Alphabetical Movie – Inherit the Wind
Inherit the Wind is one of my favorite movies of all time. Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly and, in fact, all of the main actors are amazing. I could write an essay about nothing but how much I love the film.
But I’m me. So I’m not going to do that.
Instead, I’m going to talk about how this movie impacted my thoughts on science and religion.
Evolution has never been a debate for me. When I looked at the world around me, it always made logical sense. Why are there so many different kinds of pine trees? Because at some point a long time ago, there was only one. Then the seeds from that one kind of pine tree were spread out over the earth and because they were subjected to different climactic stresses, they changed just a little bit so they were better adapted to survive in that environment.
I know I’m simplifying.
If a god created all the pine trees, why would he make them different? There would be no need.
Whether or not there was a god, strict creationism made no sense. Could god have set all the pieces in motion? That was an idea I was willing to explore. Did god just set us all down fully formed? No. That made no sense at all.
It still doesn’t.
So to me, Inherit the Wind is a battle between the forces of reason and the forces of blind devotion to antiquated notions.
A few weeks ago, someone accused me of being intolerant of creationists. I embrace that distinction. I am intolerant of creationists. They believe something that is not supported by any scientific evidence and they actively deceive their children because they view a belief in evolution as evil.
The christian rejection of science and scientists is, I think, a large part of the reason that the anti vaccination movement has so much support. The same with Climate Change denialism. A huge portion of the American public – most of whom are right-wing Christians – don’t trust scientists because almost every biologist you find is going to tell them that evolution is true and creationism is bunk.
So threatened are they by this fact (because evolution is fact), that they must reject the findings of all scientists everywhere. Unless that scientist believes what they believe.
You can find “biologists” who believe that the Earth was created 6000 years ago. They do so by rejecting all the evidence that calls their belief into question. That makes them bad scientists.
So what does it say when so many people are willing to place their faith in bad scientists simply because those scientists tell them what they want to hear?
Inherit the Wind is fiction but I look at the way the Christians in the film view evolution as a threat. If god is real, evolution poses no threat to them at all. God is still real.
Yet there is a backlash against the idea that evolution is true that is so strong, they pass a law meant to keep people quiet about it.
Evolution is the source of so much fear to the Christian right and I guess I didn’t see it clearly until I watched the film.
Yes, I know it is fiction.
But look around our country right now. The Texas Republican Platform says the evolution is a controversial theory (it isn’t) that should not be taught. A Tennessee law passed this year allows creationism to be taught in schools as a viable alternative theory (it isn’t).
Watching Inherit the Wind, one might be inclined to think “well at least we aren’t that backwards now.”
I think the evidence shows that we very much are that backwards now.
Maybe we aren’t going to put a teacher in jail for teaching evolution any more. Instead, we are just going to force teachers to pass on bad science about creationism in the interest of “fairness.”
There is no “fairness” in lying to our children about science. There is no “fairness” in passing laws to protect your way of thinking because in the absence of research that supports it, you can just force people to teach it as the truth. There is no “fairness” in a religious majority pushing their agenda into the schools where their agenda has an impact on my child learning the truth about where our species came from.
So yeah, I’m intolerant of creationists and I will continue to be so.
And every time I watch Inherit the Wind, I come away just a little bit more intolerant than I was before.