Spectators arriving to the University of Memphis this past Tuesday night expected to see a MOCH sponsored presentation at the Rose Theatre. Instead they were ushered into the freshly opened University Center theater where the festivities began. "We are the guinea pigs for this facility," joked MOCH Director Dr. Jonathan Judaken.
Ed Larson, who has written a mountain of research on the subject of Evolution put his finger on what aspect of the debate he was focusing on. "My focus is on the debate over whether or not Evolution is taught in the classroom." Larson took the audience through what he called the three eras of the Evolution debate in America. As he did so he brought up several points about the Scopes Monkey Trial that seemed to be complete revelations to the audience. "This wasn't a small Tennessee town where they wanted to jail the teacher. This was a publicity stunt designed in part to advertise the town of Dayton and mostly to test public perceptions of the new anti-Evolution statutes that were creeping up in several states at that time." "In addition," Larson revealed, "John Scopes, the high school biology professor was far from a teacher whose community wanted to jail him. Before the trial the teacher went on a publicity tour of the big cities in America."
After detailing many of the prime figures in the debate from the twenties to the current period Larson noted that perhaps in modern times there are more people who take the account in Genesis far more literally than they had in the past. Citing that put into perspective the fact that religiously minded anti-Evolutionists are digging their heels in more than ever.
In the Q and A someone asked about how the debate is viewed in other countries. Larson declared, "In most of the world the teaching of Evolution is completely illegal. In a smaller part of the world the Evolution debate is not a debate at all." He made the fact clear that America was a bit unusual due to the fact that, despite our religiosity we are still free to argue the subject and do so with gusto. Those who bemoan the fact that we are taking the anti-Evolution arguments seriously in America can at least see that fact as a glass half full.