Professor of Anthropology

Jonathan Marks

Jonathan Marks
Department of Anthropology

phone: (704) 687-2519
fax: (704) 687-3209

JUDGE RAULSTON: Do you want Mr. Bryan sworn?


BRYAN: I can make affirmation; I can say, "So help me God, I will tell the truth."

DARROW: No, I take it you will tell the truth. You have given considerable study to the Bible, haven't you, Mr. Bryan?

BRYAN: Yes, sir, I have tried to.

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.

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

DARROW: If you comment to any extent, those comments have been interpretations?

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

DARROW: But you have studied that question, of course?

BRYAN: Of what?

DARROW: Interpretation of the Bible.

BRYAN: On this particular question?

DARROW: Yes, sir.

BRYAN: Yes, sir.

DARROW: Then you have made a general study of it?

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

DARROW: Do you claim that everything in the Bible should be literally interpreted?

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." 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.

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?

BRYAN: When I read that a big fish swallowed Jonah -- it does not say whale.

DARROW: Doesn't it? Are you sure?

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 can make both do what He pleases.

DARROW: Mr. Bryan, doesn't the New Testament say whale [Matthew 12:40]?

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 to where it says fish, it does not say whale.

DARROW: But in the New Testament it says whale, doesn't it?

BRYAN: That may be true. I cannot remember in my own mind what I read about it.

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?

BRYAN: I am not prepared to say that; the Bible merely says it was done.

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

BRYAN: You may guess; you evolutionists guess.

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

BRYAN: But you do not do it often.

DARROW: You are not prepared to say whether that fish was made especially to swallow a man or not?

BRYAN: The Bible doesn't say; so I am not prepared to say.

DARROW: You don't know whether that was fixed up specially for the purpose.

BRYAN: No, the Bible doesn't say.

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

BRYAN: Yes, sir. And let me add, one miracle is just as easy to believe as another.

DARROW: It is for me.

BRYAN: It is for me, too.

DARROW: Just as hard?

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.

DARROW: Perfectly easy to believe that Jonah swallowed the whale?

BRYAN: The Bible says so. The Bible doesn't make as extreme statements as evolutionists do.

DARROW: That may be a question, Mr. Bryan, about some of those you have known.

BRYAN: The only thing is, you have a definition of fact that includes imagination.

DARROW: And you have a definition that excludes everything but imagination!

STEWART: I object to that as argumentative.

DARROW: The witness must not argue with me, either. Do you consider the story of Jonah and the whale a miracle?

BRYAN: I think it is.

DARROW: Do you believe Joshua made the sun stand still?

BRYAN: I believe what the Bible says. I suppose you mean that the earth stood still?

DARROW: I don't know. I'm talking about the Bible now.

BRYAN: I accept the Bible absolutely.

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?

BRYAN: I do.

DARROW: Do you believe at that time the entire sun went around the earth?

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

DARROW: Do you believe that the men who wrote it thought that the day could be lengthened or that the sun could be stopped?

BRYAN: I don't know what they thought.

DARROW: You don't know?

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

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

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.

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.

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?

BRYAN: I believe that he was inspired.

DARROW: Can you answer my question?

BRYAN: When you let me finish the statement.

DARROW: It is a simple question, but finish it.

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

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

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.

DARROW: Whoever inspired it, do you think whoever inspired it believed that the sun went around the earth?

BRYAN: I believe it was inspired by the Almighty, and he may have used language that could be understood at that time, instead of using language that could not be understood until Darrow was born. [Laughter and applause.]

DARROW: So it might not -- it might be subject to construction, might it not?

BRYAN: It might have been used in language that could be understood then.

DARROW: That means it is subject to construction?

BRYAN: That is your construction. I am answering your question.

DARROW: Is that correct?

BRYAN: That is my answer to it.

DARROW: Can you answer?

BRYAN: I might say Isaiah spoke of God sitting upon the circle of the earth.

DARROW: I am not talking about Isaiah.

JUDGE RAULSTON: Let him illustrate if he wants to.

DARROW: It is your opinion that the passage was subject to construction?

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

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

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 a limit to the power of the hand of the Almighty God, that made the universe.

DARROW: I read that years ago, in your "Prince of Peace." 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?

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.

DARROW: We know also the sun does not stand still.

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

DARROW: I ask you if it does stand still?

BRYAN: You know as well as I know.

DARROW: Better. You have no doubt about it?

BRYAN: No, no.

DARROW: And the earth moves around it?

BRYAN: Yes, but I think there is nothing improper if you will protect the Lord against against your criticism.

DARROW: I suppose He needs it?

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

DARROW: And that you call "interpretation?"

BRYAN: No, sir, I would not call it interpretation.

DARROW: I say you would call it interpretation at this time, to say it meant something then?

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

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


DARROW: You have not?

BRYAN: No, sir; the God I believe in could have taken care of that, Mr. Darrow.

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


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

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

DARROW: Don't you believe it?

BRYAN: I would want to hear expert testimony on that.

DARROW: You have never investigated that subject?

BRYAN: I don't think I have ever had the question asked.

DARROW: Or ever thought of it?

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

DARROW: You believe the story of the flood to be a literal interpretation?

BRYAN: Yes, sir.

DARROW: When was that flood?

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

DARROW: About 2400 B.C.?

BRYAN: That has been the estimate of a man that is accepted today. I would not say it is accurate.

Clarence Darrow Cross-Examines

William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes Trial

(Monday, July 20, 1925)