, opinions and world view doesn’t mean it works on everyone else. God bless you anyway for trying (1Pet 3:9).

    Look, even atheists are jumping off that constantly evolving evolution sinking pseudoscience ship. How can you say there is no controversy? The controversy is over the number of atheists bailing out. Is it in the hundreds of thousands or millions?

  • 7 years ago

    There is no controversy. Evolution is observed fact, Evolutionary Theory is as close to fact, and creationism is utter garbage. This has already been exposed by the creation "science" propaganda where they try to redefine "scientific theory" because it does not work with their imaginary friend.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    Most critics of evolution fail to understand what evolution is. The controversy is only in the minds of the ignorant....

  • anon
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Darwins worst fears

    the absence of transitional fossils and the cambrian explosion ends the controversy

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