To me, before I was a Christian it was me who was most important and my primary desires were to get high, get girls, have fun, play sports and become a rock and roll star and always have a very cool car. Afterwards I soon found that I was far more concerned about caring for my family and being a good husband and father. Once I had fast cars or sports cars or collectable cars, but then the main thing became to always have a van to take my family and maybe a few extra kids places. Thank God I became a Christian and man, I worked hard at being a good father! My very cool kids and grandkids are a legacy way better than having a hit record or a Mustang convertible.
Anyway, we look at Thomas Huxley. Back in 2010 I wrote a blogpost entitled:
"I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political."
These days I frequently encounter college graduates who have never read one book by Ayn Rand and sometimes they have never heard of her! Chaucer and Blake and a host of other writers once deemed required reading for an English major at the very least now are becoming forgotten. What, you say, I would recommend that my kids read books from non-Christian authors and read non-believing philosopher's works? Of course! I encouraged my children to learn and have a balanced view of the world by hearing from more than one side. I am an unashamed propagandist in that I raised my kids on the Bible and Biblical themes. But I also urged them to read classics of literature and explore the assertions of alternative philosophies. Eh, anyway, back to our movie...
Thomas Huxley was the inventor of the "monkeys typing the 23rd Psalm" argument, which proved to be ridiculously idiotic...and of course he was the guy who thought a precipitate of calcium sulphate was a primitive life form - Bathybius haeckelii!
Anyway, here we go with the so-called bulldog...and I agree with the bull part, I would just put another word at the end...
Published: 14 October 2008; Republished 4 November 2009(GMT+10)
This is the pre-publication version which was subsequently abbreviated to appear in
Darwin called him, ‘My good and kind agent for the propagation of the Gospel—i.e. the devil’s Gospel.’2
It was Huxley, not Darwin, who enraptured and outraged audiences in the 1860s with talk of our ape ancestors and cave men. London turned out—from cardinals to Karl Marx—to be tantalized and tormented by his scintillating lectures. ‘Bushy-bearded labourers with blistered hands flocked to his talks on our ancestry. He drew the sort of crowds that are reserved for evangelists or rock stars today.’3
‘Out of his provocations came … the West’s new faith—agnosticism (he coined the word).’3
Youth and self-education
At the age of 12 he read James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth and had his first encounter with anti-biblical geology. An avid reader of history, science and philosophy, he taught himself almost everything he knew until he entered Charing Cross Hospital medical school.4 He put himself through Part 1 of the Bachelor of Medicine exam at London University, winning the gold medal for anatomy and physiology, but did not present to sit Part 2.5
He then became Assistant Surgeon (‘surgeon’s mate’) on HMS Rattlesnake for a southern oceans surveying voyage (1846–1850). Although Huxley had no formal university degree,6 the publishing of his researches on the structure of various marine invertebrates from this trip secured his future acceptance by the British scientific community.7 In 1851, at age 25, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (F.R.S.), which also awarded him its Royal Medal in 1852, a year before Charles Darwin received the same honour.
Huxley and DarwinIn November 1859, Darwin published his Origin of Species. He had been putting it off for some twenty years, ‘fearing execration as an atheist’, but had been galvanised into action by a letter he had received the previous year from Alfred Russel Wallace in which Wallace had broached the same idea as Darwin’s of ‘survival of the fittest’.8
Though Darwin was careful not to say it, the Origin ultimately meant that man was not created, but was merely a developed ape. ‘But without the promise of Heaven or the fear of Hell, why should we live a good life?’9 Darwin had hoped to avoid all such controversy. Not so Huxley, who earlier had written to a colleague, ‘After all, it is as respectable to be modified monkey as modified dirt’.10 Thus, Darwin needed a champion as much as Huxley needed a cause, and soon Darwin was claiming Huxley as his ‘warmest & most important supporter’,11 and ‘my good and admirable agent for the promulgation of damnable heresies’.12
Nevertheless, all this ambivalence by Huxley did not deter his fanatical and aggressive promotion of Darwin’s theory. As law professor Phillip Johnson comments, ‘Faith in evolutionary naturalism is what unites the different factions of evolutionists, not agreement on any concrete scientific propositions.15
What motivated Huxley? Historian Prof. Gertrude Himmelfarb writes, ‘Huxley was the great avenger. Raging against the inferior status of scientists compared with clergymen, he looked forward to the time when he could get his heel “into their mouths and scr-r-unch it round”. The Origin gave him the opportunity.’16
Huxley and the gospelHuxley, although an unbeliever, was thoroughly familiar with the Gospel, and had little time for Christians who compromised their position by supporting the anti-biblical belief of evolutionary naturalism. He wrote:
‘I am fairly at a loss to comprehend how any one, for a moment, can doubt that Christian theology must stand or fall with the historical trustworthiness of the Jewish Scriptures. The very conception of the Messiah, or Christ, is inextricably interwoven with Jewish history; the identification of Jesus of Nazareth with that Messiah rests upon the interpretation of passages of the Hebrew Scriptures which have no evidential value unless they possess the historical character assigned to them. If the covenant with Abraham was not made; if circumcision and sacrifices were not ordained by Jahveh; if the “ten words” were not written by God’s hand on the stone tables; if Abraham is more or less a mythical hero, such as Theseus; the story of the Deluge a fiction; that of the Fall a legend; and that of the creation the dream of a seer; if all these definite and detailed narratives of apparently real events have no more value as history than have the stories of the regal period of Rome—what is to be said about the Messianic doctrine, which is so much less clearly enunciated? And what about the authority of the writers of the books of the New Testament, who, on this theory, have not merely accepted flimsy fictions for solid truths, but have built the very foundations of Christian dogma upon legendary quicksands?’17Huxley added that ‘the Universality of the Deluge is recognised, not merely as a part of the story, but as a necessary consequence of some of its details.’18 And then, concerning the attempts of theologians to say the Flood was only a local event, he wrote, ‘A child may see the folly of it.’19
‘When Jesus spoke, as of a matter of fact, that "the Flood came and destroyed them all," did he believe that the Deluge really took place, or not? It seems to me that, as the narrative mentions Noah’s wife, and his sons’ wives, there is good scriptural warranty for the statement that the antediluvians married and were given in marriage; and I should have thought that their eating and drinking might be assumed by the firmest believer in the literal truth of the story. Moreover, I venture to ask what sort of value, as an illustration of God’s methods of dealing with sin, has an account of an event that never happened? If no Flood swept the careless people away, how is the warning of more worth than the cry of “Wolf” when there is no wolf? If Jonah’s three days’ residence in the whale is not an “admitted reality,” how could it “warrant belief” in the “coming resurrection?” … Suppose that a Conservative orator warns his hearers to beware of great political and social changes, lest they end, as in France, in the domination of a Robespierre; what becomes, not only of his argument, but of his veracity, if he, personally, does not believe that Robespierre existed and did the deeds attributed to him?’20Concerning Matthew 19:5 [‘Have ye not read, that he which made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and the twain shall become one flesh?’], Huxley wrote,
‘If divine authority is not here claimed for the twenty-fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis, what is the value of language? And again, I ask, if one may play fast and loose with the story of the Fall as a “type” or “allegory,” what becomes of the foundation of Pauline theology?’21And concerning 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 [‘For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.’], Huxley wrote,
‘If Adam may be held to be no more real a personage than Prometheus, and if the story of the Fall is merely an instructive “type,” comparable to the profound Promethean mythus, what value has Paul’s dialectic?’Summing up the position of theologians who compromised the words of the Bible, Huxley observed that ‘the position they have taken up is hopelessly untenable’.
Darwin’s death and the AbbeyWhen Darwin died, it was due mainly to the efforts of Huxley that he was buried, not in his home town of Downe, but in Westminster Abbey. Huxley and his godless friends coerced Canon Farrar of Westminster Abbey, while others whipped up support in the House of Commons. Thus, the liberal clergy, so despised by Huxley for their readiness to compromise, gave the remains of the agnostic Darwin spiritual recognition in the Abbey.
Huxley died 13 years later. Some suggested a state funeral in the Abbey, but to his credit ‘Huxley had anticipated and scotched that idea’.22 Instead he had a simple funeral in his country town, attended by some of his scientific and atheist friends. One of these gave his wishful opinion that ‘“he that believeth not shall be damned”—is reserved for common people; it does not apply to Fellows of the Royal Society’.23
What is the relevance of Huxley’s life to us today?In 1981, the National Academy of Sciences [USA] resolved that ‘Religion and science are separate and mutually exclusive realms of human thought whose presentation in the same context leads to misunderstanding of both scientific theory and religious belief.’15 Law professor Phillip Johnson comments: ‘The life of Thomas Huxley is the best answer to such nonsense. In reality scientists (like other people) are obsessed with the God question and the whole point of evolutionary naturalism is to keep the Divine Foot, and the people gathered behind it, from getting inside the door.’15
Huxley’s Debate with Wilberforce
Both Huxley and Wilberforce had written reviews of the Origin beforehand. Huxley had produced 5,000 words of adulation for The Times of December 26, 1859. Wilberforce, who was vice-president of the British Association, had a first-class honours degree in mathematics, and was an enthusiastic ornithologist, had written a 18,700-word, carefully argued, scientific assessment for The Quarterly Review of July 1860,24 in which he devoted six pages (pp. 239–245) to the absence in the geological record of any case of one species developing into another. When Darwin read Wilberforce’s Origin review, he said, ‘It is uncommonly clever; it picks out with skill all the most conjectural parts, and brings forward well all the difficulties.’25
At the Oxford meeting, Wilberforce gave a condensed version of his Origin review. His speech ‘rather than reflecting ignorance, prejudice and religious sentiment, [as commonly portrayed] in fact encapsulated many of the scientific objections people of his day had to Darwin’s book’.26 ‘As he saw it, and as most of his audience saw it, he was showing that it was, as a matter of scientific fact false, and only having established this did he go on to say in effect “and a good thing too”.’27 Huxley then spoke and was followed by Robert FitzRoy (former captain of the Beagle), and Darwin’s friend, Joseph Hooker.
Most modern-day accounts of the debate include a story that Wilberforce supposedly asked Huxley whether he was related to an ape on his grandfather’s or his grandmother’s side. To which Huxley replied that he would prefer an ape for a grandfather to a man who employed his faculties and influence for the purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific debate.
In fact, it is extremely unlikely that this alleged exchange occurred at the debate. J.R. Lucas sums up the evidence for and against this story in a long article in The Historical Journal28 summarized in Nature.29 He points out that the audience was larger than a full House of Commons, which means that, in the noisy and somewhat gladiatorial circumstances of the debate, not everyone would have heard everything that was said, or have correctly heard everything that was said.
Hooker did not mention it in his letter to Darwin, written two days later.30 Journalists’ reports in current periodicals did not mention it. Lucas writes, ‘[W]e have a journalist’s report … in three issues of The Athenaeum and a briefer one in Jackson’s Oxford Journal. These accounts give a different picture. Neither of the journalists present reported these tremendous words or noted their tremendous effect.’31 Similarly the Evening Star of the following day carried an account of the debate, but made no mention of the alleged incident.32
The various versions in letters by Darwin’s supporters, published several decades after the event, vary considerably. ‘[I]t received little attention until the affair was reported in Darwin’s Life and Letters, compiled in 1887 by his son Francis.’33,34 No verbatim account of the debate was kept.
According to Huxley himself, his own words were, ‘If then, said I the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence & yet who employs these faculties & that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.’35 Notice that Huxley was asking himself a hypothetical question. Had Wilberforce asked it, Huxley would surely have said, ‘The Bishop asked me … ’ or, addressing Wilberforce, ‘You asked me … ’, but he didn’t say either of these things. Nor did he mention the word ‘grandmother’.
Adrian Desmond, Huxley’s biographer, writes: ‘Perceptions of the event differed so widely that talk of a “victor” is ridiculous. Huxley believed himself “the most popular man in Oxford for full four & twenty hours afterwards”. … Hooker thought that … it was he (Hooker) who subsequently “smashed” Wilberforce “amid rounds of applause”. … In the chaos the punchdrunk combatants failed to see the jaunty Wilberforce leaving. He bore “no malice”, convinced that he had floored Huxley.’36
Nevertheless, despite the biased and mutated accounts of this meeting, or perhaps because of them, history has come to regard this event as something of a turning point in the public acceptance of the theory of evolution.
For an updated version of this box, see Huxley’s Debate with Wilberforce—Setting the record straight.
- Not to be confused with ‘Darwin’s Rottweiler’, a term coined by Oxford theologian Alister McGrath about Richard Dawkins. Return to text.
- C. Darwin to T.H. Huxley, 8 August 1860. Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Edited by Francis Darwin, 2:123–124, D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1911. Return to text.
- Desmond, A., Huxley: From Devil’s Disciple to Evolution’s High Priest, Addison-Wesley, Massachusetts, USA, 1997, adapted from dust-cover and p. xvii. Return to text.
- ‘In his teens he taught himself German, eventually becoming fluent and used by Charles Darwin as a translator of scientific material in Germen.’ Thomas Henry Huxley, Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Henry_Huxley, 6 February 2008. Return to text.
- Ref. 3, pp. 34–35. Return to text.
- ‘His only degree “qualifications” thus were honorary doctorates—from Breslau, Edinburgh, Dublin, Cambridge, Würzburg, Oxford, Bologna, and Erlangen’ received in his later years.’ Encyclopaedia Britannica 6:179, 1995. Return to text.
- Two papers by Huxley were published by the Linnean Society and one by the Royal Society. Return to text.
- See Grigg, R., Alfred Russel Wallace: ‘co-inventor’ of Darwinism, Creation 27(4):33–35, 2005. Return to text.
- Ref. 3, p. 266. Return to text.
- T.H. Huxley to Frederick Dyster, 30 January 1859, as quoted in ref. 3, p. 253. Return to text.
- Ref. 3, pp. 267. Return to text.
- C. Darwin to T.H. Huxley, 16 December 1859, More Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin and A.C. Seward, John Murray, London, 1903, 1:131, Letter 85, as quoted in darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F1548.1&viewtype=text&pageseq=1, 12 March 2008. Return to text.
- T. H. Huxley to C. Darwin, Nov. 23, 1859. Ref. 2, pp. 26–27. Return to text.
- Blinderman, C. and Joyce, D., The Huxley File, #4 Darwin’s Bulldog, aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/guide4.html, 12 March 2008. Return to text.
- Johnson, P.E., Thomas Huxley, A Pioneer in a Still-Raging Scientific Debate, Washington Times, 4 January 1998, p. B8. Return to text.
- Ernle, Quarterly Review, ccxxxix, (1923), 224, as quoted by Himmelfarb, G., Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, Chatto &Windus, London, p. 217, 1959. Return to text.
- Huxley, T., Science and Hebrew Tradition, Vol. 4 of Huxley’s Collected Essays, ‘The Lights of the Church and the Light of Science’, (1890), pp. 207–208, aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE4/Lights.html, 18 March 2008. Return to text.
- Ref. 17, p. 214. Return to text.
- Ref. 17, p. 225. Return to text.
- Ref. 17, pp. 232–233. Return to text.
- Ref. 17, pp. 235–236. Return to text.
- Ref. 3, p. 611. Return to text.
- Ref. 3, pp. 612–613. Return to text.
- Wilberforce’s Review of the Origin of Species is available at usp.nus.edu.sg/victorian/science/science_texts/wilberforce.htm (last accessed 14 May 2010), 26 March 2008. Return to text.
- C. Darwin to J.D. Hooker, July 1860, ref. 2, pp. 117–118. Return to text.
- Gauld C., Update: The Huxley-Wilberforce Debate, [An analysis of 63 books on the subject.] Ships Resource Center, www1.umn.edu/ships/updates/wilbrfrz.htm, 13 March 2008. Return to text.
- Lucas, J.R.,Wilberforce and Huxley: a Legendary Encounter, The Historical Journal 22(2):319, 1979. Return to text.
- Ref. 27, pp. 313–330. Return to text.
- Lucas, J., Wilberforce no ape, Nature 287:480, 9 October 1980. Return to text.
- Bowlby, J., Charles Darwin: A New Life, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, pp. 354–55, 1990. Return to text.
- The Athenaeum, nos. 1705, 1706, 1707, 30 June, 7 July, 14 July 1860; Jackson’s Oxford Journal 7 July, 1860. Quoted in ref. 27, p. 315. Return to text.
- Ref. 30, pp. 358–59. Return to text.
- See Blackmore, V. and Page, A., Evolution the Great Debate, A Lion Book, Oxford, UK, p. 103, 1989. Return to text.
- One source is Mrs Isabella Sidgwick, writing as ‘Grandmother’ in Macmillan’s Magazine 78(468):433–434, October 1898, i.e. 38 years later. Available in ref. 27, pp. 313–314. Return to text.
- T.H. Huxley to F. Dyster, 9 September 1860, quoted in ref. 3, p. 279. Return to text.
- Ref. 3, p. 280. Return to text.
Huxley was quite right about the implications of Darwinism for Christianity. If you actually believe in evolution, then you are fooling yourself if you think Jesus Christ was the Messiah and was able to be the Atonement for the sins of all mankind. You see, if Adam and Eve were not real, the Garden of Eden not real, the Fall of mankind not real then there would be no original sin for Jesus to take upon Himself. If there was no Noahic Flood and if these other events were not historical fact, then Jesus Christ was mistaken about history and that means He was not the Son of God, not perfect, not the Messiah and therefore Christianity is just groundless religion like all other religions...like Darwinism, for instance. Yes, plenty of Christians have taken an Old Earth position or a Theistic evolution position. Such a philosophy will not send them to Hell if they are already saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But it certainly is gratingly illogical and makes no sense if viewed in the light of the statements of Christ Himself that bulwarked the Genesis account as absolutely accurate and literal. So if you believe Jesus knew whether Genesis was literal or not, you cannot accept OEC or Theistic evolution and have a consistent worldview. Just sayin'...
Darwinism is a religion. It is a key cornerstone to Naturalism/Materialism/Atheism/Humanism (there are many facets to the repudiation of God and the supernatural). Isn't it odd that all sorts of science fiction/aliens/ghosts/demons are key plot devices in modern movies and television shows? The supernatural is quite popular, but just in the form of ridiculous and utterly absurd demonic spirits and ghosts and vampires and werewolves and of course aliens. Oh, and I almost forgot Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman...completely unsubstantiated speculative BS presented as science when it is pseudoscience at best. The Big Bang is a myth. Stephen Hawking is a brilliant-but-misled evangelist for Atheopathy. Richard Dawkins is another Atheopath. We may see one or both of them wind up in the Hall one of these days...Hmmm...
Huxley versus Wilberforce? Consider the debate and the combatants and you see clearly the link between Darwinism and racism, and you also see the link between Christianity and the end of slavery/racism. Wilberforce and Christians in general fought to end segregation and Jim Crow laws that had been supported by liberal Darwinists. After all, according to Darwin and Huxley, people of color were "less evolved" and were considered subhuman. Consider the evidence:
that's why all this has happened." - Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn
What if Darwin had written his tome and there had been no Thomas Huxley to push the idea all over the Western world? After all, Pasteur had proven with finality that no life came from non-life at around the time Darwin was writing his book. Mendel was just introducing the world to genetics. With no Darwin, the world may well have made huge advances in medicine that Darwinism has hindered greatly(advancing myths like junk DNA and vestigial organs, for instance)...and with no Huxley, Darwin's book might have just been noted and discussed and left behind by the advance of real science. So Thomas Huxley has a well-deserved spot in the Darwinist Hall of Shame!
Oh, you wondered if monkeys could type the 23rd Psalm? The article below has a bit of a repeat of the one that is key to this blogpost, but it adds much detail to the debate...