The scene features lawyer Henry Drummond (played by Spencer Tracy) questioning Bible expert Matthew Harrison Brady (played by Fredric March). Here’s the transcript:
Brady: “Is it possible that something is holy to the celebrated agnostic!?”
Drummond: “Yes! the individual human mind!… In a child’s power to master the multiplication table there is more sanctity than in all your shouted amens and holy-holies and hossana’s, an idea is a greater monument than a cathedral and the advance of man’s knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turnt to snakes for the parting of the waters. But now, are we to forgo all this progress because Mr. Brady now frightens us with a fable?
Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain, you have to pay for it, sometimes I thinks there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says… Alright you can have the telephone, but you lose privacy and the charm of distance. Madam you may vote, but at a price, you lose the right to retreat behind the powderpuff or your petticoat. Mister! you may conquer the air, but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.
Darwin took us forward to a hilltop from where we could look back and see the way from which we came, but for this insight and for this knowledge we must abandon our faith in the pleasant poetry of Genesis”
Brady: “We must not abandon Faith! Faith is a most important thing!”
Drummond: “Then why did God plague us with the power to think Mr.Brady, why do you deny the one faculty of man that raises him above the other creatures of the Earth, the power of his brain to reason? what other merit have we? the Elephant is larger, the Horse is swifter and stronger, the Butterfly is far more beautiful, the Mosquito is more prolific, even the simple Sponge is more durable! what does a Sponge think?”
Brady: “I dont know, I’m a Man not a Sponge!”
Drummond: “What do you think a Sponge thinks?”
Brady: “If the Lord wishes a Sponge to think, it thinks.”
Drummond: “Do you think a Man should have the same privileges of a Sponge?”
Brady: “Of course!”
Drummond: “This man wishes to accorded the same privileges of a Sponge! He wishes to think!”
(Thanks to Brian for the link!)