On this day as I write this, Alabama made us smile. I never thought I could say that, but it happened. It gave us hope. Not a solution, but hope that the future may yet be better than the present. And so, because the words spoken by Spencer Tracy are more true today than ever before, let us remember “Inherit the Wind” and the Scopes Trial during which they put the future on trial.

When the jury was polled, the future lost.

scopes trial image 2The Scopes Trial, officially The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and typically referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was a famous trial in  1925. In it, a substitute high school teacher — John Scopes — was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school.

The trial was deliberately staged in the town of Dayton, Tennessee to attract publicity. Scopes was unsure whether he actually had taught evolution, but he purposely incriminated himself so the case would have a defendant.

William Jennings Bryan argued for the prosecution, Clarence Darrow for Scopes and the defense. The trial publicized the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy. This pitted Modernists — who believed evolution and religion were reconcilable — against Fundamentalists, who believed the word of God (as revealed in the bible) was the encapsulation of all human knowledge.

scopes trial image 1

Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, though the verdict was overturned on a technicality. Despite all the publicity and hoopla, the issue was never truly settled and remains a political, religious and emotional issue today, which doesn’t say much about our ability to advance our society.

Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding.

It’s a great line from a great film based on an historic trial that settled nothing and left the controversy between science and creationism alive and well, as much of a political hot potato today as it was 100 years ago.


Inherit the Wind (1960), was directed by Stanley Kramer. Much of the script was taken from the actual transcripts of the 1925 trial. With a few minor changes of name, fundamentalism has morphed into creationism. We are stuck in the same conflict today.

Categories: #American-history, film, Movies, Religion, Science

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17 replies

  1. Your blogs are not showing up in my reader and often, when I try to load your blog, it doesn’t load, it tries and fails. I’m also not being allowed “like” anything, so if you miss me and wonder if I’ve become suddenly hostile no, there’s nothing going on. Probably a browser thing. I’m using Safari which I’ve never liked much…


    • I’m having that problem with a couple of people — you, Cee that I know about. I tried to fix Cee’s post, but it didn’t work. I’m going to try to delete and then re-add both of you and see. Yes, it’s probably another thing with WordPress. Sometimes, you actually have to get in touch and they really have to fix it. They are pretty good about fixing stuff, though. Surprisingly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if the Trump Administration will try to ban evolutionary as a topic in science/history textbooks in the future, to satisfy his base.


  3. I’m wondering what the recent revelations from the Pentagon and their research in UFO’s will have on everything?


  4. I think anyone who doesn’t believe in science should not be able to benefit from it. Let’s take away every bit of technology that was created using science from these people. At the very least we wouldn’t have to listen to the president’s latest Tweet 😉


  5. A great movie, but as you noted, a sad reminder that we still haven’t settled the matter of evolution versus creationism, although one is based upon a ton of scientific evidence and the other is based upon a book of fairy tales.

    And speaking of sad reminders, the Senate just passed the GOP tax bill along strict party lines. And the rich get richer.


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