Friday, August 05, 2005


Galley Hoss Chris Levenick has an outstanding piece in the Wall Street Journal on how the Scopes trial reshaped the relationship between science and religion:
At the time of the trial, the nascent progressive movement drew much of its strength from the perfectionist impulses of evangelical Protestantism. That alliance began to dissolve at the trial, when two lions of the American left turned on one another.

Leading Scopes's defense was Clarence Darrow, a champion of progressive causes and an outspoken agnostic. Among the prosecutors was William Jennings Bryan, a three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a stalwart defender of traditional Christianity. The two had long worked together for social reform, but in Dayton Darrow treated Bryan with contempt. In the trial's climactic scene, Darrow called Bryan to the stand, where he sneered at the witness for "insult[ing] every man of science and learning in the world because he does not believe in your fool religion."

And so the culture war came. For the first time, coastal elites descended on small-town America, calling its citizens stupid and their beliefs backward. And though fundamentalism may have looked worse at the time, the longer-term damage was to progressivism; it was at Dayton that the movement began to lose its popular appeal.

Bryan, after all, was to the left of most Democrats today, but his followers found that they could not keep company with those who so disdained their faith. Nowadays, when liberalism's leading strategists wonder what's the matter with Kansas, they could do worse than to look back to Tennessee--and to their own caustic dismissive of serious Christians.

Good stuff.

1 comment:

Jakester said...

Well, if serious Christians want to ban the teaching of Evolution, prosecute someone for it and claim the Genesis story is literal, they deserve to be treated with contempt. It's funny that the Right should always be crying victims of PC. But when they torment someone else, they cry like little babies about being criticized by the "elite"(or people who don't believe their simpleminded crap). It's funny how the Right will attack leftists professors who spout a lot of nonsense on the grounds that Science, History or Economics proves them wrong, which is fine because they are operating in the realm of rationalism. But when someone else criticizes, or even questions their religious fables and myths, they scream like pigs about how the elite is oppressing them and erupt in an illogical, irrational defence of them. If you want to go out in public and wear your religious beliefs on your sleeve, don't cry when you get ridiculed.