Not too long ago, I was traveling through Paducah with my brother-in-law, who is a retired school teacher. I knew that he taught history and would be interested in the subject I was going to bring up. So I asked “Did you know that John T. Scopes is buried right here, in Paducah?” He said he did not know that. Since we were only a few blocks away from the grave, I turned the car in that direction and took him to see it.
For those not familiar with John Scopes, he was the science teacher (twenty-four years old at the time) who was charged with violating Tennessee state law by teaching evolution in a high school biology class. The whole arrest was actually a publicity stunt put on by the American Civil Liberties Union to test the law and to shame people out of their opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schools. In the course of the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” he was found guilty and was fined $100 for the offense.
Scopes did not stay in the public spotlight very long, but worked in the oil industry and died in 1970. Having been born in Paducah, his body was brought back to Oak Grove Cemetery for burial. From what I can tell, John Scopes did not seem to be deeply involved in the belief or the teaching of evolution. However, from that time forward, his name was associated with the subject.
Evolution, as seen in its general theory, is based on the assumption that life began from non-life. In its essence, it is opposed to the reality of and existence of a Creator (God). As a Christian I do not believe it, nor can I conceive of a world without a Creator. Not only would such belief cancel my religion, it would demolish the possibility of one major teaching which not only fascinates me, but compels me on in life: the hope of eternal life.
Christians believe that life on earth “is not all there is to it.” When a loved who is a Christian dies, we cling to the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:13, which admonish us not to “grieve as others do, who have no hope.” If evolution is true, there is no God, no Christ, no resurrection—therefore, no hope. What an utterly sad state of existence! (See 1 Corinthians 15:17, 19)
Oak Grove Cemetery has a series of named roads within it. The grave of John T. Scopes lies at the end of the main street, Myrtle Avenue, providing easy access for those who want to see it. During our visit, I saw another road, beside the grave. Since then I have pondered a deep irony. For, within just a few feet of the body of a man whose name is forever linked to a theory— that if true, dissolves all our hope—is a road named... Hope Avenue.