Culture, Religion

The Trial of the (Last) Century

In honor of the 83 year and 10 month anniversary of the so-called Scopes monkey trial (conceived as a publicity ploy by the city elders of Dayton, Tennessee and ending up as a film polemicizing against the McCarthy witchhunts) I bring you the all-important Jewish connection.

One aspect of the defense strategy was to produce expert witnesses who argued that there was no contradiction between the biblical accounts of creation and the theory of evolution. Although the judge ultimately agreed to the prosecution’s motion to not allow the experts to testify, their testimony was read into the record (and became a part of the mythical trial in the form of “Clarence Darrow’s” [=Spencer Tracy’s] cross examination of William Jennings Bryan [=Frederic March]). One of the experts on Bible who made the argument that all the problems stem not from the bible but from the King James translation, was none other than Rabbi Herman Rosenwasser (HUC ordainee, 1908; MA from the Western Reserve University of Cleveland in semitics and philosophy). He contributed the following to the defense:

In the first chapter of Genesis, the word ‘Adam’ is used. The word Adam means a living organism containing blood. If we are descended from Adam we are descended from a lower order—a living, purely organism containing blood. If that is a lower order of animal, then Genesis itself teaches that man is descended from a lower order of animals.

and also

If the Hebrew Bible was properly translated and understood, one would not find any conflict with the theory of evolution which would prevent him from accepting both. [creation and evolution]

(His full testimony is available here at page 227.)
While both of these claims (the former even more than the latter) are, you know… hooey, they did make for good cinema.
Happy Scopes week!

One thought on “The Trial of the (Last) Century

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.