DAYTON, Tenn. – In 1925, a historic court case forever changed the way many Americans view science and religion. Today, nearly 90 years later, two professors are launching a new Christian science organization less than a mile from where that momentous trial unfolded all those many years ago.
In the early 20th century, as the theory of evolution was gaining popularity, several states passed bills that banned the teaching of evolution in state-funded schools. One such state was Tennessee, where lawmakers decreed that the teaching of any origin theory other than Creation was unlawful in public schools.
This law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who persuaded John Scopes, a part-time science teacher in Dayton, to defy the law by using pro-evolution science textbooks in his class. Scopes was arrested for his offense, but immediately the ACLU hired prominent atheist lawyer Clarence Darrow to lead an aggressive defense team. In the trial, later nicknamed the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” Darrow went head-to-head with prosecutor William Jennings Bryan—a staunch Christian politician.
Even though the anti-evolution team led by Bryan technically won the trial, the proceedings were generally seen as a major victory for evolutionists, because Darrow publically posed several key questions about the Bible’s reliability which Bryan was unable to answer. As a result, the “Scopes Monkey Trial” seemed to be a major turning point in American history, suggesting to some that the Bible’s Creation account was not scientifically defendable.
Fast forward 88 years. Today, the small town of Dayton—a population of 7,000—is still well-known as the location of the famous trial. However, just half a mile from the courthouse where the famous case unfolded, two Christian science professors are boldly launching a brand-new education program designed specifically to help students better understand the natural sciences from a Biblical worldview.
The founders of the new Dayton-based program are Dr. Roger Sanders (Ph.D. botany) and Dr. Todd Wood (Ph.D. biochemistry), both of whom were professors at Bryan College, which—incidentally—was named after William Jennings Bryan. In fact, they both still use the facilities at Bryan College for their program, which they have named “Core Academy of Science.”
In an interview with Christian News Network, Dr. Wood suggested that an unnecessary distinction is often made between Christianity and science.
“We’ve all been very aggressive towards one another—the Christians and the scientists,” Dr. Wood explained. “And every time a new scientific issue comes up for debate, then it seems like it’s the pastor versus the scientist. That just strikes me as an unnecessary thing, when we could have good Christians scientists helping us to make wise decisions about science.”
One of the primary objectives of the academy, Dr. Wood mentioned, will be to encourage young Christians to become involved in various scientific fields.
“I think there’s room for good Christians in the sciences,” he said, “and there’s no reason why Christianity has to be antithetical to an appreciation of science.”
Starting this fall, the Core Academy of Science will offer a year-long, high school-level biology course, a semester-long introduction to origins course for high schoolers or adults, and a class on the historical Adam debate. Additionally, several course offerings are already in the works for the 2014-2015 school year, including high school chemistry and physical science classes, and a middle school earth science course. And sometime in the future, Dr. Wood said they will produce a course on the Scopes Trial.
Even though the academy will offer a few classes at an onsite location in Dayton, Dr. Wood suspects most of their students will participate offsite via their Internet program. He further explained that the academy’s software will allow students from all over the world to access video lessons, downloadable notes, homework assignments and all the other components that people would expect from a regular science class.
While Dr. Wood anticipates that the Core Academy of Science will be used primarily by homeschoolers in the United States, his desire is that the program will eventually be used worldwide.
“We’re really hoping that [the academy] would appeal not just to homeschoolers in America, but also missionary students around the world,” he stated. “So we’re really hoping that this is going to really take off.”
Additional information has been posted on the academy website at www.coresci.org