HOWARD. […] When the whole world was covered with water, there was nuthin' but worms and blobs of jelly. And you and your whole family was worms! […]
MELINDA. Howard Blair, that's sinful talk! I'm gonna tell my pa and he'll make you wash your mouth out with soap!
HOWARD. Ahhh, your old man's a monkey! (I, I, 40-47)
This argument between Melinda and Howard shows how evolution has been misconstrued by many. Maybe they shouldn't be so mad at Bert for teaching evolution, because at least he could set kids like these straight.
HAWKER. Hot dog?
(HORNBECK up-ends his suitcase and sits on it.)
HORNBECK. Now that poses a pretty problem!
Which is hungrier—my stomach or my soul?
(HORNBECK buys a hot dog.)
ELIJAH (Miffed) Are you an Evolutionist? An infidel? A sinner? (I, I, 281-89)
Hornbeck's joke points out the way that religion can sometimes seem to be sold or pushed onto people like a petty product—like hot dogs in the park.
BRADY. […] What a challenge it is, to fit on the old armor again! To test the steel of our Truth against the blasphemies of Science! To stand— (I, I, 507-09)
Here Science and Religion are like two professional wrestlers… and they are not on the same tag team. When Brady uses rhetoric like this, he intends for Truth and Science to sound completely incompatible. If that were true, then Bert's actions must've been wrong.
DUNLAP. (Vigorously) I believe in the Holy Word of God. And I believe in Matthew Harrison Brady! (I, II, 85-86)
There's some kind of creepy hero-worship seeping into the discourse here, as Brady becomes about as important as God himself. We think Brady'd agree with Dunlap. Ugh.
DRUMMOND. You murder a wife, it isn't nearly as bad as murdering an old wives' tale. Kill one of their fairy-tale notions, and they call down the wrath of God, Brady, and the state legislature. (I, II, 294-97)
Do you think what Drummond says here is true? Can society handle a murderer easier than someone with revolutionary ideas?
BRADY. […] I say that these Bible-haters, these "Evil-utionists," are brewers of poison. (II, II, 50-51)
Oh, he went there. Even Brady isn't too high and mighty to make a nice pun on "evolutionists." But he's playing his listeners, trying to make them fear evolutionary science. He wants to make people shake in their boots at the prospect of new ideas… which kind of makes him sound like he's opposed to learning, doesn't it?
CATES. Religion's supposed to comfort people, isn't it? Not frighten them to death! (II, II, 206-07)
Clearly, Bert and Reverend Brown don't agree about the purpose of religion. Bert thinks religion should be a comfort in people's lives; Rev. Brown thinks it should scare people into doing what he thinks is right or good.
DRUMMOND. […] How can you be so cocksure that the body of scientific knowledge systematized in the writings of Charles Darwin is, in any way, irreconcilable with the spirit of the Book of Genesis? (II, II, 426-29)
Drummond, unlike Brady and many of the townspeople, believes it's possible to reconcile Science and Religion. One can believe in evolution, and believe that it is God's hand that set evolution in motion, for example. This also foreshadows the very last scene of the play…
HORNBECK. We're growing an odd crop of agnostics this year! (III, 656-57)
Hornbeck is surprised that Drummond can quote the Bible. He's got religious people stuffed into a pretty tiny box, and he has trouble wrapping his head around a complex guy like Drummond. Drummond seems like a religious man, in some respects: he values moral rightness, truth, and justice. But he ain't no fool.