Friday, July 16, 2010

"An Idea is a greater monument than a Cathedral"



Thus thunders Spencer Tracy in the courtroom in the film 'Inherit the Wind (1960).' The film was loosely based on the Scopes Monkey Trial in the Tennessee state of the USA in 1925. A biology teacher was prosecuted for going against the law and teaching Evolution in school. It was a landmark event that brought much attention to science teaching in schools in the USA, though not much positive result came out of the trial.

It amazes me that teaching Evolution in schools is still debated hotly in the West and there are demands of teaching Intelligent design as well. Charles Darwin would surely have anticipated the repercussions of his book On the Origin of Species and that must be why he published the book almost 30 years after his trip in the Beagle. The ripples created by him are still felt so far into the future.

Should we feel happy that there is not a murmur of protest in India against teaching Evolution in schools? Does it mean that we are in some way superior and advanced? Well I do not think so. It only shows how comfortably we compartmentalise our lives - what we learn in schools is not allowed to seep into our conscious and create any lasting impact. No way we would allow our learning to inform our world view. Studying is to find a means for living. Nothing more. We have a hoary past and a sanctified tradition to live by. And we are content with that. Proud in fact.

Spencer Tracy questions the prosecuting attorney, who is an authority on the Bible, as to wherefrom Cain got a wife and the lawyer says that he does not know and that the Bible satisfies him. Tracy replies "It frightens me to think of the state of learning in the world, if everybody had your sense of driving curiosity." Frightens me too.

4 comments:

krishnakumar said...

Good. Let me be honest. Way too strong and serious stuff. Not endowed mentally to appreciate. I sort of like trivial things which are witty.(being a trivial person)

Vijay said...

I Completely agree with your view that studies are for earning a living. It has been neatly brought out in "Three Idiots" a movie I could see any number of times.....one of the rare movies with a message.

prema -just sharing my thoughts said...

hai , if at least a trickle of what we learnt in class room had seeped through our minds do you think we would continue to be like this in in India. Forget heavy ideas like evolution. what about basic concepts like punctucality,truthfulness, honesty, acceptance, forgive ness etc. school give a lot of value based education and carefully ensure that our children are capable of finding an easy way out.....

prema -just sharing my thoughts said...

hai, geetha what a fantastic clipping. Just imagine the chaos that would be leashed out , if someone in India dared to speak out against any "GOD". PLS.DO NOT TALK ABOUT PRESENT DAY RULERS /HYPOCRITES... THE MOVIE WOULDNOT GET PAST CENSOR... MUCH LESS TO THE THEATRE... WHAT A Thought ! FANTASTIC