Religion in the biology classroom, circa 1951


From the Bizarre Vintage Americana Time Capsule: “City of the Bees,” a 1951 bee filmstrip from the “Moody Institute of Science.”

I happened across this film while researching an upcoming post. Until twenty minutes in, I suspected the MIS was another name for the Dharma Initiative. I started looking surreptitiously for Marvin Candle. But everything changed around 22:00, when retro-charming, grainy footage of dancing bees was suddenly displaced by the Ten Commandments! Hey. . . this isn’t really about science, is it?

Imagine the clatter of the classroom tape projector. Be surprised by the gratuitous riot scenes, no doubt caused by reefer-mad materialist mobs, at 24:00. Be horrified by the “warped and twisted” (!) practices of unspecified native tribes. The Bible finally appears at 26:00, and the rest of this confused film is a sermon.

I wonder: were these films widely shown in public schools? The biology is the thinnest possible veneer for overt religious instruction, and I hope public schools would have objected, even in 1951. But for all I know, they’re still shown in science classes today.

(Turns out the Moody Institute of Science wasn’t the forebear of the Dharma Initiative after all, but another DI – which is all about ID.)

Want more faux-biology? Here’s some carnivorous plants! With rockets, and . . . oh, whatever.

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3 Responses to Religion in the biology classroom, circa 1951

  1. Snail says:

    I’m speechless. As, indeed, was the man in the carnivorous plant film, because I lost sound just as the grasshopper carnage began. Probably for the best.

  2. duh says:

    dude, these films clearly say “a SERMON from science” in the beginning. Shown in a classroom? get real. Should be shown in a classroom? different question…

  3. cicada says:

    Oh, they WERE shown in public school classrooms – that’s not the question. People remember seeing them. The question is how widespread was the replacement of biology with religion, via films like this, in science curricula.

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