When prosecuting attorney Matthew Brady is questioning Howard on the witness stand, Howard tells Brady that cells are "little bugs like, in the water." A few moments later, Brady asks thirteen-year-old Howard "how did man come out of this slimy mess of bugs and serpents?" according to what Cates, his science teacher, has taught him. Clearly, cells are not bugs, and Brady is way off base and being deliberately provocative to use the word "serpents" as a step in man's evolution. Brady goes on to say that Cates claims that "you and I aren’t even descended from good American monkeys!" Brady also uses the words "slime and ooze" to suggest that Cates's teachings about the workings of evolution are in some way degrading to the townspeople's belief that God had made mankind in his likeness.
The defense attorney for Cates, Drummond, launches an argument that faith in God can exist alongside the theory of evolution. The townspeople that oppose Cates's teaching are unwilling to accept that there can be truths found in both creationism and evolution; the theories do not have to be mutually exclusive. The misunderstanding on the part of the townspeople, apparently voiced by Brady, is that to accept evolutionary theory is to deny God and the teachings of the Bible. The testimony of zoologists, geologists, and archeologists is not allowed to be entered into evidence in the trial, because their knowledge is thought by the townspeople to be "irrelevant" instead of enlightening with regard to the work of Charles Darwin.