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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CA045:

The movie Inherit the Wind, a fictional account of the famous Scopes trial, is misleading propaganda. It relies heavily on anti-Christian ideas, and it depicts evolution as being censored, when in fact evolution is doing the censoring.


Nesselroade, Paul. 2003. Winds of change? Wedge Update (July 1),


  1. Inherit the Wind is fiction and was intended as such from the beginning. Like Arthur Miller's The Crucible, it was inspired by the events of the McCarthy era, particularly the suppression of ideas then prevalent (ClassicNote 1999). The authors tried to emphasize its fictionality by using fictional names for the characters. In the print version of the play, they write,
    Inherit the Wind is not history. The events which took place in Dayton, Tennessee, during the scorching July of 1925 are clearly the genesis of this play. It has, however, an exodus entirely of its own. [. . .]
    The collision of Bryan and Darrow at Dayton was dramatic, but it was not a drama. Moreover, the issues of their conflict have acquired new dimension and meaning in the thirty years since they clashed at the Rhea County Courthouse. So Inherit the Wind does not pretend to be journalism. It is theatre. It is not 1925. The stage directions set the time as "Not too long ago." It might have been yesterday. It could be tomorrow. (Lawrence and Lee 1955)
    Unfortunately, the drama has been treated as history by others, particulary by the movie promoters. This does a disservice to both the history and the drama. The history is recorded elsewhere (e.g., Larson 1997). The drama is about attitudes and ideas. The fact that the drama remains popular through the decades shows that the ideas are still relevant today.

  2. Dramatic license with history is common in many other dramas, such as Bertolt Brecht's Galileo and the movies 1776, Spartacus, and The Passion of the Christ, to name just a few.

  3. Creationism is a multi-million dollar business with numerous speaking, publishing, and other publicity outlets. Complaints that it is suffering from undue propaganda, much less that it is being systematically censored, are pure paranoia.


ClassicNote. 1999-2003. ClassicNote on Inherit the Wind.


  1. ClassicNote. 1999-2003. (see above)
  2. Larson, E. J. 1997. (see below)
  3. Lawrence, J. and R. E. Lee. 1955. (see below)

Further Reading:

Lawrence, J. and R. E. Lee. 1955. Inherit the Wind. New York: Bantam.

Larson, E. J. 1997. Summer of the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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created 2004-5-25