Inherit the wind and the teaching of Evolution The TV movie, Inherit the wind, was made to portray the 1925 “Scopes Monkey Trial. ” The original 1960 version of this movie have been shown in classrooms across the nation, and is said to be historical. It has influenced many people against evolution. From just seeing the movie, anyone can conclude that religious fundamentalist are unreasonable, while evolutionist are rational thinkers. In the discussion below, several parts of the movie are compared with the transcipt of the trial. It became a national event, covered by major papers and on live radio.
Newspapermen and lawyers crowded the hotel. Even the famous reporter E. K. Hornbeck reported on the trial for The Baltimore Sun. The first major discrepancy concerns the beginning of the case. In the movie a minister, lawyer, and policeman go into the clasroom where Cates(representing John Scopes) is teaching evolution. They place him under arrest, and take him off to jail. The fact is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wanted a test case to nullify the Butler Act, which said that no public school teacher could deny the Biblical creation account and teach that man was descended from apes.
The Chattanoga Daily Newspaper were looking for a teacher to test the law in the courts. A local mine operator, George Rappleyea, had a grudge against churches, and pursuaded Scopes to agree to be arrested. Scopes was not a biology teacher, he was the football coach. He only filled in for two weeks for the regular biology teacher, who was ill. During this time, the schedule called for a class on evolution. Scopes is quoted as telling Wiliam E. Hutchinson of the International News Service, “There’s something I must tell you. It’s worried me. I didn’t violate the law… I never taught that lesson on evolution.
I skipped it, I was doing something else that day. Those kids they put on the stand couldn’t remember what they learned three months ago. They were coached by the lawyers. ” In the movie Cates was shown as being held in jail the whole time of the trial. He is portrayed as being a dedicated teacher, willing to be prosecuted for standing up for the truth. The fact is Scopes was arrested on a warrant sought out by Rappleyea, and then was immediately released on 1000 bail. He was never put in jail. In the movie lawyers and a witness refer to a book by Darwin being used in class.
The Darwin book was never used in the classroom–the class textbook was Civic Biology by Hunter. In the movie the prosecuting lawyer, Matthew Brady (representing William Jennings Bryan) is shown as a pompous, ignorant bigot. Most people would dislike this character. The fact is Bryan was the likeable and highly respected leader of the Democratic party for many years; three times he was the national Democratic presidental nominee; he served as Secretary of the State under Woodrow Wilson. He was one of the leaders in obtaining women’s right to vote. The trial transcipt shows that his manner in the courtroom was always courteous.
In the contrast, defense attorney Clarence Darrow was cited for contempt of court, and the transcript shows that he was rude to the witnesses and Judge Raulston. In the movie Brady testified on the stand that he had never read any of Darwin’s books. He expressed contempt for any knowledge outside the Bible. Brady would not allow Darwin’s books to be placed in evidence. The fact is Bryan had read Origin of Species in 1905 (20 years earlier). He had published several articles critizing evolution. The actual transcript shows Bryan asking witnesses questions about evolution, showing that he had a good understanding of it.
Bryan himself entered Darwin’s Descent of Man into evidence, to show that it did teach that man descended from apes. In the movie Cates fianc’e, Rachel Brown, is put through an ordeal on the witness stand. Brady questions her until she is in tears, asking her questions about Cates’ religious beliefs. The fact is that there were no female witnesses at all. Scopes had no fianc’e, but had dated several local girls. In the movie Brady had been made an honorary colonel; Drummond objected to this title of respect for his opponent, so he was given a title of “temporary honorary colonel. In fact this courtroom scene did not occur. In Tennessee the title of “Colonel” was often used for all officers of the court. Darrow and Bryan both being adressed in this way. Bryan was actually a real colonel in the U. S. Army. In the movie Drummond objects to a courtroom annoncement of prayer meeting that night, and objects to a banner over the courthouse entrance saying “Read Your Bible Daily. ” The fact is there was no such announcement. Darrow did object that each day’s courtroom session was opened with prayer; but this was normal practice in some courtrooms.
In the movie the defense lawyer, Henry Drummond (representing Clarence Darrow), got Brady on the witness stand, asked him questions about his Bible beliefs, and by questioning miracles led him to make a fool of himself. Drummond waived his right to a summation speech, and the jury retired for deliberation. The fact is Bryan did not claim literal 24 hour days for the period of creation. Another fact is Bryan agreed to go on the stand to explain his Bible beliefs, on the condition that Darrow would also become a witness to dicuss his beliefs on evolution. The judge also agreed to this condition.
Darrow did put Bryan through a trying questioning. When he finished, it should have been Bryan’s turn to question Darrow, Darrow surprised everyone by announcing that his client pleaded quilty. Darrow requsted that the judge issue a direct verdict of quilty. This stopped the trial. Bryan objected wanting to question Darrow, but it was too late. Scopes was already quilty. The jury never retired for deliberation. Hornbeck continues to mock Brady after learning of his death, and Drummond points out that “Brady had the same right as Cates: the right to be wrong. Then Drummond leaves the courtroom with a Bible and a copy of Darwin’s on the Origin of Species. In the movie Brady was frustrated in his attempt to give a summation, made a pitiful speech to an emptying coutyroom, fell over, and died. The fact is Bryan died in his sleep five days later. His summation speech, although not giving in court, was published as part of the original transcript. He argued effectively against the technical points in Darwin’s ” Descent of Man. ” The wonderful aspect of Inherit the Wind is that the characters are not symbols representing opposing veiwpoints.
They are very complex, deeply human characters, each with their own strengths and flaws. All in all, despite any arguement either way, I have my own beleif in the matter. That, as a Scientist you can believe in God and study Science, as in evolution. Forget the Bible and Darwin’s book. They are two totally seperate things. No scientific theory, including evolution, can have any threat to evolution. Science is simply an inguiry to facts and nature of the world, while religion is a search for ethics and morals. They should be equal, respected partners, each vital to human existence in it’s own way.
The whole story over evolution is misguided. Science without evolution is like history without George Washington. Accepting evolution isn’t rejecting religion. Both can, and should exist together. A person can believe in evolution and God. I don’t see any reason why we should be forced to believe in what everyone else believes in. Since the beginning of history there have been many explanations for events that seem out of human control. I believe that we should have the right to expand our minds, no matter what we beleive in. Books are an amazing source of learning. I love to learn, read, and I beleive in God!