May 30, 2000

The American TV network NBC recently featured the defamatory anti-Christian movie Inherit the Wind. This film version—starring Oscar winners Jack Lemmon and the late George C. Scott—is the fictionalized account of the famous Scopes “monkey trial” of Dayton, Tennessee. Unfortunately, millions of viewers probably will take Inherit the Wind as a true depiction of the actual trial. (The film’s title, by the way, comes from Proverbs 11:29.)

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The trial’s 75th anniversary is being celebrated this year by secular humanists, who still believe that the court proceedings showed the intellectual bankruptcy of the Christian faith. As our Creation magazine reprint (below) reports, however, the transcript of this “trial of the century” actually reveals how bankrupt evolution “science” was back in the ’20s. In fact, almost all of the evidence put forward at the trial—and added to the court transcript and printed in the newspapers—has been thrown out today, even by evolutionists themselves.

The NBC movie Inherit the Wind bears little resemblance to the real trial, but most viewers would not know that. For example, the opening scene has the science teacher—a heroic, noble, and handsome character—arrested in the middle of a science lesson on evolution. In reality, the real Scopes was not that upright: he never taught evolution, but lied that he had. He was a willing “guinea pig” to test the laws of Tennessee that, at the time, forbade the teaching of evolution.

Christians caricatured

The film portrays most of Dayton’s Christians as sanctimonious, strutting, intolerant, and mean-spirited. This includes scenes when the science teacher is burned in effigy and when the town’s spiritual leader, Rev. Brown, rants like a lunatic against evolution. (The Christian/creationist lawyer also suffers a mental breakdown in the courtroom at the end of the film.) Actually, the residents of Dayton were generally quite hospitable.

The script also portrays Christians as ignorant and anti-intellectual for believing the Bible. A Baltimore newspaperman says that the town’s “intellectual quotient is zero.” Christians are shown unable to defend their faith regarding such topics as Joshua’s account of a long day, a young age for the Earth, etc. or to mount any challenge to the “incontrovertible” evidence for evolution. (See our Q&A section for answers.)

The real lessons to be learned from the Scopes schoolroom

The film got one thing right, however. It is indeed a “crime” to unfairly censor an opposing view in the classroom. Seventy-five years later, the lesson of the Scopes trial is lost on secular humanists, who today seek to censor any evidence or interpretation of that evidence that would be contrary to the dogma of evolution.

For Christians, the lesson to be learned from the Scopes trial is that we must obey the Apostle Peter’s command (1 Peter 3:15) to be able to give answers for our faith. It’s not surprising that more than one historian has said that the poor defense of the Christian faith in 1925 led to a general decline of the influence of Christianity in the United States, so much so that many now call America a “post-Christian” nation.

For further reading on this topic, read the 1997 Creation magazine article featuring an historical analysis of the Scopes Trial entitled Inherit the Wind.

Published: 14 February 2006