Darrow Takes the Stand

THOUGH Clarence Darrow’s examination of William Jennings Bryan is famous, less well known is Bryan’s examination of Darrow. After the trial, for the sake of the press alone, Bryan and Darrow switched roles.

Bryan: Do you believe in the existence of God as described in the Bible?

Darrow: I do not know of any description of God as in the Bible . . . . As to the origin of the universe and what is back of it, I do not pretend to know. I haven’t the intimate acquaintance with it that Mr. Bryan has.

Bryan: Do you believe that the Bible is the revealed will of God, inspired, and trustworthy?

Darrow: I believe there is much value in the Bible, but I do not believe it is written or inspired by God . . . . Portions in it are . . . sublime, like such portions of any other great book . . . . I might even say this of Mr. Bryan’s In His Image, if I could find a sublime part.

Bryan asked if Darrow believed in the divinity of Christ (he said Jesus was only a “great Jew who would deliver the Jews from their physical bondage"), miracles (no). Finally he asked, “Do you believe in the immortality of the soul?”

Darrow replied, “I have been searching for proof of this all my life with the same desire to find it that is incident to every living being, and I have never found any evidence of it.”


[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #55 in 1997]

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