Freedom Evolves From Thought

Eric Stiffler

24 October 2012

            Evolution sounded like finger nails scraping on a black board when I was younger. My grandmother raised me and instilled in me a fear of asking questions about where we came from or how certain phenomenon were explained through science. Thinking of evolution feared me more than saying any curse word known to an adolescent. My grandmother would say things like, “Never question the word of God.” Evaluating this as an adult, my thinking was left to the heathens. My science teacher taught evolution among many wonderful facts about the natural word, but my mind was closed and intelligence was oppressed. The battle in my mind as an adolescent relates to the story of Inherent the Wind. The movie shows the thin line societies have between reverting backward or progressing forward to a freer people.

            Bertram Cates violates the law of a southern town by teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to his students. The sleepy town fills with outsiders and two famous lawyers come to the aid of the defense and the prosecution. Cates’ star lead degrades to a sub-par role for the rest of the film as the two lawyers promote to star characters. The battle for teaching the literal word of The Bible or letting the mind decide on its own what is true begins. Anger and hate build rapidly as Henry Drummond fights back against the law that jailed Cates. A romance between the defendant and the minister’s daughter shakes emotions as she fights the decision to pick freedom of love or obedience to faith. Radio broadcasters air the trial so the whole world can hear.

            Sometimes scientist do not have the correct information and teach ignorant, but we could never find the truth if freedom to learn was not given. Inherent the Wind loosely depicts the Scopes trail of 1925. John Scopes taught the dissent of man out of a text book that was incorrect in its approach. The book said the poor were lower class of humans and needed to be killed. Although the statement was very ignorant and opinionated, the idea could never be corrected if society cut the line and stopped learning. Scientist Eugenie Scott says, “We would not have made . . . discovery’s if we had decided, ’oh those ideas are untouchable . . . We have to sweep them under the rug because we don’t like their social implications’” (ChristopherHitchslap). The freedom to make Cates’ students think with their own heads disappeared when the state made teaching evolution illegal.

            The dark ages filled societies with fear by chasing people with different views and performing violent acts on them, and today those feeling still rise on occasion. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. People of the past held this believe with a passion. If someone didn’t think like the masses, they were ridiculed, physically abused and mentally abused. When I am extremely angry, I can only see red and not logic or reason. The world of the 1600’s saw anger in the same way. When Galileo positioned the sun at the center of our solar system and said it does not move from the center, the Catholic Church was angry enough to kick him out. The thin line between oppression of the dark ages still lingers today when any intellectual opens his mouth. I am happy that the world has a consensus not to hurt people for thinking differently.

Although the movie only hinted at the real story, many things did happen word for word and the message to have the freedom to think got across. The speech that made my heart race involved the theoretical word after evolution was outlawed in education. The defending lawyer Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind said, “Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding.” Science needs people who can think of anything and where there are no bonds. The knowledge for science is sought after in schools funded by the government. The migrated people that came to America did so to have freedom from religious prosecution. The first amendment brings clarity to the separation of church and state. When the two clash, freedom slides around like soda in a car with no cup holders. I worry that these fanatics could mold this world however they would like if they all obtained powerful positions. I am also optimistic toward a peaceful and understanding people where we all can get along. If humans don’t question everything, they will never advance due to complacently.



Works Cited

ChristopherHitchslap. “Scopes Monkey Trial FULL.” Project: Report. YouTube, 20 October. 2011. Web. 24 October. 2012

Crowther, Bosley. “Inherit the Wind.” Rev. of Inherit the Wind, Dir. Stanley Kramer. The New York Times, 13 October. 1960. Web. 24 October. 2012

Grandmother. Personal conversations.

Inherit the Wind. Dir. Stanley Kramer. Perf. Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Dick York, Harry Morgan. United Artists, 1960. DVD.


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