“Reporters representing national news media say that Dayton is little changed. They wonder what Dayton has planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Scopes Trial. Dayton, in return, wonders what it is expected to celebrate.” – Martha Garland, columnist for the Dayton Herald July 17, 1975.1

As the humid air began to breeze across the Tennessee Valley in the summer of 1975, the residents of the small town of Dayton collectively held their breath in anticipation. Fifty years prior, the eyes of the nation had momentarily turned toward this unassuming section of East Tennessee for what was then heralded as the “Trial of the Century,” an event from which many in Dayton believed their town had never quite recovered. In 1925, the state of Tennessee tried a Rhea County high school teacher who was eventually found guilty of teaching evolution in his biology classroom, a crime that directly violated the recently passed Butler Act, which forbade evolutionary teaching in all public schools in the state. Although popular history remembers State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes mostly for the high-profile celebrities that represented both the defense and prosecution, Dayton still felt the lasting effects of the trial even fifty years after Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan departed from the Dayton train depot, the former to his home in Chicago and the latter to Arlington National Cemetery.2 “Bryan died five days after the trial; Darrow died in 1938; and Scopes died in 1970,” the Dayton Herald boldly informed its readers in an article commenting on the few meager commemorative events planned for the fiftieth anniversary. “It was more their trial than it was Dayton’s.”3

While the flat plateau of Middle Tennessee might seem a world away from the mountains of the eastern part of the state, the mood in the capitol building in Nashville was surprisingly similar to that in Dayton in 1975. Two years before, on April 30, 1973, the state of Tennessee passed the mundane-sounding “Chapter 377 of the 1973 Public Acts of Tennessee,” known officially as the “Theory and Fact Law.” This law mandated that all biology textbooks used in Tennessee public schools which discussed any theory “about origins or creation of man and his world” must give equal time to other theories, “including, but not limited to, the Genesis account in the Bible.”4 In other words, Tennessee had again revived the exact same issue that brought it so much negative attention in 1925 with the Butler Act: evolution in public schools. This time, however, they were not outlawing evolution. Instead, they were instituting the nation’s first “equal time” law, requiring biology teachers statewide to give equal attention to all theories of creation, even that of the Bible. This law, nicknamed the “Genesis Bill,” did not last long. In 1975, a few months before Dayton held its halfhearted fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Scopes Trial, a US District Court ruled the “Theory and Fact Law” unconstitutional.

No one was more disappointed in the District Court’s decision to overturn the Genesis Bill than Dr. Russell Artist, a biology professor at David Lipscomb College in Nashville.5 Since the late 1950s, Artist had spearheaded his own campaign to get creationist textbooks approved by the Tennessee Textbook Commission for use in public schools. Dr. Artist was both a minister in the Church of Christ and a devoted scientist with a doctorate in biology. He was also a member of several creationist societies, the author of his own creationist biology textbook, and an active leader in the push for the Genesis Bill. It is highly unlikely that the Tennessee House or Senate would have proposed any type of “equal time” legislation without Artist’s influence. His connections with national creationist organizations—as well as sympathetic members of the Tennessee legislature—certainly helped. When the Genesis Bill finally became law in 1973, Artist felt an incredible sense of accomplishment. “It is time that men of science who would like to restore the trustworthiness of Scripture in matters of science should be heard,” he proclaimed in a letter written ten days before the bill’s passage.6

Tennessee’s Genesis Bill was a crucial milestone for creationism in the United States for two reasons. First, the bill represented the earliest successful legal step in the shift from biblical to scientific justifications against teaching evolution.7 Although the Genesis Bill was not an antievolution bill like the Butler Act was fifty years prior, it reflected a growing trend within the creationist movement toward relegating evolution to the level of an unprovable theory, thus making evolution equal to other creation theories such as the biblical account. It called into question the perceived dogmatism associated with evolutionary teaching, setting the stage for creationist arguments that evolution, like Christianity, was a philosophical and inherently faith-based concept. The Genesis Bill demonstrated a fundamental shift in creationism that had been taking place for decades after the Scopes Trial. The Bible alone no longer provided a viable reason for proposing legislation against the teaching of evolution in 1973. Scientific rationale was more important, due in part to the renewed interest in scientific teaching brought on by the Cold War and exemplified by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) textbook standards implemented in the early 1960s. Second, the Genesis Bill was the first version of an “equal time” law passed by a state legislature. Intended to go into effect in 1975, exactly fifty years after the Scopes Trial and only eight years after the state lifted its ban against evolution placed by the Butler Act, a federal court overturned the law and the Genesis Bill’s textbook regulations never saw the light of day.

Despite the Genesis Bill’s historical importance, scholars have written very little about it outside the legal realm. Law journals have published the only studies specifically addressing the Genesis Bill, and thus these works have focused solely on its constitutional aspects and the court cases that followed.8 The most comprehensive history of creationism, historian of science Ronald Numbers’s The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, fails to mention the bill, despite its otherwise thorough treatment of the creationist movement.9 One notable exception is legal historian Edward J. Larson’s 1985 work, Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution.10 While Larson devotes only a few pages to the Genesis Bill, his analysis nevertheless provides the groundwork for further studies by placing the bill into the larger context of “equal time” laws following the Epperson v. Arkansas ruling in 1968. Epperson v. Arkansas was important, Larson asserts, because it ruled that laws prohibiting the teaching of evolution were unconstitutional. This included Tennessee’s Butler Act, which was struck down the year prior. This forced creationism advocates to change their tactics if they wanted creationist theories to be taught in public school classrooms. Larson views the Genesis Bill as the “first breakthrough” in the movement to “require the classroom presentation of creationist religious concepts as a foil to evolutionary teaching.”11

Tennessee’s quickly forgotten Genesis Bill did more to shape the controversy over creationism in the classroom than any other court decision or creation bill that sprouted up across the country throughout the 1970s and 1980s. But why, nearly fifty years after the state experienced such universally negative publicity surrounding the Scopes Trial, did Tennessee resurrect a controversy that would reinforce the exact same stereotypes that harmed their image so badly in 1925? With H. L. Mencken’s scathing portrayals of backward, superstitious, holy-rolling Tennesseans undoubtedly flashing through their minds, the state legislature’s vote for the Genesis Bill forced Tennessee to confront the memory of the Scopes Trial, reopening a wound that still had not fully healed after fifty long years. This time, however, the scenery had changed somewhat. Instead of the dusty small-town streets of Dayton, David Lipscomb College’s picturesque campus in the bustling urban capital of Nashville provided the backdrop for yet another old-fashioned Tennessee evolution debate.

I. Russell Artist’s Tennessee Campaign for Creation

“What’s the matter with the evolutionists that they can’t stand a scrutiny by honest scientists? We’re not telling them not to teach it — let them teach it all they want. The more it is taught, the better we can point out the difficulties.” – Russell Artist in The Tennessean, April 30, 1973

Four men sat huddled around a Nashville restaurant table in the summer of 1972. Two were ministers in the Church of Christ, one was a state senator from a small city in the northernmost corner of West Tennessee, and the fourth was a gravely concerned biology professor on a personal mission to save the minds and souls of Tennessee’s schoolchildren. Dr. Russell Artist came to this informal meeting with an idea, one that he had cultivated in various forms for well over a decade. As he sat across from Senator Milton Hamilton of Union City that day, he likely knew this could be his best chance yet to see his idea realized.12 It was this conversation, born over cups of coffee and some small-talk, that eventually led to the passage of a bill that would resurrect a part of Tennessee’s past many of its residents would rather forget.

Almost fifty years earlier, Dayton played host to a very similar scene. Some of the town’s influential business leaders met each other at Robinson’s Drug Store on a hot day in late spring, sipping Coca-Colas and chatting excitedly about an ad the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) placed in the Chattanooga Times on May 4, 1925. The ACLU was searching for a Tennessee teacher willing to test out the newly-passed Butler Act which prohibited the teaching of evolution in state schools. When Dayton businessmen saw the ACLU’s offer, they saw dollar signs. Crowded around a small round table in the center of the drug store, Dayton’s business boosters plotted a media event they thought would surely put their little town on the map for good.13 While the memory of the Scopes Trial had already moved to folklore status by 1972, there is little doubt that it weighed on Russell Artist’s mind as he and Senator Hamilton sat in the Nashville restaurant planning their more modern assault on evolutionary teaching. They wanted to proceed with caution, shying away from another media circus. They did not want the ghosts of Dayton rising again to haunt their state.

Despite the risks involved, Russell Artist was entirely devoted to his cause of bringing the evolution debate back home to Tennessee. Born in Francisville, Indiana in 1911, Artist earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Butler University in 1939. He studied at the University of Minnesota during the 1940s, eventually receiving a PhD in biology with a specialization in botany.14 He left behind no indication that he was particularly religious during his early days, and he described his parents as having raised him in a “nominal Christian home.”15 According to Artist, the defining moment of his life came when he was teaching at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah between 1945 and 1947. Writing in the third person, he described in a biographical piece how he underwent a religious awakening at age 35. “While teaching in Utah he gained a new concept of science as a revelation of God rather than a contradiction of God as his former materialistic theories had held,” he narrated. After this change in his scientific and religious outlook, “he determined to dedicate his life to helping other people to approach science studies from this point of view.”16

Artist’s transformation was particularly notable because of his affiliation with a church that had relatively little history debating the merits or the evils of evolutionary theory. It was an affiliation that three of the four men who met to discuss the problem of evolution at the Nashville restaurant in 1972 shared: membership in the Church of Christ. Begun in the early nineteenth century as part of the broader Restoration Movement dedicated to a “restoration of the ancient gospel,” the Church of Christ preached Biblical literalism and the belief that they “were to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”17 They eschewed traditional denominations and instead believed their church was both a direct continuation and a particularly American renewal of the New Testament church. Even today, the Church of Christ generally considers itself outside and above the more conventional theological disputes that have shaped other denominations, such as the rise of fundamentalism in the early twentieth century. Members identify themselves simply as “Christians.”18

Wary of labels, denominational or otherwise, Church of Christ members nevertheless fell on the conservative side of most issues, and evolution was no exception. Biblical literalism was one of the few common threads that held the Church of Christ together as a cohesive body of believers, and for members like Russell Artist this literalism certainly included the Genesis account of creation. The antievolution movement was most prominently made up of conservative protestant Christians who identified themselves as fundamentalists, a movement begun in the early twentieth century that traditionally, albeit incorrectly, has been understood to have retreated from its activism after the Scopes Trial in 1925.19 Despite the fact that the church shared with fundamentalism a staunch commitment to Biblical literalism, neither the Church of Christ nor Artist self-identified as fundamentalist.20

“I believe firmly that there is a God,” Russell Artist wrote in his first major publication on creation; “Science both admits and accepts this inference.”21 In many ways, Artist was emblematic of the new type of creationist that emerged in the decades after 1925. Whereas the antievolutionists who fought so vehemently against Darwinian evolution in the 1920s arrived at their conclusions from an almost strictly Biblical viewpoint, seeing evolution as a danger because it challenged the literalist reading of Genesis that fundamentalists so cherished, Artist and his contemporaries in the late 1950s and 1960s approached the issue from a different angle. While these creationists held strong religious beliefs, many had also earned advanced scientific degrees. Instead of a movement led largely by fundamentalist preachers whose primary resource in the fight against evolution was the Bible, these men focused instead on proving that the Genesis account of creation and evolution were equally valid theories that could be explained in scientific terms. The entire movement shifted from “antievolutionist” to “creationist”—from being against evolution to being for creation. It was a change reflected in more than just their terminology.

The heightened Cold War paranoia of the 1950s necessitated this shift within creationism. It was no accident that the Soviet Union’s launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 prompted an immediate reevaluation of scientific teaching standards in public schools. If America was ever going to catch up with Soviet technology, President Eisenhower reasoned, then a massive overhaul of the education system, including a renewed emphasis on science, must take place. It was in this Cold War context that the National Science Foundation started funding the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) in 1959. The BSCS, as Edward Larson describes, “set about rewriting high-school textbooks, and the leading biologists serving on the Study boldly embraced evolution. The appearance of the BSCS texts in the early sixties shattered the thirty-year truce in legal activities enveloping the antievolution issue.”22 While the BSCS textbooks ushered evolution into public schools across the country, they also elicited a backlash from creationists. In 1961, creationists Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb released what would eventually become the most widely-read book on creationism, The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications, recharging the public evolution debate for a new era.23

Two years before Morris and Whitcomb published The Genesis Flood, Russell Artist drafted his own creationist textbook for use in the biology classes he taught at David Lipscomb College in 1959. The book was Artist’s attempt at dispelling the belief that the creationists of the 1950s were the same as the antievolutionists of the 1920s. “I am writing this textbook because I feel that it is needed,” Artist revealed in its introduction.24 An article on the textbook in The Nashville Tennessean stated that “Christian men of science like Dr. Artist believe that a Christian approach to scientific studies and research can mean more to the world than rocket ships that may eventually go to the moon.”25 The use of the phrase “Christian men of science” to describe Artist and his cohort was particularly telling, illustrating the vital connection creationist scientists made between their scientific credentials and their faith in the Genesis creation account. This statement also reflected the Cold War tensions inherent in any discussion of science education during this period, with Artist flatly denying that the immediate concern over Sputnik and the Soviet space program mattered more in the long-term than preserving Christian faith within the sciences.

By the time the BSCS textbooks finally received approved for use in public schools in 1963, Artist had used his own biology book, one that utilized what he termed a “two-model approach,” presenting both evolution and the Genesis account of creation, for four years. Since David Lipscomb College was a private Church of Christ-affiliated university, however, he experienced no real resistance to his methods. In a report written in 1963, Artist discussed the status of evolutionary teaching in Tennessee. He argued that, in most colleges, “only in little ‘islands’ of influence is any remonstration made concerning the theory. In none of these do I find a flat denial or an unreasonable avoiding of examination of the claims of evolution doctrine; rather, there is on the part of most of these a determination to see both sides of the issue expressed.” In a particularly candid lamentation of the state’s storied history, he concluded the piece by charging that “the film Inherit the Wind has done little to raise up an attitude of serious inquiry into the merits of either side but it has, in my opinion, done damage to both sides. Ray Ginger’s book, Six Days or Forever?: Tennessee v. John T. Scopes, is prejudiced on the side of the evolutionist and seems to indicate that all fundamentalists are ignorant people.”26

Artist’s indictment of the two most popular representations of the Scopes Trial at that time, the 1960 film Inherit the Wind which parodies the trial and the 1958 historical work by Ray Ginger, shed light on his view of the trial and also foreshadowed the issues he would face fighting for creationism in public schools. He sympathized with fundamentalists and lamented the negative images associated with them in this statement, although his approach would ultimately attempt to right what they had done wrong decades before. In 1967, the Tennessee legislature repealed the Butler Act that fundamentalists had so vehemently supported in 1925. Epperson v. Arkansas presented another major challenge to future legal efforts against evolution a year later in 1968.27

For Artist, however, these were hardly setbacks. He had no intention to make evolutionary teaching illegal again. Rather, he wanted his “two-model approach” to be the standard, with the Genesis account of creation discussed alongside the theory of evolution in every textbook in the state. “Since evolution is not science, but a belief, a philosophy,” he argued, evolution would look foolish when placed next to such a simple yet powerful creation story as the one in the Bible.28 He began searching among like-minded Tennessee Christians for additional support with his crusade, and he had little trouble finding it.

II. Another Monkey Bill: The “Theory and Fact Law” of 1973

“Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the good folks in Dayton, Tennessee and William Jennings Bryan College, we thank you for your vote.” – Rep. Bill Carter of Rhea County to the Tennessee House of Representatives, April 26, 197329

Several years before Dayton’s state representative triumphantly announced his gratitude to those who voted in favor of the Genesis Bill, Russell Artist was in the biology department at David Lipscomb College doing his best to stir up some controversy among his fellow Church of Christ members. “Brethren, I need your help to alert you to the tragic inroad of the BSCS biology textbook series into our high schools,” he wrote in a pleading announcement printed in the Church of Christ’s official publication, the Gospel Advocate, in 1969. “Bluntly put, the religion of biology—of evolution—is in our schools and the Bible with its creation viewpoint is out! The Creation Research Society has now written a high school textbook exposing the false claims of evolution and upholding God as creator. Are you ready to help us meet the BSCS evolutionary oriented textbooks?”30

Although the majority of Gospel Advocate readers were unlikely to know anything about the Creation Research Society, they were probably familiar with the group’s goals. Described by historian Ronald Numbers as “the leading creationist organization of the late twentieth century,” the Creation Research Society (CRS) helped define the tenets of creationism and to disseminate them as widely as possible by 1963.31 Initially made up of only ten strict creationists whom CRS member and author of The Genesis Flood Henry Morris referred to as the “Team of Ten,” the society grew rapidly in the early 1960s.32 Although Russell Artist was not one of Morris’s “Team of Ten,” he was certainly present in the CRS almost from its inception. He eventually served as a contributor to the CRS’s most prized project, a high school biology textbook entitled Biology: A Search For Order in Complexity.33 This textbook was the first mass-published biology book to present evolution and the Genesis account of creation as competing theories.

Biology: A Search For Order in Complexity defined “Creation” as “the sum total of acts by the Creator or Supreme Being who brought into existence the universe, the earth, and all life, including mankind, that is therein.”34 While the CRS was careful to remove explicit references to Genesis, God, and the Bible from the text, their intent remained clear. A “Creator” breathed life into the world, they argued, and there was little more to the story than that. The book did teach evolution; however, it also included an entire unit that called into question basic tenets of the theory. The ideas presented by Biology: A Search For Order in Complexity were far less dependent on Biblical literalism than was Artist’s own self-published textbook from 1959, but the basic concepts were remarkably similar. Both books portrayed evolution as an unprovable philosophical theory riddled with errors, while “Creation” emerged as the only logical explanation for the origin of species.

“The battle will not be easy,” Artist admitted in a later Gospel Advocate piece written in 1970, “for Tennessee has just recently repealed the famous ‘anti-Evolution Law,’ often called the ‘monkey law,’ and many are convinced that we are trying to ‘turn back the clock.’”35 He was acutely aware that his state would not be able to shake its legacy as the home of “Monkey Town,” yet he also sensed that Tennessee’s seemingly endless obsession with evolution might provide the perfect opportunity for Biology: A Search For Order in Complexity to introduce high schoolers to the CRS’s newly-evolved, more scientific creationism.36 Having appeared before the Tennessee Textbook Commission several times between 1970 and 1973 asking for them to add the book to its approval list, Artist showed no signs of giving up the fight despite continued denials. As summer approached and classes ended at David Lipscomb College in 1972, Artist contemplated a new strategy.

Artist’s push for the Genesis Bill was something he undertook on his own. Although he affiliated himself with the CRS, there is no evidence that the group was involved with drafting or lobbying for the bill. Without Artist’s initiative, virtually any state in America could have passed the nation’s first “equal time” law. But Tennessee appeared to be as good a choice as any, and the unlikely combination of a particularly active creationist biologist and the precedent already set in the state by the Butler Act only added fuel to the fire. When he planned his fateful meeting with Senator Milton Hamilton in the summer of 1972, there were no guarantees that the bill would make it any further than the restaurant table where it was born.

The bill began, “Any biology textbook used for teaching in the public schools, which expresses an opinion of, or relates to a theory about origins or creation of man and his world shall be prohibited from being used as a textbook in such system unless it specifically states that it is a theory as to the origin and creation of man and his world and is not represented to be scientific fact.” Known officially as the “Theory and Fact Law,” it went on to stipulate that textbooks must give equal space to all origins theories, “including, but not limited to, the Genesis account of the Bible.”37 It would not go into effect until 1975, presumably to give school systems enough time to purchase appropriate textbooks that fit the guidelines set forth in the new law. But, as Artist himself noted, Biology: A Search For Order in Complexity might be the “only one at present that answers this particular bill.”38

Senator Milton Hamilton of Union City introduced Senate Bill number 394 during the first week of April 1973, nearly a year after his meeting with Russell Artist. On April 5, Dayton’s state representative Bill Carter penned a note in his weekly “Capitol Report” column in the local paper saying he would like to be the House sponsor of the bill. “This will be a complicated piece of legislation, and might be difficult to pass,” he warned, “but its passage means a lot to me and I know it does to a large number of Rhea Countians.” Although Carter eventually served only as a co-sponsor, he nevertheless had a particular interest in the bill from its inception because of its unique link with the community he served. “Since I unsuccessfully opposed the repeal of the ‘Evolution Law’ in 1968, I have been duty bound to do all I can to see that this bill is passed,” Carter later wrote in an article published the same day the House approved a slightly amended version of the Genesis Bill. “Evolution is being taught as a fact – not just a theory. Passage of this bill certainly will be one of my top three legislative goals for this session.”39 When it did in fact pass both houses of the Tennessee legislature on April 30, 1973, Sen. Hamilton, Rep. Carter, and Dr. Russell Artist were all delighted by their accomplishment. Starting in 1975, the new textbook regulations would take effect. But as with most controversial laws, the story of the Genesis Bill’s passage was not quite as simple as it seemed.

Artist’s justification for the Genesis Bill involved a twofold argument. He contended that evolution was so flimsy a theory that it should hardly be considered more scientific than the Genesis account of creation, while also claiming that both creation and evolution were philosophical concepts rooted primarily in belief. It was the latter part of his argument that won out in the actual text of the bill. All origin stories had to be labelled as theories and not as scientific facts, it commanded. Evolutionary theory, the Genesis theory, and presumably the creation theories of all other religions on Earth must be represented in textbooks statewide. Perhaps this was an unintended consequence on Artist’s part. In his zeal to see creationism taught alongside evolution in biology classrooms, he had unwittingly downplayed the scientific merits of “Special Creation” for which he had so passionately fought since his religious conversion in the 1940s. Instead of a serious discussion in the Tennessee legislature about the nature of science and its intimate relationship with religion, as Artist had envisioned, any objections legislators raised mostly centered on how the Genesis Bill placed Christianity on the same level as both evolution and the creation myths of other religions.

“The teachers of evolution are teaching religion!” Rep. Cecil Corley of Gallatin charged. “The teaching of evolution has not furthered the cause of science or biology. They are teaching that man is a God himself and that there is no God. Religion is being taught in our textbooks, it is the doctrine of the devil.”40 Suddenly, the voices swirling through the House and Senate chambers in Nashville began to sound an awful lot like those that had filled the cramped courtroom in the Rhea County courthouse during the summer of 1925. This was not a point that was lost on the local and national media who swarmed into Tennessee during April of 1973 searching feverishly for a good story. Rep. Thomas Burnett of Jamestown, the House sponsor of the Genesis Bill, made sure to state for the record that the bill “is not a monkey law. It is not designed to make the people of Tennessee look foolish.”41 But the link between the new Genesis Bill and the Scopes Trial was undeniable, and the press loved it. “Six years after repealing the anti-evolution law which led to Tennessee’s famed 1925 Monkey Trial, the state legislature has aligned itself again with the Bible belt and passed another measure,” chimed the Cleveland Banner, “This time, however, the monkeys get equal space with Adam and Eve.”42

On April 18, 1973, the day the Tennessee Senate started their floor debates on the Genesis Bill surrounded in their chamber by television cameras from around the country, a lone camera crew also arrived in Dayton. This crew, representing the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, filmed a group of locals who discussed the Scopes Trial at the Rhea County courthouse. The Dayton Herald printed an article about the Senate debates and the visit from CBS, addressing the two events as if they had occurred only coincidentally. Walter Cronkite wanted footage of the courtroom where John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution, and the Senate passed a new bill concerning origins. Despite the Herald’s wishful thinking, however, the two were naturally related, and the senators in Nashville were all too aware of the similarities. They severely limited their discussion of the bill in the Senate chamber that day. When asked why by a Nashville newspaper, Sen. Hamilton replied: “The reason there wasn’t any debate is that the national TV came down here with the idea they would make us look like a bunch of nitpickers. You know, like barefoot Tennesseans.”43

Another senator, James White of Memphis, captured the mood in both the Capitol and in Dayton when faced with more national ridicule over the state’s seemingly endless battle with Darwin. “Gentlemen,” he began, “today, a half century after the Scopes Trial, when the eyes of the nation—” He was cut off by a motion to cease his objection, but the Speaker of the Senate allowed him to continue. The chamber grew quiet. “—when the eyes of the nation were turned toward Tennessee for comic relief, the Tennessee legislature is once again affording the nation the chance to see Tennessee in action.” A single laugh echoed from somewhere nearby. “In our zeal to disclaim any historical kinship with the simian, we may be acting in such a way as to cause people to think we’re proving our direct descent.”44 Sen. White finished his comments, and his colleagues quickly passed Senate Bill 394.

III. Daniel v. Waters and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Scopes Trial

Dear Citizens of Dayton: As I sat in my home this morning, the story of your town was brought to my attention via the CBS morning news. It was heart warming and refreshing to know there are still honest-to-goodness God fearing people in our country. Your town looked so American and your people so happy. I feel certain you must have very conservative leadership. Be proud of your town’s history, for your possession of fundamentalism is a wonderful and rare thing. –Cordially, Mrs. Sam Fondren of Columbus, MS45

Governor Winfield Dunn received hundreds of letters about the Genesis Bill during the spring of 1973. The bill quickly became a hot-button issue throughout the entire state, prompting citizens to flood the Governor’s office with numerous fervent pleas in favor of, as well as vehemently against, the bill. Unlike his political predecessor in 1925, Dunn showed little interest in wading into such a sensitive and potentially damaging debate. Decades earlier, Austin Peay, the Governor of Tennessee when the state passed the Butler Act, had been enthusiastic about signing into law the bill that would outlaw evolution and eventually cement the Scopes Trial’s place in history. Dunn, wishing not to anger Tennesseans on either side, was far more timid. Perhaps he had taken a valuable lesson from Peay’s mistake, keeping both his commentary and his signature to himself this time around.

Even without Gov. Dunn’s explicit approval, the Genesis Bill became the law of the land in Tennessee. The brief but intense media spotlight that spilled across the state during April and early May of 1973 faded, eventually being supplanted by criticism from the scientific community instead. A particularly scathing article appeared in November of 1973 in the journal Science: New Series, poking fun at Tennessee and invoking the memory of the Scopes Trial for an eagerly receptive audience. “Santayana’s tag about those who cannot remember the past being condemned to repeat it has apparently been forgotten in the state legislature of Tennessee,” Nicholas Wade began in his short piece entitled “Evolution: Tennessee Picks A New Fight With Darwin.” Wade’s article directly implicated Russell Artist as the culprit behind the Genesis Bill, equating him and the Creation Research Society with “the fundamentalists” and accusing them both of turning back the clock to the 1920s. “Artist tried to persuade the Tennessee state textbook commission to adopt a biology textbook coauthored by him and other members of the Creation Research Society,” Wade charged. “When the commission refused Artist approached Senator Hamilton, the author of the new law and, like Artist, a member of the Church of Christ.”46

This article caused trouble for Russell Artist for two reasons. First, it linked the Creation Research Society to the push for the Genesis Bill, which beyond Artist’s longstanding personal affiliation with the society was untrue. It also tied Sen. Milton Hamilton to a specific denomination, Artist’s own Church of Christ, subtly planting the idea that the Genesis Bill was some kind of conspiracy thought up by Church of Christ members who wanted their church’s view of creation to become state law. Artist was especially concerned with the latter issue. On December 12, 1973, he received a letter in response to Wade’s article from a fellow Church of Christ member. It encapsulated many of the problems that followed Artist after the publicity surrounding the Genesis Bill died down. “I was especially unhappy to see the church mentioned by name. I’m sure that you and Sen. Hamilton would be the first to admit you are not official spokesmen for the church,” it read. “I feel it is tragic that so many of my brethren who believe that the events of Genesis 1:1-2:4 were completed in a literal 168 hours deny that a Christian can interpret the scriptures differently. It is tragic because many, especially our young people, who accept the premise that evolution and the Bible are necessarily in conflict needlessly lose their faith when convinced of evolution.”47 The author struck a chord with Artist, whose own religious awakening happened under remarkably similar circumstances. Artist, however, had turned solely to the Bible over evolution.

“I concede that, as mentioned in Sen. Hamilton’s law, evolution is a theory rather than a scientific fact. It disturbs me though that too often the ‘theory’ vs. ‘fact’ argument is raised in lay discussions without an adequate description of the nature of theories in scientific epistemology,” the letter continued. “Theories are certainly more than the idle speculation they are implied to be in some sermons I’ve heard.” The signature at the bottom said simply, “Christian love, Dale Cannon, PhD.”48 It was this final statement about “theory vs. fact” that prompted Artist to reply. The premise of the Genesis Bill centered on the distinction between theories and facts in the science classroom; however, Cannon raised an important objection to this seemingly basic assumption. Was it really accurate to label all stories about the origins of life on earth as theories in the scientific sense? Would the Genesis account of creation hold up to the same kind of scrutiny that evolution had to in order to be considered a scientific theory? “A good theory must allow us to predict on the basis of its statement,” Artist responded a few weeks later. “Well, we can certainly do that with creation. We would predict that the universe would of necessity have some order and some design if it were created — and of course it does.”49

Artist took particular offense at being accused of speaking on behalf of his church. “Let me say to you truthfully, I myself did not mention the Church of Christ at any time in my talk with him…” he argued, referring to his interview with Nicholas Wade. “And he made a glaring mistake in aligning Senator Hamilton with us; I believe he is a Methodist. So much for that.”50 Though he was well aware that not all of his fellow members of the Church of Christ supported him, Artist assured Cannon that the Genesis Bill was desperately needed in order to combat the bias toward evolution being taught to children in their biology classrooms throughout Tennessee. Discussion of what a scientific “theory” meant had no bearing on whether or not the Genesis Bill was a good idea for the state, Artist reasoned. “It was a people bill, not for PhDs,” he remarked.51

The important scientific details that were largely overlooked in the Genesis Bill’s wording, however, were certainly cause for concern among many creationists. Artist might have succeeded at getting the nation’s first “equal time” law on the books in Tennessee, but creationists worried the bill’s slippery language and stipulation that all theories of human origins be given commensurate time in biology textbooks could potentially do more harm than good to the more “scientific” brand of creationism they were interested in popularizing. In 1974, leading creationist Henry M. Morris published his own creationist textbook for use in public schools entitled simply Scientific Creationism. Based in part off of the CRS’s approach in Biology: A Search For Order in Complexity, Morris intended Scientific Creationism to be a supplementary textbook in biology classes featured alongside more traditional textbooks that discussed evolution. Under the rubric put forth in the Genesis Bill, Scientific Creationism would have likely been considered acceptable supplementary material if the law’s provisions ever had gone into effect.

“Teachers, students, pastors, and others can now be equipped with factual information of the fallacies of evolution and evidence of special creation,” the back cover of Scientific Creationism read. “The first seven chapters present only the scientific data, with a courteous, positive treatment. The eighth and longest chapter provides an extensive discussion of the Biblical aspects of creationism, placing the scientific material in proper theological and Scriptural perspective.”52 Morris and his newly formed creationist society, the Institute for Creation Research, sent out copies of the book to science teachers across the country in order to persuade them to teach creationism alongside evolution as two competing, yet equally valid, scientific theories. There were two versions of the book, however. The original included the eighth chapter on Biblical context, while the “Public School Edition” omitted any references to the Bible as well as all specifically Christian terms.53 It seemed that only a year after Tennessee implemented the Genesis Bill, creationists were already working on rebranding creationism in an even more scientific guise, shedding religious terminology completely in materials intended for public schools. Interestingly, Russell Artist’s name was absent from the list of contributors to Scientific Creationism.

The same year as Morris published Scientific Creationism, University of Tennessee lawyer Frederic Le Clercq wrote an essay that resurrected discussion of the Butler Act and also formed preliminary plans for a legal case against the Genesis Bill. Le Clercq laid out in this article the status of the “equal time” push by stating bluntly that “creationists are making a determined effort to replace the theory of evolution in public school science textbooks with the doctrine of Divine or Biblical Creation, or its protean ‘scientific’ counterpart, special or spontaneous creation.”54 Le Clercq found the Genesis Bill particularly troubling, arguing that the bill was in direct violation of “the establishment, free exercise, and free speech clauses of the first amendment and the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment.”55 He also clearly understood the key shift that had taken place in creationist strategy over the previous fifty years, noting the differences between the drive to “blot out” evolution in the 1920s and the fight for equal emphasis on creationism in the 1970s.

Russell Artist and Frederic Le Clercq did not know one another in 1974, but their paths would soon cross, and if a University of Tennessee philosophy professor named Peter Bowman had anything to do with it, they would cross in Dayton. Hardly as dramatic as the legendary showdown between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan back in 1925, Le Clercq and Artist both received a letter from Bowman in late 1973 requesting their participation in a symposium on Tennessee’s Evolution Laws set to take place some time prior to the celebration of the Scopes Trial’s fiftieth anniversary at the Rhea County courthouse. This symposium would target the “citizens of Rhea” and would pose to its panelists a question: “What kind of belief or value is the ‘creationist’ account of the origin of man? Scientific or religious?”56

Bowman intended this event to be an educational debate between academics who were heavily invested in their particular stances on the Genesis Bill, set against a backdrop that was powerful and still rather troubling for many citizens of Tennessee. The end result was more negative press for Dayton. As one newspaper editorial read, “Nearly 50 years after the historic Scopes monkey trial focused world attention on this tranquil hamlet, you can still get an invitation to leave town by speaking up for evolution.”57 Held in early June of 1974 with around 250 Rhea County residents in attendance, the symposium featured three creationist academics from local colleges, including Church of God-affiliated Lee University and Dayton’s own Bryan College. Frederic Le Clercq acted as the sole dissenting voice.58 Notably absent from the panel, however, was Russell Artist himself. Artist left behind nothing about the event except the original project proposal in his personal papers, therefore his reasons for not participating are unknown.59 But although Le Clercq never got his opportunity to confront Artist directly about the Genesis Bill, he soon had the chance to present his complaints on a much grander stage.

On April 10, 1975, the United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, abruptly struck down the Genesis Bill in a case called Daniel v. Waters. Frederic Le Clercq served as the attorney for the plaintiff, representing Joseph C. Daniel, Jr. and three other Knoxville members of the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). They charged that the Genesis Bill was “patently unconstitutional,” an assessment with which the U. S. Court of Appeals agreed without even hearing any arguments against it.60 Edward Larson described the quick Daniel ruling as a “blanket condemnation” that is typically reserved “for direct violations of established constitutional principles.”61 The District Court’s decision affirmed an earlier case from March of 1975, Steele v. Waters, which had challenged the Genesis Bill in the state’s Supreme Court. Many newspapers noted that the timely ruling occurred exactly fifty years after the Butler Act was used to prosecute John Scopes in Dayton, but otherwise the Daniel v. Waters case happened largely without fanfare. It was as though the nation had finally grown tired of hearing about Tennessee and its apparent affinity for “monkey laws.”

The town of Dayton, Tennessee could certainly relate to the rest of the country’s indifference. Daniel v. Waters was barely mentioned in the local Dayton Herald. Rep. Bill Carter had sworn that the overwhelming majority of his constituents back home in Rhea County adamantly supported the Genesis Bill, but by 1975, as the community braced itself for the fiftieth anniversary of the Scopes Trial, there appeared to be little concern over the state overturning the law. Dayton might have wanted a Genesis Bill on the books in Tennessee, but its people were no longer willing to put up much of a fight for it. As the summer of 1975 came around, a simple commemorative postmark was one of the few reminders of the town’s controversial past. Any mail sent from Dayton bore the “SCOPES TRIAL 50TH ANNIVERSARY, 1925-1975” stamp in the top corner as a testament to their history.62

Besides this tiny token of remembrance, relatively little else took place in Dayton that July to celebrate fifty years of being “Monkey Town.” A theater group reenacted some of the Scopes Trial’s key moments in the famous courtroom, and local organizations set up a small bazaar on the courthouse lawn for the townspeople to enjoy. The highlight of the otherwise timid festivities was a college professor’s recitation of some of William Jennings Bryan’s speeches on the subject of the Bible and faith.63 Thus the people of Dayton sat basking in the comforting and familiar religious imagery of Bryan’s words during the summer of 1975 while the debate they had helped spark fifty years earlier, the conflict their state had once again revived for a new generation, continued onward, largely leaving Tennessee behind in its wake.


“It is a great privilege to study both the Bible and science. It is toward a harmony of the two that the Christian must strive.” – Russell Artist64

The 1975 defeat of his Genesis Bill marked the end of Dr. Russell Artist’s public quest for equal time in Tennessee biology classrooms. While he still published occasional articles that discussed the merits of Biblical creation and the fallacies of Darwinian evolution over the course of the two decades that followed, he essentially abandoned the thought of bringing his prized idea to life again the way he had in the summer of 1972 with the help of Senator Milton Hamilton and his Church of Christ brethren. The folder filled with papers he donated to David Lipscomb College, now known as Lipscomb University, consists predominantly of items related to the Genesis Bill. He kept virtually everything associated with it, including his correspondences, hand-written notes, and any article or publication he wrote or in which he was quoted. If the small archive he left behind is any indication, Artist certainly seemed to have been sincere when he wrote years before that his goal in life was to help others approach science from a Christian point of view.65

But sincerity does not always ensure victory, and by all accounts Artist’s push for the Genesis Bill produced only a brief glimmer of success before ultimately being quashed mere months before it was scheduled to take effect during the 1975-76 school year. The creationist movement in which Artist had been instrumental since the 1950s adjusted itself accordingly following the loss in Tennessee, shifting their emphasis further and further away from the Bible and closer toward a Genesis carefully shrouded in scientific terminology. Artist’s efforts might not have won in the long run, but creationist groups like the Creation Research Society and Henry Morris’s Institute for Creation Research paid close attention to where and how the Genesis Bill faltered. Tennessee’s “Theory and Fact Law” of 1973 thus opened the door for all other “equal time” laws passed in the United States. Its focus on beliefs and origin stories led to its downfall, and creationists knew from then on not to make the same mistake again. The state that had given the world the “Monkey Trial” changed the creation-evolution debate not once, but twice.

While the fact that exactly fifty years transpired between Tennessee’s Butler Act and the date the Genesis Bill was set to go into effect seemed entirely coincidental, the constant comparisons drawn between the controversy surrounding the Genesis Bill and the Scopes Trial of 1925 were not. No other state had gone through what Tennessee had gone through, no other state was synonymous with antievolutionism. Tennessee experienced a perfect storm in 1973 in much the same way as it had in 1925: the combination of the right people and the right timing. If Russell Artist had lived elsewhere, perhaps he would have tried to get a version of the Genesis Bill passed there. It is doubtful, however, that another state would have been quite as receptive to his ideas as the lawmakers in Tennessee were. The Genesis Bill, like the Butler Act before it, inadvertently served as a test for future legislation. Taking evolution out of the realm of science and treating it instead as a competing philosophical theory of human origins paved the way for the further stripping of Biblical and religious concepts from scientific creationism in the late 1970s and 1980s and eventually for “Intelligent Design” in the 1990s and beyond. The textbook controversies and arguments over origins that still echo through state capitol buildings today are built upon the lessons learned from the Genesis Bill’s failure.

Dayton’s lackluster fiftieth anniversary celebration of the first major bit of “monkey business” Tennessee undertook back in 1925 symbolized many of the changes in evolution legislation that occurred in the decades after John Scopes was found guilty. The Scopes Trial was an extravagant production that Dayton business boosters envisioned would have lasting positive effects on their small East Tennessee town. What Dayton ended up with, however, was a hazy memory of larger-than-life celebrities, an unsympathetic media, and a nickname that would stick with them. On the other hand, the state of Tennessee was left with an antievolution law that stayed on the books until 1967. When Tennessee decided to address the subject of evolution in public schools once more almost fifty years after the Scopes Trial, the passion of the antievolutionists was replaced by the subdued tactics of the new creationists. The Genesis Bill passed but was quietly killed in a trial that barely warranted mention. While a few Dayton locals strolled across the lawn of the Rhea County courthouse during the Scopes Trial anniversary festivities in July 1975, Dr. Russell Artist was in Nashville still trying to come to terms with the fact that his creationist crusade in Tennessee was over. The Scopes Trial momentarily had resumed its storied place in the minds of Dayton and the rest of the state as the memory of Tennessee’s ill-fated Genesis Bill slowly faded away.

  1. “Scopes Trial Still Brings National Attention,” Dayton Herald, July 17, 1975.

  2. William Jennings Bryan died on July 26, 1925 in his guesthouse in Dayton, Tennessee. For information on his death and its effect on the memory of the Scopes Trial, see Lawrence Levine, Defender of the Faith: William Jennings Bryan, the Last Decade (London: Oxford University Press, 1965); Michael Kazin, A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (New York: Anchor Books, 2006); and Edward Larson, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion (New York: Basic Books, 1997).

  3. “Scopes Trial Still Brings National Attention,” Dayton Herald, July 17, 1975.

  4. Text taken directly from Senate Bill No. 394 (TN 1973) as recorded in Senate Journal of the Eighty-Eighth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee. (Nashville: Senate Chief Clerk, 1973), 1364. Courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.

  5. This school is now known as Lipscomb University. Because it was called David Lipscomb College during the 1970s, I will refer to it by this name.

  6. “Letter to the Editor” written by Russell Artist on April 20, 1973. There is no intended recipient listed anywhere in this letter, however Artist hand-wrote a note at the top that read, “Do you think he’ll print it?”

  7. There were unsuccessful legal attempts to place strict rules on the teaching of evolution around the same time as the Genesis Bill in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, and Washington, along with controversies over creationist teachings among textbook committees in several states, most notably Ohio and Texas. Tennessee was the first state to enact such a law, and subsequent bills introduced in other states were modeled after Tennessee’s version. These attempts are documented in Frederic Le Clercq, “The Monkey Laws and the Public Schools: A Second Consumption?” Vanderbilt Law Review (27 Vand. L. Rev. 209 1974). California also had a history of unsuccessful textbook debates over evolution dating back to 1969 and extending well into the 1970s. The California Board of Education tried to add “scientific creationism” to state biology textbooks alongside evolution in 1973, but their motion ultimately failed. Further information on the issues surrounding California’s textbook regulations can be found in Numbers, The Creationists, and Edward J. Larson, Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). Larson also discusses other textbook controversies that emerged in Texas, Kentucky, and Indiana after the Tennessee law passed.

  8. Two of the legal works discussing the Genesis Bill and Daniel v. Waters are Patricia M. Lines, “Scientific Creationism in the Classroom: A Constitutional Dilemma,” Loyola Law Review (28 Loy. L. Rev. 35 1982) and Joyce F. Francis, “Creationism v. Evolution: The Legal History and Tennessee’s Role in that History,” Tennessee Law Review (63 Tenn. L. Rev. 753 1996). The most important legal work discussing the bill itself was written in 1974 by the attorney who would represent the plaintiff in Daniel v. Waters a year later. This piece is Frederic Le Clercq, “The Monkey Laws and the Public Schools: A Second Consumption?” Vanderbilt Law Review (27 Vand. L. Rev. 209 1974).

  9. Ronald Numbers, The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006). This is the second “expanded” edition of Numbers’s 1992 book The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). Neither version mentions the Genesis Bill.

  10. Edward J. Larson, Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). The book was first published in 1985 and has since been updated and released in three different editions. All the citations in this paper come from the third edition. Larson is also notable for his book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, which mentions the 1973 equal time legislation in Tennessee in a single sentence in the book’s final chapter.

  11. Larson, Trial and Error, 134.

  12. The account of this meeting comes from an article called “The Genesis Bill” in the Kingsport Times-News, dated May 13, 1973. Sen. Hamilton recounted it, saying he met with Artist, a minister named Curtis Dowdy, and another minister “whose name Hamilton doesn’t recall.” There is no information on where the meeting occurred or the exact date, simply that it took place early in 1973. The article was photocopied and placed in Governor Winfield Dunn’s papers in a folder labelled “Genesis Bill” along with other articles from around the state. Dunn’s papers are available on microfilm at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville.

  13. The story of the Scopes Trial’s initial planning at Robinson’s Drug Store has been written about in numerous secondary accounts. The most notable among these is Edward Larson’s Summer For the Gods. The best first-hand account is John T. Scopes’s autobiography, Center of the Storm: Memoirs of John T. Scopes (New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1967). Although there are reasons to speculate about the accuracy of the tales of the Robinson’s Drug Store meeting, as the media sensationalized the account in newspapers published during the trial, there seems to be no reason to doubt that the meeting definitely took place in at least a somewhat similar manner to what has been reported through the years.

  14. Information taken from a paper entitled “Biographical Data on Dr. Russell C. Artist” dated March 7, 1968. Russell Artist Papers, Lipscomb University Archives.

  15. Undated manuscript entitled “How I Was Led To Christ” by Russell Artist. Found in his papers at Lipscomb University. This three-page typed manuscript documents Artist’s religious transformation in Salt Lake City as a young professor, and also gives some brief, yet very personal details about his upbringing.

  16. “Biographical Data on Dr. Russell C. Artist,” Russell Artist Papers, Lipscomb University Archives.

  17. David Edwin Harrell, Jr., “The Sectional Origins of the Churches of Christ,” The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Aug. 1964), 261.

  18. For further reading on the Church of Christ and its origins, its internal disputes, and its beliefs, see Richard T. Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 1996) and David Edwin Harrell, Jr., The Churches of Christ in the Twentieth Century: Homer Hailey’s Personal Journey of Faith (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2000). These two books are the most cited works dealing with the Church of Christ. Very little has been written about the history of the Church of Christ compared to other American protestant denominations, and besides these two books, most studies that mention the Church of Christ discuss it in terms of the larger Restoration Movement and the Stone-Campbell Movement from which it emerged in the early nineteenth century. This is likely due to the disputes that have shaped these movements, causing various churches to spin off from others. The main three variants of these Restoration Movement churches are the Disciples of Christ, the churches of Christ/Christians, and the Church of Christ. Despite the similarities in their names, the three groups are distinct, and this paper deals only with the latter group.

  19. Many historians have perpetuated the misconception that antievolutionism and its fundamentalist champions essentially disappeared after the Scopes Trial, only to be revived later in a different format during the latter part of the twentieth century. It was such a popular narrative in the decades following 1925 that even John Scopes himself repeated the claim in his autobiography, saying he believed “that the Dayton trial marked the beginning of the decline of fundamentalism” (Center of the Storm: Memoirs of John T. Scopes, 31). Several books actively dispute this claim, however, proving that both antievolutionism and fundamentalism continued unabated after the trial, albeit in a more subdued form. For further discussion, see George Marsden, Fundamentalism in American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2006); Ronald Numbers, Darwinism Comes To America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998); and also Numbers, The Creationists.

  20. This is especially true with premillennial dispensationalism, which prompted its own controversy in the Church of Christ during the early decades of the twentieth century. Briefly, premillennial dispensationalism is the belief that Jesus will return to Earth prior to the millennium, combined with the concept of human history being divided into distinct “dispensations,” usually seven, in which God sets conditions that humans must meet in order to remain in his favor. Premillennial dispensationalism became a defining doctrine of fundamentalism during the 1920s and continues to be so today. More information on premillennial dispensationalism and how it differs from other millennial outlooks, particularly postmillennialism, can be found in Marsden, Fundamentalism in American Culture. For more information on the Church of Christ and premillennial dispensationalism, see Harrell, The Churches of Christ in the Twentieth Century, 57-72.

  21. Russell Charles Artist, “Trillions of Living Cells Speak Their Message,” in The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe: Forty American Scientists Declare Their Affirmative Views on Religion, ed. John Clover Monsma (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1958), 124.

  22. Larson, Trial and Error, 91.

  23. John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1961). This book was groundbreaking in two ways. First, it popularized creationism as a scientific concept that was no more provable than Darwinian evolution. Second, it reintroduced “flood geology” into mainstream creationism. Flood geology is a young-earth creationist theory that uses the Genesis description of Noah’s flood as a way of explaining the earth’s ancient geological record, the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the ice age. This idea was introduced prior to 1925, however it received little serious attention from creationists until the release of The Genesis Flood in 1961.

  24. Russell C. Artist, A Textbook of Biology for Christian Colleges, x. This textbook is self-published and spiral-bound. It has a publication date of 1960 on the front cover, but as the previous Nashville Tennessean article stated, Artist seems to have used the book in his classroom as early as 1959. Lipscomb University Archives.

  25. “Biologist’s Book Supports Views of Bible” in The Nashville Tennessean, October 11, 1959. Russell Artist Papers, Lipscomb University Archives.

  26. Russell C. Artist, “The Tennessee Anti-Evolution Law” Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, Vol. 15 (Sept. 1963), 78.

  27. The significance of Epperson v. Arkansas is discussed at length in Larson, Trial and Error as well as Numbers, The Creationists. There is also Langdon Gilkey’s first-hand account, Creationism on Trial: Evolution and God in Little Rock (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1985). This ruling overturned a 1928 Arkansas law that was modeled after Tennessee’s Butler Act.

  28. Letter from Russell Artist to Mrs. Mildred Bosworth, Director of Textbooks for the Tennessee State Department of Education, dated June 25, 1970. From Lipscomb University Archives.

  29. Representative Bill Carter of Rhea County, speaking to the Tennessee State House of Representatives on April 26, 1973, House Bill #597, 88th General Assembly, 1st session. Transcribed by the author from the official audio recording (Record H-205). Courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.

  30. Announcement by Russell C. Artist in the Gospel Advocate, January 1969. This quote comes from a clipping of the announcement found photocopied in Artist’s papers at the Lipscomb University Archives.

  31. Numbers, The Creationists, 240.

  32. Morris, The History of Modern Creationism, 202.

  33. John N. Moore and Harold Schultz Slusher, eds., Biology: A Search For Order in Complexity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1970). Russell Artist is listed as a contributor on page xvi.

  34. Ibid., 555.

  35. Russell C. Artist, “Evolutionary-Oriented BSCS Biology Textbooks Up for Re-Adoption or Rejection in Tennessee in June, 1970” in Gospel Advocate, June 25, 1970. From Russell Artist Papers at Lipscomb University Archives.

  36. In The Creationists, Ronald Numbers distinguishes between creationism broadly-defined and “scientific creationism,” which is a term that he argues is more well-suited for the creationism that groups like the CRS promoted beginning in the 1960s. He is careful to point out, however, that “scientific creationism” as a concept is still just Biblical creationism “stripped of explicit references to God, Adam, and Noah.” For more information, see The Creationists, as well as Numbers’s earlier article, “Creationism in 20th-Century America” (Science: New Series, Vol. 218, No. 4572 [Nov. 5, 1982]).

  37. Senate Bill No. 394 (TN 1973), Senate Journal of the Eighty-Eighth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee (Nashville: Senate Chief Clerk, 1973), 1364. Courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.

  38. “Prof’s Textbook Campaign Led To Genesis Bill” by Tom Gillem in The Nashville Tennessean, April 30, 1973. Taken from a photocopy in Russell Artist’s papers, Lipscomb University Archives.

  39. Rep. Bill Carter, “Capitol Report,” Dayton Herald, April 26, 1973. Carter gives an incorrect date on the repeal of Tennessee’s Butler Act, which actually took place in 1967.

  40. Representative Cecil Corley of Gallatin, speaking to the Tennessee State House of Representatives on April 26, 1973, House Bill #597, 88th General Assembly, 1st session. Transcribed by the author from the official audio recording (Record H-206). Courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.

  41. “UC Lawmakers Vote for New Origins Law,” The Cookeville Herald-Citizen, an undated newspaper clipping from the Winfield Dunn Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.

  42. “Scopes Trial Enters Legislature Debate,” Cleveland Banner (Cleveland, TN), April 28, 1973. From the Winfield Dunn Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.

  43. “State Senate Races TV on Evolution Legislation” in Nashville Banner, April 19, 1973.

  44. Senator James White of Memphis, speaking to the Tennessee State Senate on April 18, 1973, Senate Bill #394, 88th General Assembly, 1st session. Transcribed by the author from the official audio recording (Record S-105). Courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.

  45. “Letter to the Editor,” Dayton Herald, August 7, 1975.

  46. Nicholas Wade, “Evolution: Tennessee Picks A New Fight With Darwin” in Science: New Series, Vol. 182, No. 4113 (Nov 1973).

  47. Letter from Dale Cannon, PhD to Dr. Russell Artist, December 12, 1973. From the Russell Artist Papers, Lipscomb University Archives.

  48. Ibid.

  49. Letter from Dr. Russell Artist to Dale Cannon, PhD, December 26, 1973. From the Russell Artist Papers, Lipscomb University Archives.

  50. Ibid.

  51. Ibid.

  52. Henry M. Morris, Scientific Creationism, General Edition (San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1974).

  53. Ibid., iv.

  54. Le Clercq, “The Monkey Laws and the Public Schools,” 210.

  55. Ibid., 213.

  56. “Initial Proposal Text” form sent to Russell Artist by Peter Bowman, submitted to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on December 20, 1973. From the Russell Artist Papers, Lipscomb University Archives.

  57. “Any Advocates of Evolution Still Shunned in Tennessee,” The Boca Raton News, June 9, 1974.

  58. Ibid. This article fails to include the exact date the symposium took place.

  59. The “Initial Proposal Text” was accompanied by a letter from Bowman giving a few more details about the event, mostly referring to compensation for panelists. It also mentions that Bowman and Artist spoke via telephone about the plan, but Bowman offers no further information on the specifics of their conversation.

  60. Frederic S. Le Clercq and Milton Rice, Daniel, Jr (Joseph) v. Waters (Hugh), US Supreme Court Transcript of Record with Supporting Pleadings. Making of Modern Law (MOML) Print Edition of US Supreme Court Records and Briefs.

  61. Larson, Trial and Error, 138.

  62. “Special Scopes Post Mark” The Dayton Herald, May 5, 1975.

  63. “Scopes Trial Programs Set For July 21, 25, 26” Dayton Herald, July 17, 1975.

  64. Artist, A Textbook of Biology for Christian Colleges, 6.

  65. Paraphrased from “Biographical Data on Dr. Russell C. Artist,” Russell Artist Papers, Lipscomb University Archives.