I remember the first time I heard about the Scopes trial. My dad was talking about Pat Robertson running for President. He said it was good that Christians were getting involved in politics. He was a Christian and loved Political Science.
I was astounded at the idea of Robertson running for President. I thought, “Don’t you have have some experience to do the job well?” I was worried he wouldn’t know how to do it right.
But Dad was telling me that he didn’t think Robertson would win, but that it was good for Christians to stop burying their heads in the sand and join the world of politics again.
“Why did they stop?”
“It was after the Scopes trial. Christians were so humliated that they just retreated from the public eye.”
After listening to the dramatic re-enactment of the Scopes trial, I can understand why they were humiliated.
In 1925, the schoolteacher John Scopes volunteered to stand trial for teaching evolution in a public school. It was coming sooner or later, so he stepped up and made it sooner.
Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan came into the courtroom and battled out the sticky issue of church and state separation, and at the same time showcased the problem of fundamentalist thinking when it encounters new ideas.
Let me be clear:
every human being is a fundamentalist in some respect. We all have some belief or other which is untouchable.
That is not to say we are excused from honest ree-examination. But it’s good to remember that we are all susceptible to being dogmatic at times.
Bryan, in this case, was the dogmatic. He was the one at the trial who was famous, and supposed to be the big gun.
But when he was cross-examined by Darrow, he ended up looking a fool. Well, in that particular case, he WAS a fool. He was ‘standing by the word of the Almighty’. Right or wrong.
And he was wrong. He was wrong because he was not being intellectually honest and examining the fact.
I firmly believe in Truth. I believe that the truth, or true thing, was there before me, and will be there after me. It is not my job to change the truth, it is my job to adapt myself into acceptance and understanding of the truth.
Bryan was not adapting. THAT is what made him look like a fool.
He didn’t learn his lesson, either. He was humiliated in the trial, but did not learn humble himself and try to be honest with the world in front of him.