“Did My Ancestors Come From Monkeys“- circa 1910

This comic postcard from the Bamforth Company touches on a topic that was not always humorous to audiences of the early 20th Century.

Although 15 years before the national hoopla of the “Scopes Monkey Trial” (in which a high school science teacher in Tennessee was prosecuted for discussing Evolution), this postcard asks the crudely reductionist question that was too often the popular frame for this debate.

(Editorial Aside: Any time the topic of  Evolution is raised as “Did Man come from Monkeys?”, you should probably walk away.  That humans and simians had common ancestral roots is a very different question.)

We may have forgotten how seriously popular piety was threatened by the emergence of Evolutionary theory.

The threat was felt especially strongly among conservative Protestants who emphasized a literal reading of Scripture.

Protestant denominations split along a Modernist/Fundamentalist divide over theological and cultural controversies related to science and to textual scrutiny of sacred texts.

In our own day, we can see how threats to received “truths” can create convulsions in the social, political, and cultural realm.

In the midst of angry argumentation, It may be the course of wisdom to adapt the detached, ironic and playful tone of Mother.


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