A Dramatization of Science:
The Play, Inherit the Wind
by Loretta F. Kasper, Ph.D.
Inherit the Wind is a play based on the
Scopes Monkey Trial. The Scopes Monkey
Trial juxtaposed, or placed, science, in the
Scopes Trial took place in
attorney for the prosecution was William Jennings Bryan.
The play, Inherit the Wind, represents a fictionalized account of a historical event. The two main characters in the film who represent the two antithetical, or opposing, points of view are Matthew Brady and Henry Drummond. Matthew Brady argues for the Creationist viewpoint and cries out against "the gods of science." Brady's legal argument is based primarily on the interpretation of biblical/religious dogma, or belief. Brady argues for the creationist position by saying that scientists cannot explain the most basic of God's creations, e.g., the watermelon. Brady believes that science could not be used to explain creation (religion). He argues that since God made everything on earth, he can change everything, even Natural Law. He says that we should only believe in the things that are in the Bible. Brady quotes Bishop Usher, an "authority ," as to the time of creation. According to Bishop Usher the earth was created in the fall of the year, 4004 B.C. at . Therefore, Brady's argument is totally based on biblical precepts, or principles, and is not the kind of evidence that is usually presented in a court of law. Brady presents his opinion as fact, and because he is considered to be a respected authority, the citizens of the town are persuaded by his argument.
Drummond's legal arguments are different.
Drummond represents the Evolutionist viewpoint held by Clarence
Darrow. Drummond argues that our fundamental right to think was
on trial. He states that "truth has
meaning" and that "we're here to serve truth." Drummond argues that the individual human
mind is holy and that an idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. He says that the advance of man's knowledge
is a miracle. He asks Brady if we are to
accept everything on faith, then why did God plague us with the power to think? He counters Brady's argument that we should
only believe in the things that are in the Bible by asking if a tractor or a telephone are
sinful because neither is in the Bible.
He calls several scientists as expert witnesses on
uses Brady's own beliefs to deconstruct
Brady's legal reasoning, thereby trying to prove that the theory of evolution
can be blended with the belief in creation. Drummond asks Brady how he knows
Inherit the Wind presents us with
several antithetical positions: custom versus progress, religion versus
science, old versus new. Legally
speaking, the defendant had broken the law; he had in fact taught
Drummond and Brady, the two protagonists in the play, each make powerful and passionate statements in support of their respective, antithetical positions. We can analyze the method and the effectiveness of the legal arguments presented by Brady and Drummond. These arguments and counterarguments can provide us with an effective model for how to persuade and convince, both orally and in writing.