Scopes Transcript: Darrow’s examination of Bryan

WHEN NEWS IS SCARCE, your Curmudgeon still provides you with reading material. Check this out: Darrow’s examination of Bryan. Scroll down just a bit to find it.

This isn’t the script from the movie, Inherit the Wind. This is from the actual trial transcript, so you can compare it to your memory of the movie scene.

It reads just like an internet debate with a creationist that one of us might have today, but this was back in 1925 — only fourscore and three years ago. Here are some excerpts:

The Court–If you ask him [Bryan] about any confidential matter, I will protect him, of course.
Darrow–On scientific matters, Col. Bryan can speak for himself.
[…]
Bryan–Where do you want me to sit?
The Court–Mr. Bryan, you are not objecting to going on the stand?
Bryan–Not at all.
The Court–Do you want Mr. Bryan sworn?
Darrow–No.
Bryan–I can make affirmation; I can say “So help me God, I will tell the truth.”
Darrow–No, I take it you will tell the truth, Mr. Bryan.

That’s how it began. Continuing:

Examination of W.J. Bryan by Clarence Darrow, of counsel for the defense:
Q–The Bible says Joshua commanded the sun to stand still for the purpose of lengthening the day, doesn’t it, and you believe it?
A–I do.
Q–Do you believe at that time the entire sun went around the earth?
A–No, I believe that the earth goes around the sun.
Q–Do you believe that the men who wrote it thought that the day could be lengthened or that the sun could be stopped?
A–I don’t know what they thought.
[…]
Mr. Darrow–I read that years ago. Can you answer my question directly? If the day was lengthened by stopping either the earth or the sun, it must have been the earth?
A–Well, I should say so.
Q– Now, Mr. Bryan, have you ever pondered what would have happened to the earth if it had stood still?
A–No.
Q–You have not?
A– No; the God I believe in could have taken care of that, Mr. Darrow.
Q– I see. Have you ever pondered what would naturally happen to the earth if it stood still suddenly?
A– No.

Neat stuff, huh? Here’s one more snippet:

Q–You believe the story of the flood to be a literal interpretation?
A–Yes, sir.
Q–When was that Flood?
A–I would not attempt to fix the date. The date is fixed, as suggested this morning.
Q–About 4004 B.C.?
A–That has been the estimate of a man that is accepted today. I would not say it is accurate.
Q–That estimate is printed in the Bible?
A–Everybody knows, at least, I think most of the people know, that was the estimate given.
Q–But what do you think that the Bible, itself says? Don’t you know how it was arrived at?
A–I never made a calculation.
Q–A calculation from what?
A–I could not say.
Q–From the generations of man?
A–I would not want to say that.
Q–What do you think?
A–I do not think about things I don’t think about.
Q–Do you think about things you do think about?
A–Well, sometimes.

You’re hooked, right? Okay, here’s a whole website for you: Tennessee vs. John Scopes.

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