January 9, 2006


For my weekly old-movie B&W feature (James Lileks, 1/09/06)

For my weekly old-movie B&W feature I watched “Inherit the Wind,” which for some reason I believed was about the Scopes trial, not based on it. The IMDB comments give it the usual raves, and yes, Spencer Tracy is great, if that’s not a tautology. But for once I actually had sympathy for the prosecution. Not because I believed in their case, Lord no. I accept evolution; never questioned it, although I always felt it was the means by which a Great and Mysterious force gave us complex eyes, self-awareness, dogs, etc. The whole happened-by-accident thing never had much pull with me, intellectually or emotionally. Anyway. The movie is so self-righteous,, so self-impressed, it ends up equating belief with thoughtless dogma and intellectual rigidity. While I don’t doubt that there were, and of course are, people who regard any sort of intellectual curiosity towards Biblical literacy as prima facie evidence of some wicked desire to topple God, there wasn’t a single smart theist in the room.

There's a reason, of course, that it could only be based on the case rather than derived directly from the case: Mr. Bryan won the verdict, the argument with Darrow (which was revealingly theological), and the argument in the longer term. Inherit the Wind is ultimately just the Darwinist version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 9, 2006 7:36 AM
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