Ethical Guidelines for Clinical Trials Prevent Many Vaccines From Being Adequately Tested For Safety

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the WHO (World Health Organization), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) are considered by most Americans to be the most credible, trusted sources of “unbiased” information regarding disease, medical treatment, and the safety of pharmaceuticals. Your doctor and the entire medical community base their decisions about your care on recommendations from these organizations, which are theoretically based on the studies brilliant, highly-qualified scientists perform for these organizations. These organizations publicly publish this information so that anyone who wishes to educate themselves can do so.

That is precisely what millions of Americans, including myself, are now doing when it comes to the subject of vaccine safety. Unfortunately we are finding that these “trusted” recommendations are not adding up with the information provided by their own sources and many times are blatantly at odds with this publicly published information. I’m going to clearly demonstrate that to you today.

The focus of this article is the following claim publicly stated by the CDC:

“Before vaccines are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are tested extensively by scientists to ensure they are effective and safe.”

How do scientists test vaccine safety?

There are 3 phases in prelicensure vaccine safety testing as described by the FDA. According to the FDA, “Clinical trials are conducted according to plans that FDA reviews to ensure the highest scientific and ethical standards. The results of the clinical trials are a part of FDA’s evaluation to assess the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine.” Herein lies the rub.

What are the highest scientific standards when it comes to determining safety?

According to the NIH, randomized double blind placebo control studies are the “gold standard.” The NIH goes on to state that, “RDBPC studies remain the most convincing research design in which randomly assigning the intervention can eliminate the influence of unknown or immeasurable confounding variables that may otherwise lead to biased and incorrect estimate of treatment effect.”

The problem is, most vaccine studies are not RDBPC due to the ethical standards that must be maintained.

The fact is most vaccine safety clinical trials do not and cannot use a placebo in the truest sense of the word. According to the CDC’s own glossary of terms, a placebo is, “a substance or treatment that has no effect on human beings.” In the case of vaccine testing, a true placebo would have to be an injectable substance that is completely inert, such as saline solution for example. However, that is NOT what is predominantly used in vaccine trials.

If they aren’t using true placebos, what are they using?

According to the 2013 WHO Expert Consultation on the Use of Placebos in Vaccine Trials, the following replacements are used in lieu of a true placebo:

    • “In place of a placebo, a vaccine against a disease that is not the focus of the trial is given to participants who do not receive the trial vaccine.”

Or, an “add-on” vaccine can be used:

    • “In this design, the trial vaccine or placebo product is mixed with an existing vaccine not studied in the trial, and the subjects are given either (a) the trial vaccine mixed with the existing unrelated vaccine or (b) the combination of a placebo and the existing unrelated vaccine.”

Yes, you read those correctly! These vaccines are not being tested for safety against substances that are known to be safe. They are tested against other vaccines which contain the same or similar toxic ingredients common to all vaccines. Some trials are performed using “add-on” vaccines as a placebo. In these cases, potentially everyone in the trial is injected with the actual vaccine being tested! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that these methods are unacceptable when the goal is to ascertain safety.

The WHO freely admits this:

“A methodological disadvantage, however, is that trials using these types of placebos provide a less perfect control. It may be difficult or impossible to assess fully the safety and reactogenicity of the trial vaccine, although its efficacy can usually be assessed satisfactorily.” (emphasis mine)

(Reactogenicity is the ability of the vaccine to cause adverse reactions.)

“Methodological disadvantage!?” That’s the understatement of the century!

Let’s look at some very disturbing clinical trial data for a few of the vaccines the CDC recommends. Each vaccine is linked to its package insert so that you can read this information for yourselves:

Engerix B Hepatitis B vaccine (Recombinant) GlaxoSmithKline

“Ten double-blind studies involving 2,252 subjects showed no significant difference in the frequency or severity of adverse experiences between ENGERIX-B and plasma-derived vaccines…All subjects were monitored for 4 days post-administration.”

This study doesn’t prove that this vaccine is safe. Plasma derived vaccines were used in the control group instead of a placebo. It demonstrates that this vaccine doesn’t cause any more or any worse adverse effects than other vaccines cause- at least within the 4 day time frame the subjects were monitored.

This vaccine is given to babies on their very first day of life whether they are at risk for Hep B or not. Only babies born to Hep B positive mothers are at risk for Hep B. For millions of babies this vaccine is a completely unnecessary risk that provides them with absolutely zero benefit.

Infanrix (DTaP) GlaxoSmithKline

Table 4, on page 18 shows that Infanrix was not compared to a placebo, it was compared to the whole cell DTP vaccine.

According to WHO, acellular vaccines (like Infanrix) were introduced “to address the adverse reactions observed with whole cell vaccines…” This WHO report also notes that acellular vaccines have replaced whole cell vaccines in industrialized countries. However, due to the increased cost of acellular vaccines, the whole cell is still used in many developing countries. This vaccine is being tested against a control vaccine that we already know to be more dangerous than the type of vaccine being studied!

**Note figure 8.1 on page 18: “Pregnancy Category C Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with INFANRIX. It is not known whether INFANRIX can cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women or can affect reproduction capacity.

Despite this information listed in the product packaging, the CDC routinely recommends the DTaP vaccine to pregnant women. You can read about that on the CDC’s website in their article, Pregnant? Get Tdap in your 3rd trimester.

The CDC recommends either the BOOSTRIX vaccine or the Adacel vaccine (both DTaP) to pregnant women. While BOOSTRIX is rated one category safer than Adacel (Category B),the packaging still notes, “A developmental toxicity study has been performed in female rats at a dose approximately 40 times the human dose (on a mL/kg basis) and revealed no evidence of harm to the fetus due to BOOSTRIX. Animal fertility studies have not been conducted with BOOSTRIX. There are no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal production studies are not always predictive of human response, BOOSTRIX should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.”

Still feeling safe? Still feeling like the CDC has your back?


In 7 clinical trials (5 Amorphous Aluminum Hydroxyphosphate Sulfate [AAHS]- controlled, and 1 uncontrolled), 18,083 individuals were administered GARDASIL or AAHS control or saline placebo on the day of enrollment, and approximately 2 and 6 months thereafter, and safety was evaluated using vaccine report cards (VRC)- aided surveillance for 14 days after each injection of GARDASIL or AAHS control or saline placebo in these individuals.”

In these Gardasil trials, there actually WAS a control group which was given a true saline placebo. However there was another (much larger) control group given AAHS, which is the adjuvant in the Gardasil vaccine (the toxic portion that triggers immune response.) According to the insert, 15,706 subjects received Gardasil, 13,023 received AAHS and 594 received the placebo. However, they did not compare the three groups separately; they combined the AAHS and placebo group together and compared them to the Gardasil group. This means that the whole Gardasil vaccine was tested primarily against an injection containing its own toxic ingredients and determined to be “safe.”

Furthermore, 40 deaths occurred in the entire study which were broken down by cause. When you subtract the number of deaths that were due to car wrecks, overdoses/suicides and gunshot wounds, and compare the number of subjects who died: 18 subjects who were given either Gardasil or AAHS died and only 1 who had been given the placebo died.  Think about that! Subjects who received Gardasil or AAHS instead of placebo, died at a rate of 18 to 1!

Why Don’t Scientists Use Appropriate Placebos in Trials?

The “gold standard” in clinical trials cannot be implemented because the use of a placebo in many cases is unethical. The purpose of the 2013 WHO Expert Consultation on the Use of Placebos in Vaccine Trials was to detail the guidelines placed on the ethical use of placebos in vaccine trials. If using a traditional, inert placebo in the control group doesn’t “add any risk of serious or irreversible harm,” then clearly there is nothing unethical about using it. But what about when it does?

For example, according to WHO reports, in 2008 rotavirus was responsible for about 5% of all child deaths globally, with 90% of these deaths occurring in Africa and Asia. In a 2011-12 clinical trial in India for a new rotavirus vaccine, 2/3 of the infants received the test vaccine while 1/3 got a saline placebo injection. At the time, two approved oral rotavirus vaccines were already available. Not giving 1/3 of the Indian children in the trial a vaccine already known to be effective against rotavirus, constituted a human research violation that would not have been allowed in the US. Allowing preventable harm to occur in the name of research is unethical.

This means, for very legitimate ethical reasons, using true placebos according to the “gold standard” of clinical testing is not feasible. However, this in no way negates the fact that due to ethical constraints, it is impossible to accurately assess vaccine safety in many cases. It is also unethical to fail to provide this information to parents when discussing vaccine safety.

It crosses the line of unethical and meanders into the territory of illegal, when this information is intentionally censored from vaccine education sheets given to parents in the pediatrician’s office (as well as from conversations with your pediatrician) assuring that vaccines are “extensively tested for safety” knowing full well that safety and reactogenicity are “difficult or impossible to assess” by their own publicly published standards.

The next time someone tells you that vaccines have been proven safe in numerous extensive studies you can tell them that information is blatantly false, and the CDC, WHO, NIH, and FDA know it. Vaccines cannot be both adequately and ethically tested for safety.

Do Vaccines Contain Aborted Fetal Cells?

Do vaccines contain aborted fetal cells?

The short answer is: Yes, some do, but not all. I’ve heard a lot of people actually argue about this. Some people will argue emphatically and call you an idiot if you truly believe the “conspiracy theory” that vaccines contain aborted fetal cells. These people have clearly never bothered to read the list of ingredients printed in the vaccine package inserts. Nor have they visited the CDC website where aborted fetal cells are listed in the ingredients lists of various vaccines.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because they are looking for the words, “aborted fetal cells” which obviously aren’t there. It takes a little reading into the subject to discover that the words you should be looking for are “human diploid fibroblast cell structures” (which come in two strains- WI-38 and MRC-5).

The following vaccines were developed using one of the two aborted fetal strains above and do contain DNA from them:

      • Hepatitis A
      • Rubella (Rubella is a part of the MMR combination vaccine)
      • Varicella (chicken pox)
      • Zoster (shingles)
      • Adenovirus
      • Rabies
      • Polio
      • Enbrel (Rheumatoid Arthritis)

The following vaccines that are in development come from additional aborted fetal strains and contain DNA:

    • Ebola
    • Flu and Avian Flu
    • HIV

Why are aborted babies needed to produce these vaccines?

In order to make a vaccine, scientists must be able to grow the bacteria or virus they wish to create a vaccine for. In order to grow the bacteria or virus, they must have tissue to grow it on. While many vaccines are created using the tissue of various animals (cows, monkeys, chickens to name a few) and animal products (such as eggs), the use of tissue from aborted babies is superior for a number of reasons.

Cowpox found on the udders of infected cows used to manufacture the smallpox vaccine.

*You can thank me later for posting a pic of an artist rendering instead of a photo…

First, vaccines derived from animal sources carry a higher risk of contamination from other bacteria and viruses. For example, the polio vaccines that our parents were vaccinated with in the 50’s and 60’s were later found to be contaminated with a monkey virus referred to as SV40 or Simian Virus 40. (Whoops!) Now, the CDC claims that SV40 didn’t cause any adverse effects. So, it’s very ironic that according to laboratory findings, “ SV40 DNA has been detected in several human tumors, including osteosarcoma, mesothelioma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Similar tumors are induced by the virus in hamsters.” And no…the individuals whose tumors were found to contain SV40 DNA had no possible exposure to SV40 other than the polio vaccine. It’s not exactly something you come across on regular ole’ day in the US of A.

Rhesus Macaque. Monkey used to develop the polio vaccine used in the 50’s and 60’s. Later found to have been contaminated with Simian 40 virus.

Second, some pathogens just don’t grow as well on animal tissue (like chicken pox) because they don’t infect animals. However, the most important advantage to using tissue from aborted babies is that fetal cells can go through many more divisions than other cells before they die. A biologist named Hayflick determined that normal human cells can only reproduce a finite number of times (usually around 50) before they stop reproducing. Fetal cells, however, are capable of going through many more divisions before dying.

Let’s get acquainted with the two aborted babies that the vaccines we inject our children with are grown on. (I sincerely hope that sentence makes you cringe as much I did when I typed it.)Believe it or not, the background information is actually available. WI-38 is a 3 month old female fetus who belonged to two married parents living in Stockholm, Sweden in 1962. Reportedly, her father was a “drunk” who was “gone a lot.” According to Dr. Rene Leive in her “Brief History of Human Diploid Strains,” her parents “felt they already had too many children”, so they decided to abort her. MRC-5 is a fourteen week old male fetus who was murdered inside his 27 year old mother in 1970 for “psychiatric reasons.”

Before we continue, let’s take a minute to see what a 15 week old baby (the average age of the aborted babies used to create these fetal strains) looks like in utero.

15 week old fetus in utero

And here we come to the next misleading argument that is posited to rationalize or justify the use of aborted babies in the production of vaccines. If you’ll notice in the list of vaccine ingredients above, the vaccines that are currently in use today are all derived from two fetal cell strains: WI-38 and MRC-5. Our vaccines come from “only” two aborted babies. Again, Megan over at Whole Living puts it best with her “This Wasn’t Just a One-Night Stand” analogy, “You might have also heard that only two babies were used and it was a really long time ago, which justifies the continued use of shooting up live babies with dead babies.” Sometimes a little perspective goes a long way…

It may seem like common sense to some to realize that to arrive at WI number 38, numbers 1-37 logically preceded. You would be correct in this logical assumption. Hayflick also references WI-44 in his report, so you can be sure, very many more than one aborted baby has gone into the development of the WI-38 cell line that is still used today. The same holds true for the MRC-5 strain. Hayflick also makes mention of the MRC-9 strain which is derived from a 15 week old female fetus in 1974. Her mother was an unwed 14 year old who aborted her baby for “therapeutic” reasons according to the documentation (taken from the history of diploid strains linked above).

Our Rubella vaccine comes from another cell line, RA 27/3, which was developed by a man named Plotkin. It is derived from a female fetus whose mother contracted Rubella in 1964. She was aborted for this reason (rubella is only harmful to babies in utero and causes some severe birth defects). According to Plotkin’s documentation, over 40 aborted babies were cultured. RA 27/3 was not the first fetus to test positive for Rubella or the last and he doesn’t specify why he continued with the series. Interestingly, Dr. Leive notes, “It is documented that there were other effective virus strains already made at the time which had been obtained from other non-abortion-related methods.”

Can We Use These Same Cell Lines Forever?

No. They aren’t immortal and they’ll eventually die out. Scientists have never stopped developing new strains and new vaccines. In fact, they already have new human diploid cell strains to back up the current strains. IMR-90 is a 16 week old fetus from a 38 year old mother of six who decided the baby she was carrying in 1975 would be too inconvenient. Cell strain 293 is derived from kidney cells from a baby aborted in 1972. The PER C6 line, which is being used right now to develop the new ebola, flu, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV vaccines, is derived from an 18 week old fetus aborted in 1985. The main researcher for the PER C6 line, Van der Eb, stated that, “the woman wanted to get rid of the fetus and the father was unkown.”

In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is “distressed” that Congress is investigating fetal tissue researchers and procurement companies to make sure they aren’t profiting from the sale of tissue from aborted babies (which is illegal.) They released this statement, “Unfortunately, some state and federal politicians are working hard to obstruct- or even criminalize- fetal tissue research, limiting the ability of America’s leading scientists and researchers to develop new vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat disease. The ACOG warns that if this interference continues, “fetal research bans will stymie US based medical progress, leaving us to rely on other countries to develop medicines for our own patients.”

Apparently, without legal abortion to provide the scientific community with an endless supply of murdered babies, medical progress will virtually cease. Eye opening statement to say the least. There are some powerful players backing the pro-choice movement and their motivation has very little to do with a woman’s “right to choose.”

I’ll end with one last quote from Megan at Whole Living, “If science can’t advance without abortions, we need to go back to the drawing board.”

Evolution on Trial- A Legal History of the Battle Over Science Class, Part One- The Scopes Monkey Trial

As a Christian parent, have you ever wondered how science class ended up being the battle ground for the age old controversy of where life began? Were we created by an omnipotent being or did life spontaneously erupt from a primordial cocktail? If you take offense to the idea that a child should be taught the concept of life originating from a Creator, then you should also be offended by the idea that a child should be taught that all life is descended from a single cell organism- and vice versa. Even more difficult to fathom, is how we have arrived at the place where our children are taught that the secular theory of evolution is a confirmed fact and creation science is labeled a religious fanatic’s fairy tale, a “pseudoscience”.

The truth is we’ve all been sold a lie. That lie is that secular scientists have no bias. That secular science merely evaluates the evidence and allows that evidence to propel sound theory. We are told that creation science, on the other hand is unavoidably corrupted by the belief in a Creator. That the underlying belief in a Creator taints and warps a creation scientist’s understanding of this mutually shared evidence, leading to biased and unprovable theories of life as we know it. We are told that secular science deals in reality and creation science deals in myth- end of story.

To be totally honest, I am in agreement on at least two counts: creation science yields theories that are biased due to its foundational belief in a Creator, and the theories that are put forth to explain the existence of life as we know it cannot be confirmed.

However, I also believe that we are deluded if we believe that secular science doesn’t suffer from the same handicap. Secular science has its own obvious and detrimental bias. Its theories are corrupted by the foundational belief that life did not begin with a Creator. And, just like creation science, the theories that are offered up to explain the existence of life as we know it cannot be (and contrary to popular belief) have not been confirmed. If you question that last statement, I hope you’ll read the following posts from my blog: Did the Human Genome Project Confirm Evolution, and Evidence for Darwin’s “Descent of Man”: Mountain or Molehill?

Fundamental truth: Secular science vehemently and dogmatically denies the existence of a Creator with the same fervor in which creation science vehemently and dogmatically declares the existence of a Creator. Secular science has become a religion in its own right. A religion dedicated to denying the existence of a Creator at all costs.

Which science is better? From a logical standpoint, the only answer is neither. Given these truths, secular science and creation science can only be considered equals. But where does that leave science class? How are we to accurately apply the separation of church and state when it comes to what our children are taught about the scientific evidences and theories for the origin of life? If the government bans either theory from the classroom, it has made a law respecting the establishment of a particular religion- a blatant violation of the first amendment. Yet, that is exactly what has occurred.

So, how have we come to a place where creation science is legally banned from the classroom and evolution is taught as fact? Christian, the truth of the matter is, historically, we own a share of the blame. A series of court decisions over the last century have shaped the policies that govern how our children are educated today. Unfortunately, these court decisions have warped the application of separation of church and state.

To get a good historical understanding we have to go all the way back to the 1920’s. Darwin’s writings were very well established and had become generally accepted in biology. As a consequence, they were being incorporated into school curricula. Teachers were beginning to unionize and the National Education Association had recommended that the states align their standards nationally. To this end, states began making science class a mandatory requirement and many textbooks were addressing evolution.

At the same time, there was a rise in what began to be called “religious fundamentalism”. The term “religious fundamentalism” was actually coined in the 20’s, and it referred to the strict adherence to certain fundamental concepts of Christian faith, including the literal interpretation of the Bible.

These fundamentalists had a big problem with Darwin’s theory of evolution being taught to their children in science class. After all, the idea of the origin of life being credited to anything other than God is a direct contradiction to the Genesis creation account. In order to keep evolution out of the classroom many states began considering laws that would ban it from being taught.

At first glance, one is tempted to be judgemental of the “fundamentalists” of the 20’s for taking up a crusade to prevent the theory of evolution being taught alongside creationism. To bring a little context to the situation, however, this is an excellent place to insert a excerpt from the textbook in question, William Hunter’s A Civic Biology Presented in Problems, published in 1914: This paragraph is taken from the section titled The Races of Men, “If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals…At present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man and the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.”

This is the perfect example of the fact that the theory of evolution, definitely in its beginning, was unabashedly racist. I can’t imagine that even the most progressive agnostic or atheist today would approve of this very obviously unscientific information being included in a science text intended for educational purposes. Many will cry foul, and claim that religion, and the Bible in particular, have contributed to racist sentiment. However, it should be noted that any Christian harboring racist beliefs does so without any biblical corroboration. The creation account in Genesis makes clear that we are ALL descended from the same two people- Adam and Eve. Race is never even mentioned in the Bible. Today, the theory of evolution has divorced its racist roots.

This just goes to show that issues are not always black and white. Today, we can look back (with our new and improved, non- racist, theory of evolution) and proclaim that these Christians had no right to ban the secular creation account from the classroom. However, these “fundamentalists” were not dealing with the new and improved theory of evolution. They were dealing with a version that is even less compelling than the one espoused today.

It is true that religious individuals didn’t want their children being taught a curriculum that would cause them to question their faith, but it was not a cut and dry religious issue as secular history would recount, it was more complicated than that. I mentioned earlier that strides were being taken to move toward a national education standard. While a national standard of education certainly has its benefits, parents in the 20’s had an underlying issue- they didn’t want to give the government full control over what was taught in public schools. After all, public schools are funded by public tax dollars. Parents wanted to be sure they had a say in what was taught, rather than relinquishing control to the government.

So, in January of 1925, the Butler Act was introduced in the state of Tennessee and it was passed as law in March of the same year. This law established a $100- $500 fine for teaching evolution.

In response to anti-evolution laws, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) began to publicly advertise that they were looking for a “test case” to challenge the validity of these laws. The ACLU advertised that they would defend anyone accused with violating these anti-evolution laws.

In the small, economically struggling town of Dayton, Tennessee, a group of civic leaders read one such ad in a Chattanooga newspaper and hatched a plan while sitting at the table in Fred E. Robinson’s Drug Store where they met regularly.

Photos from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville digital library:

Hoping to resuscitate their ailing town with the influx of tourists and attention that a high profile trial would bring, this group of men enlisted John T. Scopes (a 24 year old college graduate who had taught algebra and physics for one year at Rhea County High School) to be the center of a trial hosted in their city. Scopes was chosen because he was well liked, and he didn’t have a family whose livelihood would be threatened if he ended up losing his job. Scopes recalled that while substituting in a science class the prior April, he had done an exam review out of the state approved biology book (Hunter’s “A Civic Biology”) and thought he had probably gone over the chapter on evolution. (Scopes later refuted this statement.) Scopes agreed to play along and this telegram was sent to the ACLU:

“Professor JT Scopes, teacher of science Rhea County high school, Dayton, Tenn will be arrested and charged with teaching evolution. Consent of superintendent of education for test case to be defended by you. Wire me collect if you wish to cooperate and arrest will follow.”

Photo of John T. Scopes

Secular history tends to glaze over this point, but it’s important to highlight the fact that this trial did not arise organically from Tennessee citizens who felt oppressed by the fact that evolution was being banned in the classroom. The ACLU was shopping for a test case and the civic leaders of the town of Dayton had ulterior motives for volunteering. It should be noted that although Scopes himself did not agree with the Butler Act, he was not atheist or agnostic. He, like many others, did not believe that the theory of evolution was necessarily incompatible with the Bible.

The ACLU agreed and Scopes was arrested on May 7, 1925. He was immediately released on $1,000 bond paid by the ACLU, so he never spent any time in jail. The trial that resulted is sometimes called the most famous trial in history and became a circus comparable to the legendary Barnum and Bailey.

The Scopes Monkey Trial

Rhea County Courthouse in 1925

The town of Dayton pulled out all the stops to prepare for what they hoped would be an onslaught of visitors. They formed a Scopes Trial Entertainment Committee which presided over the building of a tourist camp to accommodate visitors, added an outdoor speaking platform to the courthouse, added camera platforms inside the courthouse to accommodate reporters, turned Dayton’s main road into a festival ground complete with vendor stalls, relabeled the constables motorcycle the “monkeyville police”, businesses hung pictures of monkeys and apes in their windows, Fred Robinson’s drug store began serving “simian sodas”, and a famous chimpanzee dressed in a suit and bow tie was flaunted around town. Evangelists from all over came to Dayton to preach about the evils of evolution.

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Local shop owners taking advantage of the trial.

Scopes, Neal, and Rappleyea walking in front of huge “Read Your Bible” sign.

Joe Mendi, a chimpanzee movie performer was in attendance.

The Scopes Trial was the first trial to be broadcast nationwide and it was also filmed for newsreels that were distributed to movie theaters. Two of the most famous lawyers of the era prepared to face off:

William Jennings Bryan, an outspoken Christian and famed orator, was the prosecuting attorney. He was the leader of the Democratic party for 25-30 years and had run for president on the Democratic ticket three times. Bryan had served as secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson. Lest you erroneously equate Bryan’s outspoken Christianity with conservatism (a common trait in politics today), as secretary of state Bryan proved himself to be a true liberal progressive of his day by establishing the Federal income tax, downgrading the nation from the gold standard, championing minority rights and women’s sufferage, and establishing minimum wage, the departments of labor, health, education, and welfare just to name a few. (Not that some of these things weren’t good ideas at the time. Instead, they are prime examples of how good intentions can balloon into monstrosities.)

The famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, represented the defense. Darrow was an outspoken agnostic and critic of fundamentalism. He defended a lot of unpopular people and radical causes. Most notably, was his defense of Leopold and Loeb, two young men found guilty of murdering a young boy in what was called a “thrill killing” (just for the fun of it) in an effort to commit the perfect crime. Darrow kept them from getting the death penalty.

Darrow pictured left, and Bryan pictured right

Many aspects of society were completely different as compared to today, but one commonality shared is the media bias that was portrayed. Political cartoons of the day portrayed the favorable attention given to Darrow versus the mocking afforded to Bryan.

Political cartoon portraying Bryan as so naive that Darrow has to tell him Santa isn’t real.

Here Bryan is portrayed as “Don Quixote” taking up a pointless battle against the “windmill” of evolution.

The only legal question in the trial was whether or not Scopes had violated the Butler Act. However, both sides knew that this was a “test case” and ultimately Scopes’ guilt or innocence meant nothing.

These were the objectives of each side given in Bryan and Darrow’s own words:

Bryan: “First, to establish the right of the taxpayers to control what is taught in schools. Second, to draw a line between the teaching of evolution as a fact and teaching it as a theory. Third, to see that any teacher that might be found guilty of this offense should be given an opportunity to resign.”

*** Notice, Bryan states that his main goal is to place the control over what is taught in the hands of the public and designating that evolution is theory and not to be confused with fact. Interestingly, this is the same thing that most of us would like to achieve today- evolution taught alongside creationism, both as theories. Science class is not the place for indoctrination from either side of this argument. ***

Darrow (per his autobiography “The Story of My Life”): “My object and my only object, was to focus the attention of the country of the program of Mr. Bryan and the other fundamentalists in America.”

*** Notice, Darrow’s goal, rather than aiming for equal treatment for both sides (a fulfillment of separation of church and state), is stated as the much more personal (and bitter, if I might add) intention of exposing the prevalent teachings of fundamentalism as indoctrination. The focus of “religion vs science” was coming directly from Darrow. Even the ACLU viewed the Butler Act as an infringement on freedom of speech- not on freedom of religion.

As a matter of fact, due to Darrow’s repeated insults aimed at the judge and the jury, he was held in contempt of court.

Today, we would all laugh at Darrow’s entire presentation of his case to validate the theory of evolution. First of all, instead of focusing on all life coming from a single primitive cell (the foundation of evolution), they equated evolution with embryology. This illustrates the fact that scientists of the day actually had no idea how evolution was supposed to work. Embryology is the the study of life forming from a single cell. A sperm cell enters an egg cell (called conception), the cells then divide repeatedly and result in a fully formed organism. They argued that this was what evolution was all about- if you believe this, then you believe in evolution. Today we know that the two are unrelated.

Although embryology highlights that life does indeed form from one cell, that one cell is species specific and always gives rise to its same kind. For example, dogs will always have dogs, cats will always have cats, etc. Obviously, this is not to say that natural selection does not lead to changes within a species (the emergence of different types of dogs, cats, horses, etc.) However, nowhere do we witness any evidence of a dog evolving into a cat or any “kind” evolving into any other “kind”. To this day, science has been unable to provide even one example of a transitional form. Darwin himself expected in the years following his theory that a preponderance of evidence for his theory would be unearthed in the fossil record. Over a century has passed and scientists are still looking for this proof.

The testimony of Darrow’s expert witnesses would be nothing less than embarrassing by today’s standards. They all equated evolution with embryology and when asked to define evolution, their responses are some of the most unintelligible rambling you’ve ever heard. If you’re interested in reading the transcript of the trial complete with these ramblings, you can view it in its entirety at this link:

Interestingly, all evidence entered as support of evolution in the trial has been discredited today. For example, a fossilized tooth was entered into evidence in support of the existence of “Nebraska Man” as a transitional ape-man. The tooth was later found to be a fossilized pig tooth.

Darrow’s initially planned tactic was to have multiple scientists testify as to the scientific validity of evolution. However, the judge would not allow the jury to hear the testimony of the scientists due to the fact that the validity of evolution had nothing at all to do with whether or not Scopes was guilty of breaking the law, which was the only purpose of the trial. So, the jurors were not allowed to hear the scientists and their expert testimonies were entered into court records by deposition. Faced with this formidable obstacle, Darrow came up with a brilliant and unconventional plan of attack. He got Bryan to agree to take the stand as an expert witness to defend the Bible.

Why the judge would agree to allow the validity of the Bible to be questioned when he rightly refused to allow testimony on the validity of evolution is beyond me. Neither had anything to do with the case. The result of the judge’s decision not to allow expert testimony on evolution or creation, was that the jurors had both accounts explained by lawyers in lieu of experts. This proved to be Bryan’s biggest and most detrimental mistake.

Bryan, although undoubtedly an intelligent and educated Christian, was most definitely not a Bible scholar. Darrow proceeded with a line of questioning that focused, first, on illustrating Bryan’s belief in a mostly literal interpretation of the Bible, second, highlighting many supernatural (and therefore scientifically unexplainable) biblical accounts, and third, pointing out Bryan’s imprecise and sometimes contradictory responses. Bryan himself, had a compromised fundamentalist belief at best. His belief in the day age theory as opposed to the 6 day creation account, and a local rather than global flood, among other things, rendered him incapable of providing a consistent defense of either creation or biblical inerrancy. Darrow was particularly adept at making a mockery of Bryan’s belief that the creation account can be understood to impart that creation occurred over millions of years as opposed to 6 literal 24-hour days. Darrow took Bryant to task, reading directly from the biblical creation account as it is written- with the terms “morning” and “night” to define what the term “day” means in context.

Inside the courtroom.

Bryan had agreed to take the stand believing that Darrow would take the stand as an expert on evolution the next day. Instead, Darrow came in the next day and instructed the jury to find his client guilty as charged which ended the trial. The jury returned 10 minutes later with a guilty verdict. Scopes, who never took the stand, was fined $100. The goal of the ACLU at that point (and the reason Darrow recommended that Scopes be found guilty) was to appeal the verdict, ideally all the way to the Supreme Court in a case that would find laws like the Butler Act unconstitutional nationwide. However, that never occurred. Scopes’ appeal was overturned in the Tennessee Supreme Court on a technicality, and the ACLU had nothing left to pursue.

Five days after the trial ended, William Jennings Bryan died in his sleep during an afternoon nap.

Tennessee, the city of Dayton, religious fundamentalism, and anti-evolution laws were mocked in the media.

Darrow was a brilliant man. He succeeded in duping the judge as well as the prosecution into framing the argument as “religion vs science” which set, what has proved to be, an inescapable legal precedent of equating creation science with the promotion of a particular religious belief as opposed to the equation of secular science with an unbiased, non-religious collection of facts. We still operate under this fallacy today.

While the theories presented by creation science do corroborate the Bible, the only aspects of creation science that have a place in the classroom are the evidences that point to a Creator as the origin of life- not theological interpretation of the Bible. By the same token, the only aspects of secular science that have a place in the classroom are the evidences that corroborate their theory of the origin of life- not a secular “theology” that claims the superiority of their unproven theories negate the existence of a Creator.

In the beginning, I stated that we Christians share in the blame for the legal battle over science class. I say this because of the early fundamentalist Christian’s refusal to allow secular science to have a voice in the classroom. The creationists were made to look like fools in the media, but the most devastating effects of the trial wouldn’t be felt for decades. Bryan was hands down outwitted by Darrow in a court case that set a biased legal precedent that proves insurmountable to this day.

Bryan’s death and the trial coverage had coalesced the anti-evolution movement into an entire social movement. Despite the negative media portrayal, many states tried unsuccessfully to introduce similar laws in the following years. Arkansas and Mississippi, however, did pass laws banning the teaching of evolution. Many textbook publishers quietly removed references to evolution from their textbooks. Attempts to repeal the Butler Act in Tennessee began in 1935, but they all failed. The Butler Act was on the books until 1967.

In 1955, a play based on the Scopes trial came out called Inherit the Wind. The play was made into a movie in 1960 and that movie was redone in 1990. However, neither the play or the movies are historically accurate. They portray the trial as a witch hunt carried out by lynch mobs of fundamentalists against Scopes, with no mention of the fact that the entire trial was a set up.

In fact, Scopes himself seemed to be bothered by his conscience and to take issue with the way the trial played out. In a recorded conversation with William K. Hutchinson of the International News Service that took place in the last days of the trial, Scopes said, “There is something I must tell you. It’s worried me. I didn’t violate the law…I never taught the evolution lesson…The kids they put on the stand couldn’t remember what I taught 3 months ago. They were coached by the lawyers.”

The Scopes Trial, historically, had an incredible effect on public education and the legal battles that have ensued in the years to follow. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take a walk through the legal history that has resulted in cementing the fallacy that secular science is unbiased and creation science is a collection of unfounded myths. I’ll illustrate how the theory of evolution has been elevated to a fact protected by law, not on its scientific merit- but on its erroneously proclaimed non “religious” basis.