WorldNetDaily — The Scopes Trial

Buffoon Award

The Drool-o-tron™ has been very active today because this is the 90th anniversary of the verdict in the Scopes Trial. It seems that all the creationist websites are posting about it.

This time the blinking letters of the wall display of the Drool-o-tron™ said WorldNetDaily (WND). As you know, WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo displayed above this post. Our computer was locked onto this article at WND’s website: People behind the Scopes Monkey Trial.

It was written by William J. Federer, whose essays often appear in WND. Wikipedia says: “He graduated from Saint Louis University in 1980 with a degree in Accounting/Business Administration.”

Federer’s title suggests a novel approach to the subject. He isn’t going to address the merits of Tennessee’s Butler Act, which prohibited that state’s public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of man’s origin, and also forbade teaching the evolution of man, declaring that to be a misdemeanor. Nor will he discuss the scientific merits of the theory of evolution. Instead, he’s going to talk about the people involved in the trial, thus avoiding all the actual issues.

Okay, let’s get started. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Clarence Darrow defended evolution. Darrow previously defended Leopold and Loeb, the homosexual teenage thrill killers who murdered 14-year-old Robert “Bobby” Franks in 1924 just for the excitement. Darrow obtained a pardon for anarchists in 1886 who blew up a pipe bomb in Chicago’s Haymarket Square which killed seven policemen and injured 60 others.

We’ll skip the next few paragraphs about Darrow’s other notorious clients. There’s no doubt that he took on some high profile clients of dubious character, but none of that is relevant to the issues in the Scopes trial. Then he discusses William Jennings Bryan — the Great Populist Blowhard — who acted as prosecutor for Tennessee. We regard him as an altogether loathsome character, as we explained in Let’s Have William Jennings Bryan Day!, where we said:

Bryan also championed the income tax, prohibition, debased currency, and several other idiocies. He was essentially opposed to free enterprise, always favoring increased regulation and government control over the economy. He constantly opposed banks, railroads, and other forms of “big business.”


He also opposed a controversial resolution at the 1924 convention of his party [the Democrats] condemning the Ku Klux Klan, although his apologists say this was purely political, to preserve his support in the South. Even if true, it was shabby. But it’s been noted that Bryan never publicly disparaged the Klan.

Although Federer describes several of Darrow’s controversial clients (subtly tarnishing Darrow with their misdeeds), he never mentions Bryan’s odious political views. Instead he says this:

The attorney defending creation was the Democrat Party’s three-time candidate for president, William Jennings Bryan. Bryan objected to a tooth being presented as proof of humans evolving from apes. Later the tooth was found to be that of an extinct pig.

Aaaargh!! Bryan objected to all of Darrow’s evidence, and all of his expert witnesses, and none of that was allowed into the trial. As for Nebraska Man, a briefly mis-identified fossil, it got a brief but lurid exposure in the press, to which the discoverer objected, and its erroneous description as a pre-human tooth was soon retracted. But it was in the news during the Scopes trial. Nevertheless, TalkOrigins has an article saying that Darrow did not intend to mention it — see The role of “Nebraska man” in the creation-evolution debate. Let’s see what else Federer says:

William Jennings Bryan was a colonel in the Spanish-American War, a U.S. Representative from Nebraska and the U.S. Secretary of State under Democrat President Woodrow Wilson. Bryan edited the Omaha World Herald and founded The Commoner newspaper.

What a great man! [That’s sarcasm, for those who may not realize it.] Federer then treats us to some inane quotes from Bryan’s various speeches. Here are a few:

“But I examined these theories and found that they all assumed something to begin with. … A Designer back of the design – a Creator back of the creation; and no matter how long you draw out the process of creation, so long as God stands back of it you cannot shake my faith in Jehovah. … We must begin with something – we must start somewhere – and the Christian begins with God. …”

Bryan continued: “While you may trace your ancestry back to the monkey … you shall not connect me with your family tree. … The ape, according to this theory, is older than man and yet the ape is still an ape while man is the author of the marvelous civilization which we see about us. … This theory … does not explain the origin of life. When the follower of Darwin has traced the germ of life back to the lowest form … to follow him one must exercise more faith than religion calls for. …”


Bryan added: “But there is another objection. The Darwinian theory represents man as reaching his present perfection by the operation of the law of hate – the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak. … I prefer to believe that love rather than hatred is the law of development…”

There’s a bit more of the same, and that’s all there is to Federer’s essay. So there you have it — the WorldNetDaily view of the Scopes trial. The Deluge of Drool is never-ending.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “WorldNetDaily — The Scopes Trial

  1. michaelfugate

    As per my conversation with Paul Braterman on another thread, Bryan was an OEC, not a YEC. He clearly didn’t believe a day in Genesis was a 24 hour day, but he did believe quite a bit of nonsense like Adam and Eve.

  2. The same gang that thought the world was flat later evolved to become creationists. Stupidity must be an inheritable trait that benefits the common good of the species. My guess being that the dim witted readily assuming the role of cannon fodder. They’ll love this article.

  3. I’m going out on a limb, and suggest that in 1925 it was almost possible to be rational and be an Old Earth Creationist. For one thing, at that time there was no mechanism generally accepted to drive evolution. Although the fact of evolution was generally accepted, it was thought that Mendelism was incompatible with random-variation-plus-natural-selection. Young Earth Creationism was nearly nonexistent. So the choices were OEC and something like Lamarckism.
    Since 1925, as evolutionary made major strides in theory as well as in data. And creationism invented obscurantism in the form of YEC and ID.

  4. Mary L. Mand

    Yes, it was *so* terrible that Darrow believed those accused of a crime deserved good legal representation.

  5. michaelfugate

    Or as Ed Meese put it: “Suspects who are innocent of a crime should [have a lawyer present before police questioning]. But the thing is, you don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That’s contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.”

  6. Mary L. Mand

    I hope that, for his own sake, Ed Meese always has help when he tries to cross a street.

  7. Groan . . . poor Bryan, fated to be remembered more for the idiocies of his old age (he was 65 at the time of the Scopes trial, and not well) than for his better moments in earlier life (he opposed World War I and favored giving women the vote).

  8. Dave Luckett

    I speak under correction, but as I understand it, the original description of the tooth in the “Arkansas man” brouhaha was that it was possible that it was the tooth of a “anthropoid ape”. That meant, in the vocabulary of the time, “man-like”, ie, like the gorilla, chimpanzee and orangutan. It did not mean that this was a human, or a human ancestor, or an ape-man.

    If it had been the tooth of a species like the “anthropoid apes”, so-called, it would have been sensational, of course, since none such have ever been found in the Americas, and there is good reason to suppose that none will ever be.

    In the event, what happened was that a journalist read the description, consulted a pocket dictionary, found that “anthropoid” meant “man-like”, and wrote pure garbage.

    The ancient adage then applied: “A lie can circle the Earth before truth can get its boots on.” And here we are, ninety-odd years later, still having a lie told by our opponents thrown in our faces as if it were the truth. Every fundawhacko knows about Arkansas man. It’s just that what they think they know is pure bovine excrement. And here’s the thing: you can take them by the hand and show them, and it makes not a jot of difference. It takes five or ten minutes to explain the facts; but “Atheist scientists made a false human ancestor up out of a single tooth” is a ten-second grab, which is right at the practical limit of their attention span.

    Honest, sometimes I despair.

  9. Dave Luckett, you mean Arkansas man wasn’t a pre-human fossil?

  10. @The Curmudgeon: Curmie, Arkansas man was before I was born, and I am a human fossil. Therefore, Arkansas man *is* a pre-human fossil. The logic cannot be denied.

  11. It is worth pointing out that the creationist scientist, Georges Cuvier, was famous for identifying an animal from a single bone. Sherlock Holmes, in The Five Orange PIps:
    “As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone”.

  12. Uhm… who or what is this “Arkansas man” everybody keeps talking about? I thought he was Nebraska Man, at least until he became Nebraska Extinct Pig instead?

  13. H. K. Fauskanger asks:

    Uhm … who or what is this “Arkansas man” everybody keeps talking about?

    He is believed to be the last known ancestor of Megalonyx.