Huxley's Words on Evolution

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The term Agnostic was coined by Huxley to describe himself as a skeptic, who felt that through reason, man can discover our beginnings, who we are, and our future. To him, the scientific method (the use of the mind to measure observable data to arrive at knowledge), was the only way to obtain certitude. To him religion and science were "twin sisters," but theology and science mortal enemies, with science devastating its theological opponent in the years to come." 

Comment  ** He believes Theology is opposed to freedom of thought and to the spirit of scientific investigation.


"It is a truth that every living creature begins its existence under a form different from and simpler than that which it eventually attains. For example: the acorn to that of an Oak tree; the egg of a caterpillar to the caterpillar; the caterpillar to the butterfly; the egg of a dog to the dog. Also the development of vertebrate animals, Lizard, Snake Frog or Fish. It is the same in the development of man who is far nearer to the Apes than Apes are to the Dog. Man is closer in his skeletal structure to the Gorilla than he is to some Apes."

"But if Man be separated by no greater structural barrier from the brutes than they are from one another – then it seems to follow that if any process of physical causation can be discovered by which the genera and families of ordinary animals have been produced, that process of causation is amply sufficient to account for the origin of Man. In other words, if it could be shown that the Marmosets, (small bushy-tailed tropical American monkeys), for example, have arisen by gradual modification of the ordinary Platyrhini (a division of monkey without an external bony auditory opening), are modified ramifications of a primitive stock – then, there would be no rational ground for doubting that man might have originated, in the one case, by the gradual modification of a man-like ape; or, in the other case, as a ramification of the same primitive stock as those apes."

"At the present moment, there is but one hypothesis regarding the origin of species of animals in general which has any scientific existence – that propounded by Mr. Darwin." 

Comment ** He is dealing with external accidentals which can be observed and measured, not with the essence and nature of the thing which cannot be physically measured.

"But even leaving Mr. Darwin’s views aside, the whole analogy of natural operations furnishes so complete and crushing an argument against the intervention of any but what are termed secondary causes, in the production of all the phenomena of the universe; that, in view of the intimate relations between Man and the rest of the living world, and between the forces exerted by the latter and all other forces, I can see no excuse for doubting that all are coordinated terms of Nature’s great progression, from the formless to the formed – from the inorganic to the organic – from blind force to conscious intellect and will." 

Comment ** Nature merely improves and lifts itself up to higher levels???



Huxley's conclusions

"Notwithstanding diligent search, I have been unable to discover that the universality of the Deluge has any defender left, at least among those who have so far mastered the rudiments of natural knowledge as to be able to appreciate the weight of evidence against it. But I am quite aware that the strength of the demonstration that no universal Deluge ever took place has produced a change of front in the army of apologetic writers. They have imagined that the substitution of the adjective "partial" for "universal," will save the credit of the Pentateuch, and permit them, after all, without too many blushes, to declare that the progress of modern science only strengthens the authority of Moses. . . the justice of this observation must be admitted, that, in still earlier times, the pastoral Hebrews very probably had yet more restricted notions of what constituted the "whole earth." Moreover, I for one, fully agree that the motive, or generative incident, of the whole story is to be sought in the occasionally excessive and desolating floods of the Euphrates and the Tigris.

Let us, provisionally, accept the theory of a partial deluge, and try to form a clear mental picture of the occurrence. Let us suppose that, for forty days and forty nights, such a vast quantity of water was poured upon the ground that the whole surface of Mesopotamia was covered by water to a depth certainly greater, probably much greater, than fifteen cubits, or twenty feet. The inundation prevails upon the earth for one hundred and fifty days, and then the flood gradually decreases, until on the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ark, which had previously floated on its surface, grounds upon the "mountains of Ararat". Then, we are to imagine the further subsidence of the flood to take place so gradually that it was not until nearly two months and a half after this time (that is to say, on the first day of the tenth month) that the "tops of the mountains" became visible. Hence it follows that, if the ark drew even as much as twenty feet of water, the level of the inundation fell very slowly – at a rate of only a few inches a day – until the top of the mountain on which it rested became visible. This is an amount of movement which, if it took place in the sea, would be overlooked by ordinary people on the shore. But the Mesopotamian plain slopes gently, from an elevation of 500 or 600 feet at its northern end, to the sea, at its southern end, with hardly so much as a notable ridge to break its uniform flatness, for 300 to 400 miles. These being the conditions of the case, the following inquiry naturally presents itself: not, be it observed, as a recondite problem, generated by modern speculation, but as a plain suggestion flowing out of that very ordinary and archaic piece of knowledge that water cannot be piled up like in a heap, like sand; or that it seeks the lowest level. When, after 150 days, "the fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained", what prevented the mass of water, several, possibly very many, fathoms deep, which covered, say, the present site of Baghdad, from sweeping seaward in a furious torrent; and, in a very few hours, leaving, not only the "tops of the mountains," but the whole plain, save any minor depressions, bare? How could its subsistence, by any possibility, be an affair of weeks and months?

And if this difficulty is not enough, let any one try to imagine how a mass of water several perhaps very many, fathoms deep, could be accumulated on a flat surface of land rising well above the sea, and separated from it by no sort of barrier. Would it not be an absurd contradiction to our common knowledge of the properties of water to imagine that, if all the mains of all the waterworks of London were turned on to it, they could maintain a heap of water twenty feet deep over its level surface? Is it not obvious that the water, whatever momentary accumulation might take place at first, would not stop there, but that it would dash, like a mighty mill-race, southwards down the gentle slope which ends in the Thames? And is it not further obvious, that whatever depth of water might be maintained over the cricket-ground so long as all the mains poured on to it, anything which floated there would be speedily whirled away by the current, like a cork in a gutter when the rain pours? But if this is so, then it is no less certain that Noah’s deeply laden, sail less, oar less, and rudderless craft, if by good fortune it escaped capsizing in whirlpools, or having it bottom knocked into holes by snags, would have speedily found itself a good way down the Persian Gulf, and not long after in the Indian Ocean, somewhere between Arabia and Hindustan. Even if, eventually, the ark might have gone ashore, with other jetsam and flotsam, on the coasts of Arabia, or of Hindustan, or of the Maldives, or of Madagascar, its return to the "mountains of Ararat" would have been a miracle more stupendous than all the rest.

Thus, the last state of the would-be reconcilers of the story of the Deluge with fact is worse than the first. All that they have done is to transfer the contradictions to established truth from the region of science proper to that of common information and common sense. For, really, the assertion that the surface of a body of deep water, to which no addition was made, and which there was nothing to stop from running into the sea, sank at the rate of only a few inches or even feet a day, simply outrages the most ordinary and familiar teachings of ever man’s daily experience. A child may see the folly of it.

Looking at the convergence of all these lines of evidence to the one conclusion – that the story of the Flood in Genesis is merely a version of one of the oldest pieces of purely fictitious literature extant; that whether this is, or is not, its origin, the events asserted in it to have taken place, assuredly never did take place.

Now, not only do I hold it to be proven that the story of the Deluge is a pure fiction; but I have no hesitation in affirming the same thing of the story of the Creation. Between these two lies the story of the creation of man and woman and their fall from primitive innocence, which is even more monstrously improbable than either of the other two, though, from the nature of the case, it is not so easily capable of direct refutation. It can be demonstrated that the earth took longer than six days in the making, and that the Deluge, as described, is a physical impossibility."

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