Friday, July 20, 2007



Monday, July 20, 1925
When court reconvened following lunch, Darrow interrupted the presentation of testimony to apologize for his comments on Friday. Townspeople had treated him courteously, Darrow cooed, and he should not have responded to the court as he did. "One thing slipped out after another," Darrow explained, "and I want to apologize to the court for it." Rising to his feet, Raulston dismissed the contempt citation with words that amazed the defense. After discussing the honor of Tennessee, he recited from memory a long religious poem about forgiveness and accepted Darrow's apology in the name of Christ. "We forgive him," the judge said of Darrow in a voice shaking with emotion, "and we command him to go back home and live in his heart the words of the Man who said: 'If you thirst come unto Me and I will give thee life.'" Christianity represented more than civil religion in this court. ...

Then, with the jury still excused, Hays called Bryan as the defense's final expert on the Bible and the Commoner again proved cooperative. Up to this point, Stewart had masterfully confined the proceedings and, with help from a friendly judge, controlled his wily opponents. Indeed, Governor Peay had just wired the young prosecutor, "You are handling the case like a veteran and I am proud of you." Yet Stewart could not control his impetuous co-counsel and the judge seemed eager to hear the Peerless Leader defend the faith. "All the lawyers leaped to their feet at once," Scopes recalled." Ben McKenzie objected. Stewart seethed with anger. Bryan consented solely on condition that he later get to interrogate Darrow, Malone, and Hays. "All three at once?" Darrow asked. As Bryan explained early in his testimony, "They did not come here to try this case, . . . They came here to try revealed religion. I am here to defend it, and they can ask me any questions they please." Darrow did just that.

- Edward J. Larson, Summer for the Gods

Bryan testified for an hour and a half. Throughout that time he tried to evade. The more he did so, the more angry Darrow became. ...

Did Bryan know how old the earth was? No, he didn't. Wasn't there some scientist that he respected? He named George M. Price and "a man named Wright, who taught at Oberlin." Darrow called them mountebanks.

By this time Bryan's self-esteem was suppurating, and his wits entirely deserted him. Having discredited himself with everybody who did not believe in the literal truth of the Bible, he now destroyed himself with those who did. It took one deft question by Darrow, and a six-word reply.

Darrow asked: "Do you think the earth was made in six days ?"

Bryan: "Not six days of twenty-four hours."

(Sitting under a tree at the fringes of the crowd, surrounded by fundamentalists, Kirtley Mather heard the startled gasps. His neighbors were aghast. "What does he want to say that for?" they
demanded of each other.)

Stewart again tried to stop it. "What," he asked, "is the purpose of this examination ?"

Not even waiting for the judge to answer, Bryan said that the defense lawyers had "no other purpose than ridiculing every Christian who believes in the Bible."

Darrow said directly to Bryan: "We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States and you know it -- and that is all." ...

Now Bryan's nervous condition was eloquent. His hands trembled, his lips were quivering, his face was suffused and dark. He broke completely. He said:

"Your Honor, I think I can shorten this testimony." He would answer the question. Yes, he would. And he jumped to his feet and turned to the people with outstretched hands and he shouted at an almost hysterical pitch:

"I want the world to know that this man, who does not believe in a God, is trying to use a court in Tennessee --"

Darrow: "I object to that."

Bryan: "-- to slur at it --"

Darrow: "I object to your statement. I am examining you on your fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes."

And the judge adjourned court for the day.

- Ray Ginger, Six Days or Forever?


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

. . . . .


How to Support Science Education