The Scopes Trial Redux

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In Tennessee a new law goes into effect today that will allow public school teachers to teach alternatives to such scientific topics as evolution and climate change. The bill is being called the "monkey bill," a reference to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. In the original trial a teacher named John Scopes was prosecuted by the State of Tennessee for violating a state law banning the teaching of evolution. The new “monkey bill” encourages teachers to “present the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.” This law is bringing with it a lively debate between those who believe that some scientific theories like evolution and the human role in climate change are not up for debate, and those who do.

Josh Rosenau is the programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, a non-profit that defends the teaching of evolution and climate science in public schools. Nelson Turner is a teacher at The Woodland Middle School in Brentwood, Tennessee. Nelson has taught 7th grade general science for 15 years.