The 1960 movie “Inherit the Wind” is a dramatization of the so-called “Scopes Monkey Trial” (The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes) of 1925 in which a teacher was tried for violation of a Tennessee law forbidding the teaching of evolution in the state’s public schools. The sensational trial pitted the famed trial lawyer Clarence Darrow (Henry Drummond in the movie) against the populist politician and former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan (movie character Matthew Harrison Brady), and ended up as a debate between the merits of the theory of evolution and the Bible. Scopes was convicted and fined $100 by the judge. On appeal, the conviction was overturned on a technicality pertaining to the imposed fine. The state declined to seek another trial, since Scopes had by then left his job as a Tennessee public school teacher.
During the trial, Darrow called Bryan to the stand for questioning as an expert on the Bible. A portion of the movie dramatization of that questioning is quoted below. It is relevant to our study of Jonah because it highlights the way in which calling into question God’s miraculous preservation of Jonah has been used as an entrée to call into question the entire Word of God.
Drummond: You believe that every word written in this book should be taken literally?Brady: Everything in the Bible should be accepted exactly as it is given there.Drummond: Now what about this part right here, where it talks about Jonah being swallowed by the whale? You figure that really happened?Brady: The Bible does not say “a whale.” It says, “a big fish.”Drummond: As a matter of fact, it says “a great fish.” But, I guess that one’s pretty much the same as the other. Now, what do you think about that business?Brady: I believe in a God who can make a whale, and who can make a man, and make both do what He pleases.Lady in the audience: God Bless you, Matthew Harrison Brady.Audience: Amen, amen….Drummond: I want those “amens” in the record. Now I recollect a story about Joshua — Joshua making the sun stand still. As an expert, do you tell me that that’s as right as the Jonah business? That’s a pretty neat trick.Brady: I do not question or scoff at the miracles of the Lord, as do ye of little faith.Drummond: Have you ever pondered what would actually happen to the earth if the sun stood still?Brady: You can testify to that if I get you on the stand.Drummond: If, as they say, the sun stood still, they must have had some kind of an idea that the sun moved around the earth. You think that’s the way of things? Or don’t you believe that the earth moves around the sun?Brady: I have faith in the Bible.Drummond: You don’t have much faith in the solar system.Brady: The sun stopped.Drummond: Good! Now, if what you say actually happened — if Joshua stopped the sun in the sky — the earth stopped spinning on its axis, continents toppled over one another, mountains flew into space, and the earth, shriveled to a cinder, crashed into the sun. Now, how come they missed that little tidbit of news?Brady: They missed it because it didn’t happen.Drummond: But it had to happen. It must’ve happened, according to natural law. Or don’t you believe in natural law, Mr. Brady? Would you ban Copernicus from the classroom along with Charles Darwin? Would you pass a law throwing out all scientific knowledge since Joshua? Revelation, period?!Brady: Natural law was born in the mind of the heavenly Father. He can change it, cancel it, use it as He pleases. It constantly amazes me that you Apostles of Science, for all your supposed wisdom, fail to grasp this simple fact.Drummond: Now listen to this. This is Genesis 4:16: “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife.” Now where the hell did she come from?Brady: Who?Drummond: Mrs. Cain. Cain’s wife. If, in the beginning, there were just Cain and Abel, and Adam and Eve, where did this extra woman come from? Did you ever stop to think about that?Brady: No, sir. I leave the agnostics to hunt for her.Drummond: Never bothered you?Brady: Never bothered me.Drummond: Never tried to find out?Brady: No.Drummond: You figure somebody else pulled another creation over in the next county somewhere?Brady: The Bible satisfies me. It is enough.Drummond: It frightens me to think of the state of learning in the world if everybody had your driving curiosity. Now, this book goes into a lot of “begats”: “And Arphax’ad begat Shelah, and Shelah begat Eber” and so on and so on and so on. Now, are these pretty important people?Brady: They are the generations of the holy men and women of the Bible.Drummond: How’d they go about all this begattin’?Brady: What do you mean?Drummond: Well, I mean, did they begat in much the same way as folks get themselves begat today?Brady: The process is about the same. I don’t think your scientists have improved it any! Hahahaha….Drummond: In other words, all of these folks were conceived and brought forth by the normal biological function known as sex. What do you think of sex, Colonel Brady?Brady: In what spirit is this question asked?Drummond: Well, I’m not asking you what you think of sex as a father or as a husband or even as a presidential candidate. You’re up here as an expert on the Bible. What is the biblical evaluation of sex?Brady: It is considered original sin.Drummond: And all these holy people got themselves begat through original sin? Well, all that sinnin’ make ’em any less holy?Davenport: Your Honor, where is this leading us? What has it got to do with the State versus Bertram Cates?Judge: Colonel Drummond, the Court must be satisfied that this line of questionin’ has some bearin’ on the case.Drummond: You’ve ruled out all of my witnesses. You must allow me to examine the one witness you’ve left to me in my own way.Brady: Your Honor, I am willing to sit here and endure Mr. Drummond’s sneering and his disrespect, for he is pleading the case for the prosecution by his contempt for all that is holy.Drummond: I object! I object! I object!!Brady: On what grounds?! Is it possible that something is holy to the celebrated agnostic?Drummond: Yes. The individual human mind. In a child’s power to master the multiplication table, there is more sanctity than in all your shouted “amens” and “holy holies” and “hosannas.” An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man’s knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters. But, now, are we to forgo all this progress because Mr. Brady now frightens us with a fable?! Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it. Sometimes I think there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says, “Alright, you can have a telephone, but you lose privacy and the charm of distance.”“Madam, you may vote, but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder-puff or your petticoat.” “Mr., you may conquer the air, but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.” Darwin took us forward to a hilltop from where we could look back and see the way from which we came, but for this insight, and for this knowledge, we must abandon our faith in the pleasant poetry of Genesis.Brady: We must not abandon faith! Faith is the most important thing!Drummond: Then why did God plant us with the power to think?! Mr. Brady, why do you deny the one faculty of man that raises him above the other creatures of the earth: the power of his brain to reason? What other merit have we? The elephant is larger; the horse is swifter and stronger; the butterfly is far more beautiful; the mosquito is more prolific. Even the simple sponge is more durable. Or does a sponge think?Brady: I don’t know. I am a man, not a sponge.Drummond: Well, do ya think a sponge thinks?Brady: If the Lord wishes a sponge to think, it thinks!Drummond: Do you think a man should have the same privilege as a sponge?Brady: Of course!Drummond: This man wishes to be accorded the same privilege as a sponge! He wishes to think!!Brady: But your client is wrong! He is deluded! He has lost his way!Drummond: It’s sad that we don’t all have your positive knowledge of what is right and wrong, Mr. Brady. How old do you think this rock is?Brady: I am more interested in the “Rock of Ages” than I am in the age of rocks.Drummond: Dr. Paige of Oberlin College tells me this rock is at least 10 million years old.Brady: Well, well, Colonel Drummond, you managed to speak here some of that scientific testimony, after all.Drummond: Look, Mr. Brady. These are the fossil remains of a marine prehistoric creature found in this very county, and which lived here millions of years ago when these very mountain ranges were submerged in water.Brady: I know. The Bible gives a fine account of the flood. But your Professor’s a little mixed up in his dates. That rock is not more than six thousand years old.Drummond: How do ya know?Brady: A fine biblical scholar, Bishop Usher, has determined for us the exact date and hour of the Creation. It occurred in the year 4004 B.C.Drummond: Well, that’s Bishop Usher’s opinion.Brady: It’s not an opinion. It’s a literal fact — which the good Bishop arrived at through careful computation of the ages of the prophets, as set down in the Old Testament. In fact, he determined that the Lord began the Creation on the 23rd of October, 4004 B.C. at, uh, 9:00am.Drummond: [Is] that Eastern Standard Time? Or Rocky Mountain Time? It wasn’t Daylight Saving Time, was it, because the Lord didn’t make the sun until the fourth day.Brady: That is correct.Drummond: That first day, what do you think, it was 24 hours long?Brady: The Bible says it was a day.Drummond: Well, there was no sun out. How do you know how long it was?Brady: The Bible says it was a day!Drummond: Well, was it a normal day, a literal day, 24 hour day?Brady: I don’t know.Drummond: What do you think?Brady: I do not think about things that I do not think about.Drummond: Do you ever think about things that you do think about?! Isn’t it possible that it could have been 25 hours? There’s no way to measure it; no way to tell. Could it have been 25 hours?!Brady: It’s possible.Drummond: Then you interpret that the first day as recorded in the Book of Genesis could’ve been a day of indeterminate length.Brady: I mean to state that it is not necessarily a 24 hour day.Drummond: It could’ve been 30 hours, could’ve been a week, could’ve been a month, could’ve been a year, could’ve been a hundred years, or it could’ve been 10 million years!!
Notice that Drummond began his assault upon Biblical Truth by calling into question the story of Jonah. Notice, also, that when Brady allowed the compromise that the first day of creation might not have been a literal 24-hour day, he opened the door to questioning the entire Word of God. This is not hyperbole. We either believe the Word of God is just that – the Word of God – without question or compromise, or we call into question the very Gospel itself. There’s no middle ground here. We either believe it or we don’t. The Word is either true or it isn’t.
And the stakes are high. The eternal destinies of all people hinge on belief or disbelief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed in the Bible. Consider once again the Refuge Church Statement of Faith with regard to the inerrancy of the Word of God…
We believe that all the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, and that they are the infallible rule of faith and practice.