A third sign of conservatism in the nineteen twenties was the effort by some Americans to ban schoolbooks on modern science. Most of the Americans who supported these efforts were conservative rural Americans who believed in the traditional ideas of the Protestant Christian church. Many of them were fearful of the many changes that had taken place in American society.
Science became an enemy to many of these traditional, religious Americans. Science seemed to challenge the most basic ideas taught in the Bible. The conflict burst into a major public debate in nineteen twenty-five in a trial over Charles Darwin's idea of evolution.
British scientist Charles Darwin published his books "The Origin of the Species" and "The Descent of Man" in the nineteenth century. The books explained Darwin's idea that humans developed over millions of years from apes and other animals.
Most Europeans and educated people accepted Darwin's theory by the end of the nineteenth century. But the book had little effect in rural parts of the United States until the nineteen twenties.
William Jennings Bryan led the attack on Darwin's ideas. Bryan was a rural Democrat who ran twice for president. He lost both times. But Bryan remained popular among many traditional Americans.
Bryan told his followers that the theory of evolution was evil, because it challenged the traditional idea that God created the world in six days. He accused scientists of violating God's words in the Bible.
Bryan and his supporters called on local school officials to ban the teaching of evolution.