The creation and evolution controversy, also known as the creation vs. evolution controversy or the origins debate, is a factual debate over how life was created and which version of the origins of life should be taught to children. The debate is sometimes cast as solely a political debate, as if it weren't necessary that one side or the other be factually correct, but at its root the debate is over facts and evidence. On one side of the creation and evolution controversy are the creationists, which assert that God created all life on Earth as described in the Bible, and on the other side are the advocates of Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection, which asserts that all organisms evolved incrementally over millions of years.
Though sometimes portrayed as a global struggle of science against religion, the creation and evolution controversy is mostly considered a United States phenomenon, especially occurring in hotspots of religious conservatism such as the Midwest and the South. In other places throughout the world, such as Europe, Christians and Jews generally accept Darwin's theory of evolution and consider the assertion in the Biblical book of Genesis, that God created all life in six days, as metaphorical. American creationists see this passage as literal, a school of thought known as Biblical literalism.
One of the most significant historical blowups in the creation and evolution debate was the Scopes Trial, often called the Scopes Monkey Trial, which was held in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. After World War I, the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy was raging in America, a movement which led to the introduction of legislation in 15 states banning the teaching of evolutionary theory in classrooms. Such legislation passed in Tennessee. A biology teacher, John Scopes, flaunted the law by teaching evolution in his classroom, and was arrested. The ensuing trial became a media circus, attracting international attention to the case. Scopes was ultimately convicted and fined, but so much sympathetic media attention was given to his side of the story that many advocates of evolution considered it to be a minor victory. Still, evolution continued to be omitted from biology textbooks in some states for many years.
The creation and evolution debate is still as intense today as it was in 1925, though public opinion has shifted in favor of the teaching of evolution. Creationists have attempted to gain credibility for their perspective by introducing the term "intelligent design" in lieu of "creationism," while atheist evolutionists like Richard Dawkins have initiated a new call to arms for the teaching of scientific consensus in schools. It remains to be seen how the controversy will unfold, but a few quick conversations with members of the opposing sides shows that the confrontation is far from over.