Keeping Scientific Controversy in Your Home School

Contributor: Kathi Thomas. Lesson ID: 11053

Can your students defend their beliefs when proponents of evolution try to make a monkey out of them? Is it right to teach viewpoints hostile to the Bible? Read on and prepare yourselves for battle!


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The Scopes Monkey Trial of July, 1925 was the first major challenge to the teaching of creationism in the public schools.

John Thomas Scopes was found guilty of breaking Tennessee law, because he taught his students the theory of evolution. This violated a statute passed the previous March, making it a misdemeanor — punishable by fine — to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and, instead, to teach that man descended from a lower order of animals.

During the course of the trial, the prosecuting attorney, William Jennings Bryan, was publicly humiliated when the defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, made Bryan his sole witness, and Bryan was unable to respond to Darrow's questioning about the literal translation of the Bible without contradicting himself. Although Bryan won the trial, Darrow had intentionally set the case up for appeal, and Bryan never recovered from the disgrace, dying just 5 days after the trial ended. (Read more at's Monkey Trial begins.)

Interestingly, the constitutional element of this case wasn't actually settled until 1968, when the Supreme Court ruled against a similar Arkansas law on the grounds it violated the First Amendment.

However, the teaching of creationism in the modern public school has become almost non-existent in the years that have followed the Scopes trial, in spite of its outcome. The Scopes Monkey Trial of July 1925 was the first major challenge to the teaching of creationism in the public schools.

Christians have tough choices for their children’s education, and due to the fact that many want their children to learn the biblical explanation of the creation of mankind, homeschooling has grown in popularity among this group.

With that in mind, why advocate for the teaching of evolutionary theory in the homeschool?

No matter how devout the student and his or her family, completely ignoring the teaching of evolution is a dangerous educational path because eventually, somewhere in time, the student will be confronted with the secular worldview of human existence. The repercussion of not learning both sides is a lack of preparedness of the student when faced with the challenge of defending his or her beliefs.

Recent news articles have highlighted so-called “safe spaces” on college campuses around the United States and other parts of the world.

Supposedly, these areas are protecting students from the harmful, oppressive ideas of others but, in actuality, these “safe spaces” are nullifying the First Amendment rights of students and serving to prevent students from really understanding the viewpoints of their peers.

In not allowing respectful argumentation on both sides of controversial topics, colleges are encouraging and perpetuating the practices of stereotyping, name-calling, and bullying.

"Safe spaces" do not promote understanding because there is no dialog taking place. Furthermore, the mere idea of "safe spaces" encourages the notion that people must hide if they are being bullied for thinking or feeling a way that is not the accepted social norm.

These are not realistic life lessons for anyone on either side of the confines of these spaces. The world is not a “safe space” where everyone will espouse the same beliefs, and a generation of young people who cannot articulate rational reasoning is quickly becoming the generation who becomes disillusioned when the circumstances of life aren’t cooperating with their ideologies.

Likewise, the Christian homeschool that does not expose children to contrary arguments runs a very real risk of not equipping the student for challenges to the Christian faith. William Jennings Bryan, as sincere and genuine as he was in his belief in God, was simply not prepared to respond when Darrow called his faith in the validity of the Bible into question.

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