The liberal, progressive views, however, prevailed, manifested, for example, in the evolution-creationism debate, which had been less vocal since the actions of the 1967 Tennessee legislature and the 1968 Supreme Court. In 1987, however, the issue once again reached the Court in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard, in which the Court in a 7-to-2 vote found unconstitutional a Louisiana law which required creationism to be taught alongside evolution in public schools. Though the law did not mention God or the Bible, the clear intention was to include creationism as a science equal to the theory of evolution. At the time, this ruling seemed like the final defeat for creationism and the fundamentalist push to teach the idea in the schools.
Expressing this general sentiment in society was the production of NBC-TV's second take on Inherit the Wind in March 1988, starring Jason Robards as Drummond and Kirk Douglas as Bryan. This Inherit, however, lacked the cultural impact of the other versions. The broadcast gained the attention of few critics and journalists and passed through the culture fairly unnoticed. As the only available review suggests, Inherit was discounted as "liberal melodrama" without any parallel to contemporary society. This version of Inherit, therefore, although it came on the fringe of the fundamentalist upsurge, reveals little about the modernist-fundamentalist conflict at the time.
In November of 1995, Vanderbilt University hosted the symposium "Religion and Public Life: 70 Years After the Scopes Trial.": As scholar after scholar spoke, the idea emerged that " society has not come very far from the issues raised at the Scopes trial: the place of evolution and creationism in the classroom, the lines between church and state; the professional responsibility of educators and the democratic rights of parents and citizens in devising curriculums, and much more" (31). Each of these issues lies at the heart of the modernist-fundamentalist conflict as each concerns the power to regulate society and guide the future generations. Scientists for years had avoided tangling themselves up in this conflict for, by their very nature, the issues involved were contentious and volatile. But with the rise of fundamentalism, the debate returned to the public forum. This "battle between rural piety and city cynicism", which Dayton staged in 1925, may not be all that removed from the present (32). During only the first few months of this year, the creationism-evolution debate reached a height unforeseen since the 1967 retraction of Tennessee's anti-evolution law. Unlike 1987, with the single case from Louisiana, 1996 has seen a sweeping cultural need to revive this debate and its artistic manifestation in Inherit the Wind.
It's been a recurring dream over forty years that I'm standing backstage to go on again in Inherit the Wind. I've had the dream for years (34).Randall's persistence and his enthusiasm for the show succeeded in drawing two great stars to his stage, and George C. Scott joined the cast as Drummond, complimenting Charles Durning's portrayal of Brady. Although both actors seem tired as they labor across the stage (Scott, in fact, missed a number of performances because of illness), their presence is imposing, nonetheless. As the two joust back and forth, the audience cannot help but feel the tensions between these two formidable cultural forces.
These cultural forces surrounding the current staging of the Inherit have surfaced as two strains. One is the religious right's rhetoric of anti-evolution; the other is the recent debate in the Tennessee legislature, once again, about the teaching of creationism. Speaking out most vocally for the religious right is Buchanan. Buchanan has stated: "I think [parents] have a right to insist that Godless evolution not be taught to their children or their children not be indoctrinated in it "(38). The vehemence of Buchanan's speech reveals that behind this creationism-evolution debate, in addition to the idea of who will control, is the belief that the other side of the conflict is not only socially wrong but morally wrong. This applies precisely to the orthodox-progressive conflict which Hunter discusses. For characterizing the orthodox position is the fervent faith in the rightness of their beliefs. To them, there is only one truth, but to the progressives, there may be many - thus, the vast world of difference between the two groups.
Across the country, these two opposing belief systems are clashing not only in the public forum, but in the legislature's of numerous states. In Georgia, this year, the school district of Hall County has adopted a policy requiring that the teaching of evolution include discussion of creationism. Alabama is planning to insert a disclaimer in biology textbooks statewide reading: "No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact "(39). Tennessee, therefore, is just one of many Southern state adopting such policies approving of creationism. Just last month, March 1996, the Tennessee Senate considered a new "Monkey Bill", which would allow school boards to dismiss teachers who teach evolution as fact. And in February, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill urging homes, businesses places of worship and schools to post and observe the Ten Commandments, also rejecting an amendment to the proposed law that would exempt Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist houses of worship from complying. The evolution bill eventually failed in the Tennessee Senate by a 20-to-13 vote on March 28 of this year. But the very consideration of a law such as this suggests that, as the country, we are much closer to the past than we often realize.