Bryan and Darrow at Dayton (1925)

ed. and compiled by Leslie H. Allen

ch. xv

Mr. Darrow Questions Mr. Bryan

[The Literal Interpretation of the Bible]
[Jonah Swallowed by a Whale]
[Joshua and the Sun standing still]
[Noah and the Flood]
[The Antiquity of Man
[Religions Other than Christianity, Peoples of the World]
[The Tower of Babel]
[The Age of the Earth]
[Bryan's Defence of the Bible]
[Eve as the First Woman, Cain's Wife]
[The Days of Creation]
[Eve and the Temptation of the Apple]
[Conclusion of Bryan's Testimony]

[133] IN the afternoon of the seventh day, court adjourned to the lawn. All morning the crowd, anticipating what everybody assumed would be the final arguments, had been increasing. The building was in danger of collapsing, and since the radio microphone and loud speaker had been taken away, Judge Raulston moved to a platform built against the courthouse wall so that all might hear. Here, under he maple trees, Mr. Bryan had preached a week before. Now the benches spread over the lawn were crowded again. It was another hot day, with coats the exceptions and galusses the rule. Mr. Darrow's galusses were blue, over a blue shirt.

Unexpectedly, Mr. Darrow called Mr. Bryan as a witness for the defense. Against the repeated objections of Mr. Stewart, who was about ready to exercise his right to nolle prosse the case, Mr. Darrow questioned Mr. Bryan for two hours.

[The Literal Interpretation of the Bible]

MR. DARROW--You have given considerable study to the Bible, haven't you, Mr. Bryan ?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, sir, I have tried to.

MR. DARROW--Well, we all know you have; we are not going to dispute that at all. But you have written and published articles almost weekly, and sometimes have made interpretations of various things??

MR. BRYAN--I would not say interpretations, Mr. Darrow, but comments on the lesson.

MR. DARROW--If you commented to any extent, those comments have been interpretations ?

MR. BRYAN--I presume that any discussion might be to some extent interpretations, but they have not been primarily intended as interpretations.

MR. DARROW--But you have studied that question, of course?

MR. BRYAN--Of what? [134]

MR. DARROW--Of interpretation of the Bible?

MR. BRYAN--On this particular question ?

MR. DARROW--Yes, sir.

MR. BRYAN--Yes, sir.

MR. DARROW--Then you have made a general study of it?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, I have. I have studied the Bible for about fifty years, or some time more than that. I have studied it more as I have become older than when I was but a boy.

MR. DARROW--Do you claim that everything in the Bible should be literally interpreted ?

MR. BRYAN I believe everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there. Some of the Bible is given illustratively. For instance: "Ye are the salt of the earth.''[1] I would not insist that man was actually salt, or that he had flesh of salt, but it is used in the sense of salt as saving God's people.

[Jonah Swallowed by a Whale]

MR. DARROW--But when you read that Jonah swallowed the whale--or that the whale swallowed Jonah, excuse me, please--how do you literally interpret that ?

MR. BRYAN--When I read that a big fish swallowed Jonah-- it does not say whale.[2]

MR. DARROW--Doesn't it ? Are you sure ?

MR. BRYAN--That is my recollection of it, a big fish; and I believe it; and I believe in a God who can make a whale and can make a man, and make both do what He pleases.

MR. DARROW--Mr. Bryan, doesn't the New Testament say whale ?[3]

MR. BRYAN--I am not sure. My impression is that it says fish; but it does not make so much difference; I merely called your attention that to where it says fish, it does not say whale.

MR. DARROW--But in the New Testament it says whale, doesn't it ?

MR. BRYAN--That may be true; I remember in my own mind what I read about it.

MR. DARROW--Now, you say, the big fish swallowed Jonah, and he remained--how long?--three days, and then he spewed him up on the land. You believe that the big fish was made to swallow Jonah ? [135]

MR. BRYAN--I am not prepared to say that. The Bible merely says it was done.

MR. DARROW--You don't know whether it was the ordinary mine-run of fish or made for that purpose?

MR. BRYAN--You may guess; you evolutionists guess.

MR. DARROW--But when we do guess, we have the sense to guess right.

MR. BRYAN--But you do not do it often.

MR. DARROW--You are not prepared to say whether that fish was made specially to swallow a man or not ?

MR. BRYAN--The Bible doesn't say so. I am not prepared

MR DARROW--But you believe He made them--that He made such a fish and that it was big enough to swallow Jonah?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, sir. Let me add: One miracle is just as easy to believe as another.

MR. DARROW--It is for me.

MR. BRYAN--It is for me.

MR. DARROW--Just as hard?

MR. BRYAN--It is hard to believe for you, but easy for me. A miracle is a thing performed beyond what man can perform. When you get beyond what man can do you get within the realms of miracles; and it is just as easy to believe the miracle of Jonah as any other miracle in the Bible.

MR. DARROW--Perfectly easy to believe that Jonah swallowed the whale ?

MR BRYAN--If the Bible said so. The Bible doesn't make as extreme statements as evolutionists do.

[Joshua makes the the Sun Stand Still]

MR. DARROW--The Bible says Joshua commanded the sun to stand still for the purpose of lengthening the day, doesn't it, and you believe it?[4]

MR. BRYAN--I do.

MR. DARROW--Do you believe at that time the entire sun went around the earth?

MR. BRYAN--No, I believe that the earth goes around the sun.

MR. DARROW--Do you believe that the men who wrote it thought that the day could be lengthened or that the sun could be stopped? [136]

MR. BRYAN--I don't know what they thought.

MR. DARROW--You don't know ?

MR. BRYAN--I think they wrote the fact without expressing their own thoughts.

MR. DARROW--Have you an opinion as to whether or not the men who wrote that thought

MR. STEWART--I want to object, your Honor. It has gone beyond the pale of any issue that could possibly be injected into this lawsuit, except by imagination. I do not think the defendant has a right to conduct the examination any further, and I ask your Honor to exclude it.

JUDGE RAULSTON--I will hear Mr. Bryan.

MR. BRYAN--It seems to me it would be too exacting to confine the defense to the facts. If they are not allowed to get away from the facts, what have they to deal with?

JUDGE RAULSTON--Mr. Bryan is willing to be examined. Go ahead.

MR. DARROW--Have you an opinion as to whether--whoever wrote the book, I believe it was Joshua--the Book of Joshua--thought the sun went around the earth or not ?

MR. BRYAN--I believe that he was inspired.

MR. DARROW--Can you answer my question ?

MR. BRYAN--When you let me finish the statement.

MR. DARROW--It is a simple question, but finish it.

MR. BRYAN--You cannot measure the length of my answer by the length of your question. [Laughter]

MR. DARROW--No, except that the answer will be longer. [Laughter]

MR. BRYAN--I believe that the Bible is inspired, and an inspired author, whether one who wrote as he was directed to write understood the things he was writing about, I don't know.

MR. DARROW--Do you think whoever inspired it believed that the sun went around the earth?

MR. BRYAN--I believe it was inspired by the Almighty, and He may have used language that could be understood at that time.

MR. DARROW--So . . . it might have been subject to construction, might it not ?

MR. BRYAN--It might have been used in language that could be understood then. [137]

MR. DARROW--That means it is subject to construction?

MR. BRYAN--That is your construction. I am answering your questions.

MR. DARROW--Is that correct?

MR. BRYAN--That is my answer to it.

MR. DARROW--Can you answer ?

MR. BRYAN--I might say Isaiah spoke of God sitting upon the circle of the earth.[5]

MR. DARROW--I am not talking about Isaiah.

JUDGE RAULSTON--Let him illustrate, if he wants to, Mr. Darrow. It is your opinion that passage was subject to construction ?

MR. BRYAN--Well, I think anybody can put his own construction upon it, but I do not mean necessarily that it is a correct construction. I have answered the question.

MR. DARROW--Don't you believe that in order to lengthen the day it would have been construed that the earth stood still ?

MR. BRYAN--I would not attempt to say what would have been necessary, but I know this, that I can take a glass of water that would fall to the ground without the strength of my hand, and to the extent of the glass of water I can overcome the law of gravitation and lift it up; whereas, without my hand, it would fall to the ground. If my puny hand can overcome the law of gravitation, the most universally understood, to that extent, I would not set power to the hand of Almighty God that made the universe.

MR. DARROW--I read that years ago. Can you answer my question directly ? If the day was lengthened by stopping, either the earth or the sun, it must have been the earth?

MR. BRYAN--Well, I should say so: yes, but it was language that was understood at that time, and we now know that the sun stood still, as it was, with the earth.

MR DARROW--We know also the sun does stand still?

MR BRYAN--Well, it is relatively so, as Mr. Einstein would say.

MR. DARROW--I ask you, if it does stand still?

MR. BRYAN--You know as well as I know.

MR. DARROW--Better. You have no doubt about it? [138]

MR. BRYAN--No, no.

MR. DARROW--And the earth moves around it ?

MR. BRYAN--Yes. But I think there is nothing improper if you will protect the Lord against your criticism.

MR. DARROW--I suppose he needs it?

MR. BRYAN--He was using language at that time that the people understood.

MR. DARROW--And that you call "interpretative"?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir, I would not call it interpretation.

MR. DARROW--I say, you would call it interpretation at this time, to say it meant something else ?

MR. BRYAN--You may use your own language to describe what I have to say, and I will use mine in answering.

MR. DARROW--Now, Mr. Bryan, have you ever pondered what would have happened to the earth if it had stood still?


MR. DARROW--You have not ?

MR. BRYAN--No. The God I believe in could have taken care of that, Darrow.

MR. DARROW--I see. Have you ever pondered what would naturally happen to the earth if it stood still suddenly?


MR. DARROW--Don't you know it would have been converted into a molten mass of matter ?

MR. BRYAN--You testify to that when you get on the stand. I will give you a chance.

MR. DARROW--Don't you believe it ?

MR. BRYAN--I would want to hear expert testimony on that.

MR. DARROW--You have never investigated that subject?

MR. BRYAN--I don't think I ever had the question asked.

MR. DARROW--Or ever thought of it?

MR. BRYAN--I have been too busy on things that I thought were of more importance than that.

[Noah and the Flood]

MR. DARROW--You believe the story of the flood[6] to be a literal interpretation? When was that flood?

MR. BRYAN--I wouldn't attempt to fix the date. The date is fixed, as suggested this morning.

MR. DARROW--About 4004 B. C. ? [139]

MR. BRYAN--That has been the estimate. I would not say it is accurate.

MR. DARROW--That estimate is printed in the Bible.

MR. BRYAN--Everybody knows that--at least I think most of the people know--that was the estimate given.

MR. DARROW--But what do you think that the Bible itself say;;s ? Don't you know how it is arrived at ?

MR. BRYAN--I never made a calculation.

MR. DARROW--A calculation from what?

MR. BRYAN--I could not say.

MR. DARROW--From the generations of man?

MR. BRYAN--I would not want to say that.

Mr. Stewart again objected to the examination of Mr. Bryan.

MR. DARROW--He is a hostile witness.

JUDGE RAULSTON--I am going to let Mr. Bryan control.

MR. BRYAN--I want him to have all the latitude that he wants, for I am going to have some latitude when he gets through.

MR. DARROW--You can have latitude and longitude. [Laughter]


MR. STEWART--The witness is entitled to be examined as to the legal evidence of it. We were supposed to go into the origin of this case, and we have nearly lost the day, your Honor.

MR. MCKENZIE--I object to it.

MR. STEWART--Your Honor, he is perfectly able to take care of this, but we are attaining no evidence. This is not competent evidence.

MR. BRYAN--These gentlemen have not had much chance. They did not come here to try this case. They came here to try revealed religion. I am here to defend it, and they can ask me any questions they please.

JUDGE RAULSTON--All right. [Applause]

MR. DARROW--Great applause from the bleachers!

MR. BRYAN--From those whom you call "yokels."

MR. DARROW--I have never called them yokels.

MR. BRYAN--That is, the ignorance of Tennessee, the bigotry.

MR. DARROW--You mean who are applauding?

MR. BRYAN--Those are the people whom you insult. [140]

MR. DARROW--You insult every man of science and learning In the world because he does not believe in your fool religion.

JUDGE RAULSTON--I will not stand for that.

MR. DARROW--For what he is doing?

JUDGE RAULSTON--I am talking to both of you.

MR. STEWART--This has gone beyond the pale of a lawsuit, your Honor. I have a public duty to perform, under my oath, and I ask the court to stop it. Mr. Darrow is making an effort to insult the gentleman on the witness stand, and I ask that this be stopped.

JUDGE RAULSTON--To stop it now would not be just to Mr. Bryan.

MR. DARROW--How long ago was the flood, Mr. Bryan?

MR. BRYAN--Let me see Usher's calculation about it.

MR. DARROW--Surely. [Handing a Bible to the witness]

MR. BRYAN--I think this does not give it.

MR. DARROW--It gives an account of Noah. Where is the one m evidence ? I am quite certain it is there.

MR. BRYAN--Oh, I would put the estimate where it is, because I have no reason to vary it. But I would have to look at it to give you the exact date.

MR. DARROW--I would, too. Do you remember what book the account is in?

MR. BRYAN--Genesis. It is given here as 2348 years B. C.

MR. DARROW--Well, 2348 years B. C.

MR. DARROW--You believe that all the living things that were not contained in the ark were destroyed?

MR. BRYAN--I think the fish may have lived.

MR. DARROW--Outside of the fish?

MR. BRYAN--I cannot say.

MR. DARROW--You cannot say ?

MR. BRYAN--No. I accept that just as it is. I have no proof to the contrary.

MR. DARROW--I am asking you whether you believe it.

MR. BRYAN--I do. I accept that as the Bible gives it, and I have never found any reason for denying, disputing or rejecting it.

MR. DARROW--Let me make it definite--2,348 years ?

MR. BRYAN--I didn't say that. That is the time given [indicating a Bible], but I don't pretend to say that is exact. [141]

MR. DARROW--You never figured it out, those generations, yourself ?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir; not myself.

MR. DARROW--But the Bible you have offered in evidence says 2340 something, so that 4,200 years ago there was not a living thing on the earth, excepting the people on the Ark and the animals on the ark, and the fishes?

MR. BRYAN--There had been living things before that?

MR. DARROW--I mean at that time?

MR. BRYAN--After that.

MR. DARROW--Don't you know there are any number of civilizations that are traced back to more than five thousand years ?

MR. BRYAN--I know we have people who trace things back according to the number of ciphers they have. But I am not satisfied they are accurate.

MR. DARROW--You are not satisfied there is any civilization that can be traced back five thousand years ?

MR. BRYAN--I would not want to say there is, because I have no evidence of it that is satisfactory.

MR DARROW--Would you say there is not?

MR BRYAN--Well, so far as I know, but when 306,000,000 years is their opinion, as to how long ago life came here, I want them to be nearer, to come nearer together, before they demand of me to give up my belief in the Bible.

MR. DARROW--Do you say that you do not believe that there were any civilizations on this earth that reach back beyond 5,000 years?

MR. BRYAN--I am not satisfied by any evidence that I have seen

MR. DARROW--I didn't ask what you are satisfied with. I asked if you believed it.

MR. BRYAN--Will you let me answer it?

JUDGE RAULSTON--Go right on.

MR. BRYAN--I am satisfied by no evidence that I have found that would justify me in accepting the opinions of these men against what I believe to be the inspired Word of God.

MR. DARROW--And you believe every nation, every organization of men, every animal in the world, outside of the fishes

MR. BRYAN--The fish, I want you to understand, is merely a matter of humor.

MR. DARROW--I believe the Bible says so. Take the fishes in ?

MR. BRYAN--Let us get together and look over this.

MR. DARROW--Probably we would better. We will after we get through. You believe that all the various human races on the earth have come into being in the last four thousand years or four thousand two hundred years, whatever it is?

MR. BRYAN--No. It would be more than that.

MR. DARROW--1237?

MR. BRYAN--Some time after creation, before the flood.

MR. DARROW--1925 added to it?

MR. BRYAN--The flood is 2300 and something and creation, according to the estimate there, is further back than that.

MR. DARROW--Then you don't understand me. If we don't get together on it, look at the book. This is the year of grace 1925, isn't it? Let us put down 1925. Have you got a pencil? [One of the defense attorneys hands Mr. Darrow a pencil.]

MR. BRYAN--Add to that 4,004?


MR. BRYAN--That is the date [referring to the Bible] given here on the first page, according to Bishop Usher, which I say I accept only because I have no reason to doubt it.

MR. DARROW--One thousand nine hundred and twenty- five plus 4,004 is 5,929 years. Now, then, what do you subtract from that?

MR. BRYAN--That is the beginning.

MR. DARROW--I was talking about the flood.

MR. BRYAN- Two thousand three hundred and forty- eight on that, we said.

MR. DARROW--Less than that?

MR. BRYAN--No; subtract that from 4,000. It would be about 1,700 years.

MR. DARROW--That is the same thing?

MR. BRYAN--No; subtracted, it is twenty-three hundred and something before the beginning of the Christian era, about 1,700 years after the creation.

MR. DARROW--If I add 2,300 years, that is the beginning of the Christian era?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, sir. [143]

MR. DARROW--If I add 1925 to that I will get it, won't I?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, sir.

MR. DARROW--That makes 4,262 years ?

MR. BRYAN--According to the Bible there was a civilization before that, destroyed by the flood.

MR. DARROW--Let me make this definite. You believe that every civilization on the earth and every living thing, except possibly the fishes, that came out of the ark, were wiped out by the flood ?

MR. BRYAN--At that time.

MR. DARROW--At that time; and then, whatever human beings, including all the tribes that inhabited the world, and have inhabited the world, and who run their pedigree straight back, and all the animals have come on to the earth since the flood ?


MR. DARROW--Within 4,200 years ? Do you know a scientific man on the earth that believes any such thing?

MR. BRYAN--I cannot say, but I know some scientific men who dispute entirely the antiquity of man as testified to by other scientific men.

[The Antiquity of Man]

MR. DARROW--Oh, that does not answer the question. Do you know of a single scientific man on the face of the earth that believes any such thing as you stated, about the antiquity of man?

MR. BRYAN--I don't think I have even asked one the direct question.

MR. DARROW--Quite important, isn't it?

MR. BRYAN--Well, I don't know as it is.

MR. DARROW--It might not be ?

MR. BRYAN--If I had nothing else to do except speculate on what our remote ancestors were and what our remote descendants have been, but I have been more interested in Christians going on right now, to make it much more important than speculations on either the past or the future.

MR. DARROW--You do know that there are thousands of people who profess to be Christians who believe the earth is much more ancient and that the human race is much more ancient ?

MR. BRYAN--I think there may be. [144]

MR. DARROW--And you never have investigated to find out how long man has been on the earth?

MR. BRYAN--I have never found it necessary. I do not expect to find out all those things. I do not expect to find out about races.

MR. DARROW--I didn't ask you that. Now, I ask you, if you know, if it was interesting enough, or important enough for you, to try to find out, how old these ancient civilizations are ?

MR. BRYAN--No. I have not made a study of it.

MR. DARROW--Don't you know that the ancient civilizations of China are six or seven thousand years old, at the very least?

MR. BRYAN--No, but they would not run back beyond the creation, according to the Bible, six thousand years.

MR. DARROW--You don't know how old they are, is that right ?

MR. BRYAN--I don't know how old they are, but possibly you do. [Laughter]

MR. DARROW--Have you any idea how old the Egyptian civilization is ?


MR. DARROW--Do you know of any record in the world, outside of the story of the Bible, which conforms to any statement that it is 4,300 years ago or thereabouts, that all life was wiped off the face of the earth?

MR. BRYAN--I think they have found records.

MR. DARROW--Do you know of any ?

MR. BRYAN--Records reciting the flood, but I am not an authority on the subject.

MR. DARROW--Mr. Bryan, don't you know that there are many old religions that describe the flood?

MR. BRYAN--No, I don't know. The Christian religion has satisfied me and I have never felt it necessary to look up some competing religion.

[Religions Other than Christianity, Peoples of the World]

Questioned by Mr. Darrow, Mr. Bryan said "competitive religion" meant "religious unbelievers" in the Christian religion. The religions of Confucius and Buddha he did not regard as competitive, because he thought them inferior, and he told Mr. Darrow what he thought of both: Buddhism was a religion of agnosticism, because he had seen in Rangoon that the [145] Buddhists were to send a delegation to an agnostics' congress

MR. DARROW--Do you know how old the Confucian religion is?

MR. BRYAN--I can't give you the exact date of it.

MR. DARROW--Do you know how old the religion of Zoroaster is ?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir.

MR. DARROW--Do you know they are both more ancient than the Christian religion?

MR. BRYAN--I am not willing to take the opinion of people who are trying to find excuses for rejecting the Christian religion

MR. DARROW--Are you familiar with James Clark's book on the ten great religions ?


MR. DARROW--You don't know how old they are, all these other religions ?

MR. BRYAN--I wouldn't attempt to speak correctly, but I think it is much more important to know the difference between them than to know the age.

MR. DARROW--Not for the purpose of this inquiry, Mr. Bryan. Do you know about how many people there were on this earth at the beginning of the Christian era?

MR. BRYAN--No. I don't think I ever saw a census on that subject.

MR. DARROW--Do you know about how many people there were on this earth 3,000 years ago?


MR. DARROW--Did you ever try to find out?

MR. BRYAN--When you display my ignorance, could you not give me the facts so I would not be ignorant any longer?

MR. DARROW--Can you tell me how many people there were when Christ was born? You know, some of us might get the facts and still be ignorant.

MR. BRYAN--Will you please give me that? You ought not to ask me a question that you don't know the answer to.

MR. DARROW--I can make an estimate.

MR. BRYAN--What is your estimate ?

MR. DARROW--Wait until you get to me. Do you know [146] anything about how many people there were in Egypt 3,500 years ago, or how many people there were in China 5,000 years ago ?


MR. DARROW--Have you ever tried to find out ?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir; you are the first man I ever heard of who was interested in it. [Laughter]

MR. DARROW--Mr. Bryan, am I the first man you ever heard of who has been interested in the age of human societies and primitive man?

MR. BRYAN--You are the first man I ever heard speak of the number of people at these different periods.

MR. DARROW--Where have you lived all your life?

MR. BRYAN--Not near you. [Laughter and applause]

MR. DARROW--Nor near anybody of learning?

MR. BRYAN--Oh, don't assume you know it all.

MR. DARROW--Do you know there are thousands of books in your libraries on all those subjects I have been asking you about ?

MR. BRYAN--I couldn't say, but I will take your word for it.

MR. DARROW--Did you ever read a book on primitive man? Like Tyler's Primitive Culture or Boaz or any of the great authorities ?

MR. BRYAN--I don't think I ever read the ones you have mentioned.

MR. DARROW--Have you read any?

MR. BRYAN--Well, I have read a little from time to time. But I didn't pursue it, because I didn't know I was to be called as a witness.

MR. DARROW--You have never in all your life made any attempt to find out about the other peoples of the earth--how old their civilizations are, how long they have existed on the earth, have you?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir, I have been so well satisfied with the Christian religion that I have spent no time trying to find argument against it.

MR. DARROW--Were you afraid you might find some ?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir; I am not afraid that you will show me any.

MR. DARROW--You remember that man who said--I am not [147] quoting literally--that one could not be content though he rose from the dead. You suppose you could be content?

MR. BRYAN--Well, will you give me the rest of it, Mr. Darrow ?


MR. BRYAN--Why not ?

MR. DARROW--I am not interested.

MR. BRYAN--Why scrap the Bible? "They have Moses and the Prophets.''[7]

MR DARROW--Who has ?

MR BRYAN--That is the rest of the quotation you didn't finish.

MR. DARROW--And you think if they have Moses and the Prophets, they don't need to find out anything else?

MR. BRYAN--That was the answer that was made there.

MR. DARROW--You don't care how old the earth is, how old man is, and how long the animals have been here?

MR. BRYAN--I am not so much interested in that.

MR. DARROW--You have never made any investigation to find out?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir, I never have.

[The Tower of Babel]

MR. DARROW--You have heard of the Tower of Babel, haven't you ?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, sir.

MR. DARROW--That tower[8] was built under the ambition that they could build a tower up to Heaven, wasn't it? And God saw what they were at and to prevent their getting into Heaven, He confused their tongues?

MR. BRYAN--Something like that. I wouldn't say to prevent their getting into Heaven. I don't think it is necessary to believe that God was afraid they would get to Heaven.

MR DARROW--I mean that way?

MR BRYAN--I think it was a rebuke to them.

MR. DARROW--A rebuke to them trying to go that way ?

MR. BRYAN--To build that tower for that purpose.

MR. DARROW--Take that short cut ?

MR. BRYAN--That is your language, not mine.

MR. DARROW--Now, when was that? [148]

Ma. BRYAN--Give us the Bible.

MR. DARROW--Yes, we will have strict authority on it-- scientific authority?

MR. BRYAN--That was about 100 years before the flood, Mr. Darrow, according to this chronology. It was 2247--the date on one page is 2218 and on the other 2247, and it is described in here.

MR. DARROW--That is the year 2247 ?

MR. BRYAN--2218 B. C. is at the top of one page, and 2247 at the other, and there is nothing in here to indicate the change.

MR. DARROW--Well, make it 2218 then?

MR. BRYAN--All right, about.

MR. DARROW--Then you add 1500 to that.

MR. BRYAN--No, 1925.

MR. DARROW--Add 1925 to that--that would be 4,143 years ago. Up to 4,143 years ago, every human being on earth spoke the same language ?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, sir, I think that is the inference that could be drawn from that.

MR. DARROW--All the different languages of the earth, dating from the Tower of Babel,--is that right? Do you know how many languages are spoken on the face of the earth?

MR. BRYAN--No. I know the Bible has been translated into 500, and no other book has been translated into anything like that many.

MR. DARROW--That is interesting, if true. Do you know all the languages there are?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir, I can't tell you. There may be many dialects besides that and some languages, but those are all the principal languages.

MR. DARROW--There are a great many that are not principal languages ?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, sir.

MR. DARROW--You haven't any idea how many there are?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir.

MR. DARROW--And you say that all those languages of all the sons of men have come on the earth not over 4,150 years ago ?

MR. BRYAN--I have seen no evidence that would lead me to put it any farther back than that. [149]

MR. DARROW--That is your belief anyway? That was due to the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel? Did you ever study philology at all ?

MR. BRYAN--No, I have never made a study of it not in the sense in which you speak of it.

MR. DARROW--You have used language all your life ?

MR. BRYAN--Well, hardly all my life--ever since I was about a year old.

MR. DARROW--And good language, too; and you never took any pains to find anything about the origin of languages?

MR. BRYAN--I never studied it as a science.

MR. DARROW--Have you ever by any chance read Max Mueller ?


MR. DARROW--The great German philologist?


MR. DARROW--Or any book on that subject?

MR. BRYAN--I don't remember to have read a book on that subject, especially, but I have read extracts, of course, and articles on philology.

[The Age of the Earth]

MR. DARROW--Mr. Bryan, could you tell me how old the earth is ?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir, I couldn't.

MR. DARROW--Could you come anywhere near it?

MR. BRYAN--I wouldn't attempt to. I could possibly come as near as the scientists do, but I had rather be more accurate before I give a guess.

MR. DARROW--You don't think much of scientists, do you?

MR. BRYAN--Yes, I do, sir.

Mr. Bryan mentioned the name of George M. Price, formerly professor of geology in a college in Nebraska and now in a California college. Mr. Darrow characterized Mr. Price as not a geologist at all.

MR. DARROW--Do you know how old his book is ?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir; it is a recent book.

MR. DARROW--Do you know anything about his training?

MR. BRYAN--No, I can't say on that.

MR. DARROW--Do you know of any geologist on the face of the earth who ever recognized him?

MR. BRYAN--I couldn't say. [150]

MR. DARROW--But you think he is all right ? How old does he say the earth is ?

MR. BRYAN--I am not sure that I would insist on some particular geologist that you picked out recognizing him before I could consider him worthy of belief.

MR. DARROW--You would consider him worthy if he agreed with your views.

MR. BRYAN--Well, I think his argument is very good.

MR. DARROW--How old does Mr. Price say the earth is?

MR. BRYAN--I haven't examined the book in order to answer questions on it.

MR. DARROW--Then you don't know anything about how old he says it is?

MR. BRYAN--He speaks of the layers that are supposed to measure age and points out that they are not uniform and not always the same, and that attempts to measure age by those layers where they are not in the order in which they are usually found makes it difficult to fix the exact age.

MR. DARROW--Does he say anything whatever about the age of the earth?

MR. BRYAN--I wouldn't be able to testify.

MR. DARROW--When was the last Glacial Age?

MR. BRYAN--I wouldn't attempt to tell you that

MR. DARROW--Have you any idea?

MR. BRYAN--I wouldn't want to fix it without looking at some of the figures.

MR. DARROW--Do you know whether it was more than 6,000 years ago ?

MR. BRYAN--I think it was more than 6,000 years.

MR. DARROW--Have you any idea how old the earth is ?


MR. DARROW--The Book you have introduced in evidence tells you, doesn't it? [Referring to the Bible]

MR. BRYAN--I don't think it does, Mr. Darrow

MR. DARROW--Let's see whether it does. Is this the one?

MR. BRYAN--That is the one, I think.

MR. DARROW--It says B. C. 4004.

MR. BRYAN--That is Bishop Usher's calculation

MR. DARROW--Do you think the earth was made in six days ? [151]

MR. BRYAN--Not six days of twenty-four hours.

MR. DARROW--Doesn't it say so ?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir.

[Bryan's Defence of the Bible]

MR. STEWART--What is the purpose of this examination ?

MR. BRYAN--The purpose is to cast ridicule on everybody who believes in the Bible, and I am perfectly willing that the world shall know that these gentlemen have no other purpose l than ridiculing every person who believes in the Bible.

MR. DARROW--We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States, and you know it, and that is all.

MR. BRYAN--I am glad to bring out that statement. I want the world to know that this evidence is not for the view. Mr. Darrow and his associates have filed affidavits here stating the purpose which, as I understand it, is to show that the Bible story is not true.

MR. MALONE--Mr. Bryan seems anxious to get some evidence in the record that would tend to show that those affidavits are not true.

MR. BRYAN--I am not trying to get anything into the record. I am simply trying to protect the Word of God against the greatest atheist or agnostic in the United States. [Prolonged applause] I want the papers to know I am not afraid to get on the stand in front of him and let him do his worst. I want the world to know that agnosticism is trying to force agnosticism on our colleges and on our schools, and the people of Tennessee will not permit it to be done. [Prolonged applause]

MR. DARROW--I wish I could get a picture of these claquers.

MR. STEWART--I am not afraid of Mr. Bryan being perfectly able to take care of himself, but this examination cannot be a legal examination, and it cannot be worth a thing in the world, and, your Honor, I respectfully except to it and call on your Honor in the name of all that is legal to stop this examination, and stop it here.

MR. HAYS--I rather sympathize with the General, but Mr. Bryan is produced as a witness because he is a student of the Bible, and he presumably understands what the Bible means. He is one of the foremost students in the United States, and we hope to show by Mr. Bryan, who is a student of the Bible, what the Bible really means in connection with evolution. Mr. [152] Bryan has already stated that the world is not merely 6,000 years old, and that is very helpful to us.

After considerable argument as to the admissibility of the examination, the Court permitted it to continue:

[Eve as the First Woman, Cain's Wife]

MR. DARROW--Mr. Bryan, do you believe that the first woman was Eve?


MR. DARROW--Do you believe she was literally made out of Adam's rib ?

MR. BRYAN--I do.

MR. DARROW--Did you ever discover where Cain got his wife ?[9]

MR. BRYAN--No, sir; I leave the agnostics to hunt for her.

MR. DARROW--You have never found out?

MR. BRYAN--I have never tried to find.

MR. DARROW--You have never tried to find?


MR. DARROW--The Bible says he got one, doesn't it? Were there other people on the earth at that time ?

MR. BRYAN--I cannot say.

MR. DARROW--You cannot say? Did that never enter into your consideration?

MR. BRYAN--Never bothered me.

MR. DARROW--There were no others recorded, but Cain got a wife. That is what the Bible says. Where she came from, you don't know. All right. Does the statement, 'The morning and the evening were the first day' and 'The morning and the evening were the second day' mean anything to you?[10]

[The Days of Creation]

MR. BRYAN--I do not think it means necessarily a twenty-four- hour day.

MR. DARROW--You do not ?


MR. DARROW--What do you consider it to be?

MR. BRYAN--I have not attempted to explain it. If you will take the second chapter--let me have the book. [Examining Bible] The fourth verse of the second chapter (Genesis) says: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the [153] earth, when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." The word "day" there in the very next chapter is used to describe a period. I do not see that there is necessity for construing the words, "the evening and the morning" as meaning necessarily a twenty-four hour day: "in the day when the Lord made the Heaven and the earth."

MR. DARROW--Then when the Bible said, for instance, "And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day,"--that does not necessarily mean twenty-four hours?

MR. BRYAN--I do not think it necessarily does.

MR. DARROW--Do you think it does or does not ?

MR. BRYAN--I know a great many think so.

MR. DARROW--What do you think ?

MR. BRYAN--I do not think it does.

MR. DARROW--You think these were not literal days ?

MR. BRYAN--I do not think they were twenty-four-hour days.

MR. DARROW--What do you think about it?

MR. BRYAN--That is my opinion--I do not know that my opinion is better on that subject than those who think it does.

MR. DARROW--Do you not think that ?

MR. BRYAN--No. But I think it would be just as easy for the kind of God we believe in to make the earth in six days as in six years or in six million years or in six hundred million years. I do not think it important whether we believe one or the other.

MR. DARROW--Do you think those were literal days?

MR. BRYAN--My impression is they were periods, but I would not attempt to argue as against anybody who wanted to believe in literal days.

MR. DARROW--Have you any idea of the length of the periods ?

MR. BRYAN--No, I don't.

MR. DARROW--Do you think the sun was made on the fourth day ?


MR. DARROW--And they had evening and morning without the sun? [154]

MR. BRYAN--I am simply saying it is a period.

MR. DARROW--They had evening and morning for four periods without the sun, do you think?

MR. BRYAN--I believe in creation, as there told, and if I am not able to explain it, I will accept it.

MR. DARROW--Then you can explain it to suit yourself. And they had the evening and the morning before that time for three days or three periods. All right, that settles it. Now, if you call those periods, they may have been a very long time?

MR. BRYAN--They might have been.

MR. DARROW--The creation might have been going on for a very long time?

MR. BRYAN--It might have continued for millions of years.

[Eve and the Temptation of the Apple]

MR. DARROW--Yes, all right. Do you believe the story of the temptation of Eve by the serpent?

MR. BRYAN--I do.

MR. DARROW--Do you believe that after Eve ate the apple, or gave it to Adam--whichever way it was--God cursed Eve, and at that time decreed that all womankind thenceforth and forever should suffer the pains of childbirth in the reproduction of the earth?[11]

MR. BRYAN--I believe what it says, and I believe the fact as fully.

MR. DARROW--That is what it says, doesn't it ?


MR. DARROW--And for that reason, every woman born of woman, who has to carry on the race,--the reason they have childbirth pains is because Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden?

MR. BRYAN--I will believe just what the Bible says. I ask to put that in the language of the Bible, for I prefer that to your language. Read the Bible, and I will answer.

MR. DARROW--All right, I will do that: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman."[12] That is referring to the serpent?

MR. BRYAN--The serpent.

MR. DARROW (reading)--"And between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. [155] Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." That is right, is it?

MR. BRYAN--I accept it as it is.

MR. DARROW--Do you believe that was because Eve tempted Adam to eat the fruit?

MR. BRYAN--I believe it was just what the Bible said.

MR. DARROW--And you believe that is the reason that God made the serpent to go on his belly after he tempted Eve?

MR. BRYAN--I believe the Bible as it is, and I do not permit you to put your language in the place of the language of the Almighty. You read that Bible and ask me questions, and I will answer them. I will not answer your questions in your language.

MR. DARROW--I will read it to you from the Bible: "And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field, upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." Do you think that is why the serpent is compelled to crawl upon its belly?[13]

AIR. BRYAN--I believe that.

MR. DARROW--Have you any idea how the snake went before that time?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir.

MR. DARROW--Do you know whether he walked on his tail or not ?

MR. BRYAN--No, sir. I have no way to know. [Laughter]

MR. DARROW--Now, you refer to the bow that was put in the heaven after the flood, the rainbow. Do you believe in that ?

MR. BRYAN--Read it.

MR. DARROW--All right, Mr. Bryan, I will read it for you.

[Conclusion of Bryan's Testimony]

MR. BRYAN--Your Honor, I think I can shorten this testimony. The only purpose Mr. Darrow has is to slur at the Bible, but I will answer his questions. I will answer it all at once, and I have no objection in the world. I want the world to know that this man, who does not believe in a God, is trying to use a court in Tennessee--

MR. DARROW--I object to that. [156]

MR. BRYAN--To slur at it, and, while it will require time, I am willing to take it.

MR. DARROW--I object to your statement. I am examining you on your fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes.

Mr. Darrow and Mr. Bryan, both standing, were shaking their fists, and the Judge, banging his gavel on the table, promptly adjourned court until next morning.

The examination of Mr. Bryan had been calm enough at first, but gradually it had increased in intensity of feeling. The crowd had hung on every word, frequently breaking out into laughter or applause. Mr. Stewart and Mr. McKenzie from the first were opposed to the procedure. At one time Mr. McKenzie remarked that the defense would no more file Mr. Bryan's testimony for the Appellate Court than it would file a rattlesnake. At which Mr. Darrow, Mr. Malone, and Mr. Hays burst out:

"We will file it."

"File it from Dan to Beersheba," added Mr. Darrow.

Mr. Bryan apparently expected to put Mr. Darrow on the stand next day, but at a conference that night, Mr. Stewart is said to have told him that there would be no further examination of counsel on either side--that this was to be a lawsuit from now on.

Leslie H. Allen (ed. and compiler, 1925). Bryan and Darrow at Dayton: The Record and Documents of the "Bible-Evolution" Trial. (NY: Russell and Russell, 1967)


[1] Matthew 5:13.

[2] Jonah 1:17.

[3] Matthew 12:40

[4] Joshua 10 :12, 13.

[5] Isaiah 40:22.

[6] Genesis 7.

[7] Luke 16 :29-31.

[8] Genesis 11:4-9.

[9] Genesis 4:17.

[10] Genesis 1:5, 8.

[11] Genesis 3

[12] Genesis 3 :15, 16.

[13] Genesis 3 :14.