NPR logo Inheriting The Wind: Film, Science And Religion


Inheriting The Wind: Film, Science And Religion


I wanted to thank everyone for their responses to the "Best Movies On Science and Religion" query.

There were lots of great suggestions. Some of the ones that stood out for me were:

The Matrix

Name of the Rose

Solaris (both versions?).

I also got a kick out of those of you who suggested The Life of Brian. If you include the space battle (the greatest non-sequitur of all time) it's definitely about science and religion.

One thing that strikes me though is how few films we had to choose from. If I had asked for "Best Zombie Movies Of All Time" we would likely have to cull from a list of hundreds of titles.

For a topic that really gets people's hair to stand on end you might expect more coverage of science and religion in film.

I want to leave everyone with the scene above from Inherit The Wind, which, to my mind, has to be counted as one of the greatest treatments of the subject. It never claims to be an authoritative account of the Scopes "Monkey" Trial (though some of the courtroom dialogue is based on real testimony) so its historical inaccuracies should not be held against it.

The film is a powerful and poetic defense of science in the face of religious intolerance. Though it can be overheated at times, the performances by Gene Kelly, Fredrick March and the incomparable Spencer Tracy make this film (based on the Jerome Lawrence play) a standard in fictional treatments of science and religion. It is noteworthy that while being a passionate declaration for science, the movie never loses sight of the significance of religious feeling in human life.

Tonight I'm going to watch it again.

I can't wait.