New York Times Reviews

"Prof. Huxley's Lecture"
New York Times (September 17, 1876)

That Prof. Huxley will be heartily welcomed on Monday evening there can be no doubt. He is not merely a brilliant lecturer, clear in statement, often eloquent in expression, ardent and aggressive in his positions, but a patient student of science, who by hard labor has won a high rank as an original investigator. If the statements to which he is sometimes led by the natural ardor of his temperament are beyond the severe limits prescribed by sober science, this none the less interests a popular audience. Nor will there be opposed to him here the prejudice which would meet him in many English lecture-rooms. The religious mind of our people is becoming gradually convinced that Darwinism is in no way opposed to Theism. However skeptics may employ the theory, it is evident that it is perfectly consistent with the belief in divine creation. The Creator can certainly work as easily through a long series of links in "development" as by one direct act. Indeed, to many devout minds the hypothesis of creation through evolution is more harmonious to the conception of an Infinite Being than any other. Moreover, it is seen more clearly that science has little to do with a first cause, but mainly with second causes, and in this field Prof. Huxley has been pre-eminent as an investigator. What he may say will be received with respectful attention, and it is devoutly to be hoped that the natural pugnacity of his disposition will not lead him to overstate his position where it has been bitterly assailed.

Our readers are not to suppose that the subject of evolution is a peculiarly abstract or difficult one. The evidence is, indeed, very difficult to obtain, and is gathered in exceedingly minute quantities from very diverse fields of nature. But the hypothesis is simple, and in its very simplicity lies its greatness. The obstacle to the "lay student" appreciating it is that the weight of the evidence is of a "scientific" nature: that is, a very broad inference is made from a great number of small data, repeated through almost indefinite time, and from every kingdom of life. Each particular fact does not prove a great deal, but a repetition and variety of them through every department of nature gradually justifies an inference of broad scope. The conclusion is not absolute; it has not the weight of a mathematical or even moral conclusion; it is made simply from a balance of probabilities, and then only assumes the character of an hypothesis.

The efforts of such men as Prof. Huxley and Dr. Gray, of this country, are to show each in their own field, that the facts of their science suit this particular hypothesis, and that no other theory covers or explains them so well. No reasonable being can talk of Darwinism as an absolute truth. It is simply an hypothesis, and the duty of Prof. Huxley is only to show how far it is a "working" hypothesis. Without venturing to suggest any line of remarks to this distinguished savant, we could wish that he might find an opportunity in one of his lectures to meet some of the weightier arguments against the Darwinian theory which even Darwin himself has not yet much considered, though, no doubt, ready frankly to admit their importance. The very ground-work of the theory is "sufficient time." Favorable variations acted upon by natural selection through millions of ages finally produce new varieties, then species, then genera, and at last new kingdoms or forms of life. The great element necessary is time. When the objection is offered that (omitting technical language) highly organized forms of life are found in the most ancient strata, the reply is at once made by the Darwinian, and will no doubt be made by Mr. Huxley, that back of the oldest strata of rock were deposits now destroyed or covered up, made during almost a past eternity, or at least during millions of ages, and within that period the earliest and simplest forms of life appeared.

Again, when it is urged against the evolutionist, that during enormous periods of time, we see no development in a given organism, or but the slightest change, the reply is still made that we must go back to the limitless period beyond, where there is time for any evolution. In some degree, it is a response ad ignotum. We know nothing of the "past eternity," and cannot answer. Now, however, appear very important conclusions in what may be called geological dynamics, by such distinguished authorities as Sir W. Thompson, Prof. Tait, and Mr. Croll, showing from data which we have not space to give here that the age of the world cannot be beyond ten or eleven millions of years. Mr. Darwin and Sir C. Lyell have estimated from two hundred and forty to three hundred millions as the probable age of the world. Would ten millions be enough for this hypothesis? Then, again, we should be glad to have Prof. Huxley address himself to such an argument as proving the formation of an organ like the eye under natural selection. Mr. Darwin has attempted it with his usual candor, but it cannot be said that the effort is thoroughly convincing. In his own field, Mr. Huxley might present us with instances of permanent hybrids; or he might explain why the most ancient human skulls are, on the whole, (for we put the "Neanderthal" skull on one side as exceptional,) of an advanced type–somewhat superior to the lowest human type now. It would be interesting to hear from him also why we discover so many fossil remains of the primates, but never of the "missing link," and how Mr. Wallace's objection as to the difficulty under natural selection, of forming a hairless being, is met. These latter objections, we admit, are not very weighty, but their explanation or answer would be interesting from so distinguished a naturalist. Mr. Huxley's new points of evidence will undoubtedly be obtained from Prof. Marsh's unrivaled collection of fossil animals recently made from tertiary deposits of the Far West. His reasoning on these will be both novel and valuable.

"Prof. Huxley's first lecture"
New York Times (September 19, 1876)

Prof. Huxley's first lecture in New York drew to Chickering Hall last evening a large and most intelligent audience. Every seat in the room was occupied, and many persons remained standing patiently throughout the lecture. It is needless to say that the lecture was highly interesting. As a speaker, Prof. Huxley is of very different type to his distinguished co-laborer in the cause of science, Prof. Tyndall. He is less energetic in manner, has a voice much inferior in clearness and volume, shows less feeling, and makes no such demands on the sympathy of his hearers. He is, moreover, so far as his effort of last evening shows, comparatively indifferent to the imaginative and poetic side of his subject, and made very few "points" for applause. He devoted himself to defining the three hypotheses, on one or the other of which the order of origination of nature is to be explained, and to an argument showing why what we know from the stratified rocks is inconsistent with the hypothesis held by Hutton, and at one time by Lyell, that nature has always been substantially what it now is, and with what he termed the Miltonic hypothesis that nature originated in a certain order in six days or periods. While simple and severe in style, Prof. Huxley's lecture was in a very lively sense controversial, and the parts which elicited applause were those in which he gave his opponents a series of keen, and even vicious, thrusts, which were not the less effective, so far as the audience was concerned, for being wholly side thrusts. In his remaining lectures, Prof. Huxley will undertake a demonstration of the essential truth of the hypothesis of evolution.

"The Theory of Evolution"
"Prof. Huxley's First Lecture"
New York Times (September 19, 1876)

A large and cultured audience present–The lecturer's method–The hypothesis of the Creation of the World–Milton's view incapable of proof–The evidence of evolution discussed.

The first of Prof. Huxley's series of lectures on the "Theory of Evolution" attracted an audience in Chickering Hall last evening which filled it. The lecturer seemed to have a proper appreciation of the value of punctuality, but some of his auditors were less alive to its worth. There were late comers, whose fuss and disturbance prevented the opening of his discourse being heard, and a few rude demands that he should speak louder were peremptorily uttered when a rebuke to the disturbers of the quiet to which a public lecturer is entitled would have been much more fitting. Prof. Huxley's method is slow, precise, and clear, and he guards the positions which he takes with astuteness and ability. He does not utter anything in the reckless fashion which conviction sometimes countenances and excuses, but rather with the deliberation which research and close inquiry foster. He is seemingly very modest in declining to meddle with matters outside of his sphere, but he has a Ciceronian way of saying that he will not denounce such and such an hypothesis, when the very negation implies that it ought in his opinion to be denounced. Under the aspect of calm judicial solemnity Prof. Huxley is a brilliant advocate. His lecture of last evening only prepared the way for the subject which he proposes to elucidate, "The Direct Evidence of Evolution." He managed, however, in a brief space to dispose of two other hypotheses, the controversion of which, if the controversion is satisfactory, would clear the way to the theory which he desires to establish. The first hypothesis with which he dealt was that the present order of things has always obtained, and he argued that whether such an hypothesis were true or false, it was incapable of proof because it would require an eternity of evidence to sustain it. The second was that the earth and the present order of things had a sudden existence such as is described in Genesis, and on this point he was particular not to run counter to the Biblical account of the creation, but performed the feat as effectually by disguising that history in the garb of the Miltonic theory, fortifying his position with a quotation from the seventh book of Paradise Lost. Describing his second hypothesis as the Miltonic theory, his conclusion was that it was utterly incompatible with circumstantial evidence. The circumstantial evidence consists of the indications of animal life in myriads of years past, as shown in the earth's rocky strata, which were presented in a diagram. The third hypothesis, or that of evolution, he proposes to deal with in his coming lectures. He indicated last evening that there are three kinds of evidence on this subject–one which is neutral, another which is probable and which does not carry proof with it, and a third, which, being as complete as any evidence that we can hope to obtain on this subject, is entirely in favor of evolution. Prof. Huxley was listened to with profound attention by his audience, which included the following: Rev. Dr. Deems, Dr. Armitage, Dr. Barker, E. W. Stoughton, Ira Chamberlain, Gen. Newton, Rev. Mr. Wilde, of Christ Church, Riverdale; Rev. Dr. Farley, of Brooklyn; Dr. Andrew Ayres, of Brooklyn; Dr. J. S. Prout, of Brooklyn; Mr. Manning, W. W. Appleton, W. H. Appleton and family, George S. Appleton, Prof. R. N. Youmans, Dr. J. Youmans, J. C. Derby, W. H. Pars, Prof. Marsh, of New Haven; David Austin, Dr. McDonnell, and many others. The following is the lecture in full.

The Lecture.

"Ladies and Gentlemen: We live and form a part of a system of immense diversity, which we call nature, and it is a matter of the deepest interest to all of us that we should form a just conception of the constitution of that system and of its past history. [...] But these matters, ladies and gentlemen, I propose to deal with in the course of the next two lectures. [Loud applause]."

"Prof. Huxley's Second Lecture"
New York Times (September 21, 1876)

The lecturer closely listened to by a large audience–Cuvier's argument against evolution discussed–Darwin's labors–Variations in forms of animal life–How animal remains disappear.

The audience which listened to the second of Prof. Huxley's series of lectures on the evolution theory, at Chickering Hall last evening, was a large one, and comfortably filled the auditorium and gallery. Not a vacant seat was visible anywhere within the hall. Besides being large in numbers, the audience was also very appreciative, and the best token of this was to be seen in the careful attention shown by the auditors and the earnestness with which they seemed to follow the speaker's train of thought. There was some slight applause as Prof. Huxley stepped forward on the platform, and this expression of approbation was twice repeated, the last repetition being when the lecturer concluded his remarks.

The lecture was rather a difficult one to follow in thought, and imposed a constant strain on the attention of the auditors during the seventy-five minutes of its delivery. Prof. Huxley began by referring to some of the points which have been raised in opposition to the evolution theory. The first was the one on which Cuvier rashly, as the lecturer thought, had concluded that there had been no change in animal forms. But the existence of persistent types, Prof. Huxley showed, does not militate against the theory. Darwin's labors have shown that there are two great factors in the process of evolution. The first of these is a tendency to vary, the existence of which may be proved by observations on living forms. The second is the influence of surrounding conditions upon the parent form, so to speak, producing variations. Whether the variations are to continue and to supplant the parent form, or whether the latter is to continue, is a matter depending on circumstances. One or the other thing will happen according as the surrounding circumstances are favorable to the one or the other. In the one case there will be no advance of type; in the other there will be varieties and change of form. The lecturer then passed on to speak of lizards, which can be traced to the Permian epoch without showing any change of form. After the Permian epoch, however, they disappear. This would seem to be fatal to the theory which supposes that types came from other types resembling them. But the admitted imperfections and breaks of the geological record must be taken into account, and we must not conclude that there were no animals at a certain time simply because no animal remains have been found in the strata appertaining to that period. How such remains could disappear was then shown by the lecturer. He then went on to consider those cases, not demonstrative of the truth of the evolution theory, but such as must exist if evolution be true. The prominent one of these was that of a regular gradation or succession in nature. Here Prof. Huxley went into an examination of "missing links" or intermediate forms between the groups in the animal kingdom, and more especially the link between the pig family and the ruminants, and between birds and reptiles. [...]

The Lecture.

"Ladies and Gentlemen: In my lecture on Monday night, I pointed out to you that there are three hypotheses which may be entertained and which have been entertained, in respect to the past history of life upon the globe. [...]

I do not think, ladies and gentlemen, that I need insist upon the value of evidence of this kind. You will observe that, though it does not prove that birds have originated from reptiles by the gradual modification of the ordinary reptile into a dinosaurian form, and so into a bird, yet it does show that that process may possibly have taken place; and it does show that there existed in former times creatures which filled up one of the largest gaps in existing animated nature, and that was exactly the kind of evidence which I stated to you at starting we are bound to meet with in the rocks, if the hypothesis of evolution be correct.

In my next lecture I will take up what I venture to call the demonstrative evidence of evolution. [Loud applause.]"

"The Reportorial Hypothesis"
New York Times (September 22, 1876)

It is painful to see that the opponents of the theory of evolution are attacking Prof. Huxley for certain assertions which are gratuitously attributed to him, and are assumed to form part of a course of lectures which he is alleged to be now engaged in delivering. These critics have made a grave mistake in selecting the object of their attack. In the first place, no mathematical evidence has yet been presented which proves that the hypothetical Huxley ever existed. There is a similar lack of conclusive proof that, even if he does exist, he ever wrote the lectures attributed to him. And finally the lectures in question have been so differently interpreted by his friends and opponents that a disinterested person can only stand up and admire the wonderful flexibility of the language which admits of such diverse interpretations.

The truth is, we owe the theories popularly ascribed to the alleged, and probably purely mythical Huxley, to certain reporters who furnished them to the newspapers in which they were originally published. Whether Prof. Huxley is a myth or an actual scientific person; whether he ever wrote any lectures whatever, and whether the lectures generally attributed to him favor or oppose the theory of evolution, the opponents of that doctrine are not called upon to say. In the face of the many contradictory assertions in relation to these matters, they should abstain from giving any opinion. Happily, the reporters leave us in no ambiguity as to what they mean, and we can applaud or attack their assertions without giving pain to those whose early education has given them a sincere faith in the existence and alleged assertions of Huxley, and without exposing ourselves to the charge of trying to overthrow that faith by scientific argument and subtle sarcasm.

The reportorial hypothesis that all forms of animal life that exist or have existed on the earth are the results of a slow process of development, which has evolved from primary protoplasm beings so widely differing from one another as scientific persons and Tasmanian devils was set forth in yesterday's Times at much length and with undoubted ability. It must not be forgotten, however, that a reporter is frequently an imaginative person, a prose-poet who writes the epic of every-day life, and who cannot be supposed to speak with the infallible accuracy of an alleged scientific person, such as the so-called Huxley is popularly supposed to be. We may, therefore, be excused for declining to accept his assertions as so many scientific axioms, and can even, without irreverence, call them mere poetic fictions. It is conceded by the able advocate of the reportorial hypothesis whose pleasing arguments occupied so many columns of Thursday's Times, that there is just at present a lack of any animals which can be properly termed intermediate links between any two zoological groups. At first sight this may seem to militate against the reportorial theory of evolution. Indeed there is no question that if an evolutionist could at any time go out into the back yard and bring in a pig that had clothed itself with feathers, or in any other way showed its intention of becoming a connecting link between pigs and birds, it would be extremely satisfactory. Still the learned reporter holds that the lack of a partially-developed pig-bird is no real argument against the hypothesis of evolution. Pigs do not become birds, and twitter sweetly in the forest trees in a single day. Millions of years are required for a pig to develop a beak or to clothe his tail with brilliant feathers. It is essential to the acceptance of the theory of evolution that we should give the pigs time enough to accomplish their transformation into birds. The reportorial hypothesis, therefore, gives an immense and virtually incalculable age to the earth, and claims that, although we cannot find any evidence of changes in living types of animals, such changes have occurred in the slow lapse of ages, and that we can find evidence of them among the fossils that fill the geological strata.

Geology, or rather palæontology–a word with seven excellent and satisfactory syllables–is thus a great comfort to the evolutionists. The learned reporter claims to have found in the mesozoic rocks–which, as everybody knows, are worthy of implicit confidence–some of the most delightful lizards that the scientific heart could desire. Among these is the pterodactyl, an archaic–though clearly not trochaic–construction of bird and lizard. The pterodactyl had more ischiums and iliums, and other anatomical ornaments, than would satisfy half a dozen modern lizards, or an equal quantity of modern birds. It had the legs and arms of a crocodile, the wings of a bat, and the head of a bird, filled up with an elaborate set of teeth. When he wanted to play at devouring Hindoo babies in the Ganges, he would assume the manners and customs of the crocodile. When he felt that he would like to be a bird, he would stretch his wings and fly to the top of a mesozoic tree, where he would sing in tones that greatly promoted the rapid formation of fossils among other animals; and when he chose to consider himself in the light of a blithe and careless kangaroo, he would walk on his hind legs, to the wonder and admiration of the genial dinosaurs and the dignified megalosaurus. Thus the pterodactyl was to a certain extent a connecting link between reptiles and birds, and if he had lived long enough he would undoubtedly have fully developed into one or the other style of animals.

Lest thinking men should be carried away by the splendid poetry with which the reporter described this accomplished and versatile beast, it should be pointed out that however excellent the intentions of the pterodactyl in the direction of development may have been, he did not have long enough to accomplish them. He may, perhaps, be regarded as an intermediate link, but as he failed to extend him completely from the lizard to the bird, he was thus that extremely useless thing an isolated link that did not connect to anything. Hence, the great comfort that the enthusiastic reporter takes in the pterodactyl does not seem to be entirely justified, and the utmost that can be said in favor of the latter is that he did succeed in developing himself from a crocodile to a pterodactyl, and in order that even this degree of development should have taken place, the reporter is compelled to assume that incalculable ages were required.

Now, the weak point in the reportorial hypothesis is this very claim of an enormous age for the earth; and this claim, we are told, is supported by geology. But astronomy, which is a science quite as respectable and trustworthy as geology, flatly asserts that the earth is far younger than geology alleges. Hence, the advocate of the reportorial theory is placed in a dilemma. Either he must admit that astronomy tells the truth, and thus concede that geology is guilty of falsehood in saying that the earth has been in existence long enough for men to evolve themselves from protoplasm, or he must attack the veracity of astronomy. But the man who charges astronomy with falsehood strikes a blow at all science. If we cannot trust astronomy, why should we trust geology? If we cannot implicitly believe geology, why would we believe the conclusions which a learned reporter draws from it in support of his hypothesis of evolution? If those men bring proof that the alleged Huxley existed, there would be an opportunity for him to rise up and explain. As it is, we have only to do with an imaginative, and at the same time extremely dogmatic, reporter, and we can only "stand up and admire the marvelous flexibility" of the reporter who can assert the infallibility of science at the very time when he bases his most cherished hypothesis on the assumption that astronomy is ignorant and mendacious.

"Prof. Huxley's Final Lecture"
New York Times (September 23, 1876)

Demonstrative evidence in favor of the evolution theory–Similarities between man and the horse–The chain of equine types–The evolution hypothesis not vitiated by Astronomy.

Prof. Huxley's third and final lecture was delivered last night at Chickering Hall, in the presence of one of the largest and most brilliant audiences which has yet greeted him in this country. The subject matter of his discourse was the "demonstrative" evidence in favor of the evolution theory, and consisted mainly of a description of the process by which the existing horse is to be traced back, step by step, to a lower form, which, in respect to its arms, hands, and teeth very nearly resembles that division of the mammals to which man belongs. In the first place the Professor exhibited to his audience a skeleton fore-leg and portions of bones of one of the hind legs of a horse of the present day, and pointed out the particulars in which they tallied with the different bones of the human arm and leg. The knee-joint of the horse corresponds with the wrist of the human hand, and the hoof is in reality a middle finger, broadened and extended. The peculiarities of the horse's teeth were also dwelt upon. By means of a diagram at the rear of the stage, the Professor next led his audience back with him through the chain of different equine types, beginning with the existing horse, and ending with the newly discovered specimens of Prof. Marsh, on which the hoof consists of four separate fingers, as in the hand of man. The lecturer added that in all probability, when the geological formation of the great North-west could be thoroughly examined, a still more ancient species will be found, with a fifth finger or thumb on the forehoof, and thus complete the series. Enough, however, had been discovered to demonstrate the truth of the evolution hypothesis–a truth which could not be shaken by the raising of side issues. The differences of opinion between the astronomers and geologists concerning the lapse of time during which these changes must have taken place could not be held to vitiate the theory. As to the only other imaginable hypothesis–that all these connected forms had come into existence at different times and by special creation–it was sufficient to say that not a particle of evidence of any kind had been adduced in its favor, while on the other hand, the truth of evolution was based upon precisely the same species of evidence as the Copernican theory of the movement of the sun and planets. The orator concluded with a graceful tribute to the kindness of his reception and the close attention which had been paid to him throughout, an acknowledgment which was received with loud and prolonged applause. Prof. Huxley sails for Europe to-day.

The Lecture.

"Ladies and gentlemen: In my last lecture I had occasion to place before you evidence derived from fossil remains, which, as I stated, was perfectly consistent with the doctrine of evolution, was favorable to it, but could not be regarded as the highest kind of evidence–that sort of evidence we call demonstrative. [...]

My purpose and object have been, not to enable those of you who have not paid attention to these subjects before, to leave this room in a condition qualified to decide upon the validity or the invalidity of the hypothesis of evolution; but to put before you what appeared to me to be the principles by which all such hypotheses must be judged, and furthermore to make apparent to you the nature of the evidence and the sort of cogency which is to be effected and may be obtained from it; and to this end I have not hesitated–regarding you as genuine students, and persons desirous of knowing the truth–I have not hesitated to take you through arguments, long chains of arguments, that I fear may have sometimes tried your patience, or to inflict upon you details which could not possibly be escaped but which may well have been wearisome; but I shall rejoice, I shall consider that I have done you the greatest service which it was in my power in such a way to do, if I have thus convinced you that this great question which we are discussing is not one to be discussed, to be dealt with by rhetorical flourishes or by loose talk, but that it requires the keenest attention of the trained intellect and the patience of the most accurate observer. [Applause.] I did not, when I commenced in a series of lectures, think it necessary to preface them with a prologue such as might be expected from a stranger and a foreigner, for during my brief stay in your country I have found it very hard to believe that a stranger could be possessed of so many friends, and almost harder to imagine that a foreigner could express himself in your language in such a way as to be so readily intelligible, to all appearance, [laughter,] for so far as I can judge that most intelligent and perhaps I may add, most singularly active and enterprising body of persons, your press reporters, do not seem to have been deferred by my accent from giving the fullest account of anything that I happen to have said. [Laughter.] But the vessel in which I take my departure to-morrow morning is even now ready to slip her moorings. I wake from my delusion that I am other than a stranger and a foreigner. I am ready to go back to my own pleasant country; but before doing so let me, by way of epilogue, tender you my most hearty thanks for the most kind and cordial reception which you have accorded to me, and let me thank you still more for that which is the highest compliment which can be accorded to any person in my position, and that is the continuous and undisturbed attention which you have been good enough to bestow upon the long argument which I have had the honor of laying before you. [Hearty applause] "

"Prof. Huxley's Lectures"
New York Times (September 24, 1876)

As an argument for evolution to one disbelieving it, Mr. Huxley's lectures cannot be considered very convincing. The mainspring of the whole theory, it should be remembered, is not original with Mr. Huxley. It was discovered or invented by another. His statements are only an application of Mr. Darwin's theory of natural selection to certain classes of fossil animals. Mr. Huxley speaks of "evolution" as though it was an hypothesis ancient in form and resting on many bases of proof. It is true that the theory is very old, and has been urged and re-urged in every age. La Marck presented it more strongly than the English Professor, and the unknown author of theVestiges of Creation gave a vivid and striking form to it. But all these presentations were the merest fancies of baseless theories–like Lucretius' atom-theories–until Mr. Darwin's laboriously-worked principle of natural selection was introduced. Mr. Huxley himself stands on the baseless fabric of a fancy or a dream in his "evolution," till he has the scientific foundation of the law of natural selection. It seemed to us that he hardly acknowledged this sufficiently. One might have almost concluded from his lectures that evolution rested on facts in anatomy and structure which he had gathered from fossil animals. The truth is, those facts are of little value, and his broad generalizations of slight importance, without the great discovery of the age, the action of inheritance and variation in modifying fixed forms of life and the final survival of the fittest.

Whatever of real science lies beneath the theory of evolution is furnished by Darwin. Mr. Huxley's province was especially to allow the application of the Darwinian theory to the facts discovered in the world of fossil animals. He could furnish nothing new but this to the discussion. In this view his discussion of the Biblical account of the creation was unnecessary, and certainly in its method superficial. The exact meaning of that cosmogony is, of course, the first question to consider, and this difficult field Mr. Huxley did not attempt to touch upon. He held up alone for the object of his criticism the popular interpretation of that account, which would be as fair as attacking evolution through La Marck or in the Greek theories. Mr. Huxley is sufficiently aware that even so acute a savant as Prof. Dana has traced a striking general coincidence between the Mosaic narrative and modern theories, and Biblical scholars have changed many of our former interpretations of these records. The great objection as to the order of creation is often met by them as the Professor met the objections to evolution–by "the imperfection of the geological record." This refuge is surely as good for one side when in difficulties as for the other.

But, leaving these hypotheses of origin aside, as not in the strict field of science, Mr. Huxley was bound to meet the weighty objections which have been lately urged to his theory, and some of those which present themselves continually to all intelligent persons. The mathematical objections–derived from the rate of the earth's cooling, its shape, and other sources–made by the first living mathematicians and investigators, such as Sir. W. Thompson, Prof. Tate, and Mr. Croll, all diminishing the period of the earth's existence in its present conditions to ten and eleven millions of years, are such as require the most careful weighing and answer. Ten millions of years, according to most schools of geology, would carry the world back to the time when many highly-organized forms of life existed, to form which under evolution millions of ages beyond were necessary. It will not do to doubt the evidence, for, so far as we know, it is even more exact than that derived from the fossiliferous rocks.

Nor will it be a satisfactory answer to reply, as Mr. Huxley did last evening, that "the question of time belongs to the physicist or geologist–not to the biologist;" that "evolution may occur in any period of duration." If a highly-organized form of life be found in strata which are reckoned by geologists at ten millions of years in age, and the world, according to physicists, has only been in such a condition as to support life for that period, it is obvious that here is a fact which is opposed to evolution, and which evolution does not explain. So, again, if the earlier member of a group be of the higher type, and we have no geological antiquity beyond, here is another fact inconsistent with the theory. The evolutionist must take time in his reckonings. This difficulty certainly has not been fully met by the Professor.

Then the want of hybrid, or of connecting forms in living species, are capital facts, which have to be dealt with by the evolutionist. The absence of all link between man and the simiæ in fossil remains, the high character of the skulls of the oldest human relics, the difficulty of obtaining the survival of a hairless creature under natural selection, the obstinate difficulty now in crossing even related varieties, and the fact that no authentic instance is afforded among animals, of a new species arising from hybrids, all are objections which have not yet been fairly met, and which it cannot be said that the English Professor has fully answered. Even the evidence so skillfully presented of the line of descent of the horse, only proves development in one family of animals, but proves nothing as to the mingling of different kingdoms of life. For Mr. Huxley to speak of the evidence for evolution as being on a par with that for the Copernican theory only shows how far theory will lead a clear brain. Evolution may be a true hypothesis, but the verdict thus far, so far as Mr. Huxley's argument goes, must be "not proven."

"Prof. Huxley and the Bible"
New York Times (October 1, 1876)

To many minds, Prof. Huxley's tone in regard to the Biblical account of the creation, and his arguments against it, in his recent lectures have seemed subversive of religious faith. We believe, on the other hand, to sound Biblical scholars, even when thoroughly imbued with modern science, this narrative offers no difficulties, and, on the contrary, strengthens faith. A cosmogony cannot in the nature of things be what Mr. Huxley called "testimonial evidence." Moses or whoever was the author of the first two chapters of Genesis, was not present at the occurrence of the events he describes. He merely gives broad pictures or visions of certain great changes in the present order of things.

If our readers will compare any other cosmogony of the Semitic tribes, or will take up those of the Aryan, the Hindoo, or the Persian race, or those believed in by the half-civilized nations of this continent, he will see the immeasurable superiority of the Jewish account. Opposed to the notion of accident or chance among the Greeks, or that of the eternity of matter so common in the Orient, or the superstitions of many gods and struggling spirits, the Hebrew narrative gives us the sublime truth of the whole present order of things having sprung from an intelligent and supreme will. The date of the first creation it leaves behind in an immeasurable past. It only finds in the beginning chaos, and the first germ of the organic or inorganic world called forth by a Supreme Force. This certainly is in harmony with the very latest researches of science, and is at the basis of whatever may be called religion in the world. So long as man believes in an order of things which did not come by chance or accident, but which derived its forces from the original and intelligent Force, he is no longer a materialist, but is bound by unseen ties to the world invisible. This grand truth the Hebrew record teaches above all others, and with a simplicity and dignity unsurpassed in the religious traditions of any other race. The philosopher believing this has an anchor against all tides of skepticism. If the Bible had transmitted no other truth but this to mankind, it would deserve eternal reverence.

The remaining visions or pictures in the narrative of Moses are obviously not intended to be translated literally. They are extremely dramatic and poetic in form, though of severe simplicity. Mr. Huxley sneers at the various interpretations, and especially of the word "day." But it is in the nature of such poetic narratives or visions that they should be susceptible of broad differences of rendering. No scholar need be told that the word "day" changes in all languages according to the context. Certainly the interpretations of even such vague terms as poetic expressions are not half so varied as of what are supposed to be the definite facts in geology. Exegesis has quite as firm a foundation as reasoning from fossiliferous strata. The "testimony of the rocks" changes under each interpreter even more than the testimony of Scripture.

There is nothing in any reasonable interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis to prevent accepting the doctrine of evolution, for the Divine Creator can as easily work through links of inheritance and variation as by direct and special acts of creation. Creation, if it originated "three or four kingdoms of life," as Darwin expresses it, would be as truly creation as if every germ in each individual were specially made. The language of a poetic cosmogony must of necessity be the language of appearances. Human vocabulary has no terms or even power of comprehension for the evolving of things from nothing for Creation.

As to the sequence of creation or appearance of different orders of living things, it is doubtful if Mr. Huxley himself is thus far in a condition to affirm or deny, and certainly the interpretation of the Hebrew record is equally doubtful with the conclusions of geology. What Mr. Huxley called "great whales" may mean many other monsters of sea or land, and as he himself has fallen back on "the imperfection of the geological record" to explain obvious gaps in the evidence, the Biblical scholar may do the same. When Mr. Huxley has explained the existence of the Eozoon in the Laurentian, or of trilobites in ancient formations, or of other forms of life quite out of the range where, under evolution, they should have appeared, the Biblical scholar may explain the Mosaic order of creation. The sequence, in broad, seems harmonious with modern theories: First, matter without order; then light, then aggregation into systems, then the lowest vegetable and animal life, then higher orders of life, and finally man. Still, the devout and consistent believer in the Scriptures will not look for or expect exact scientific accuracy in a narrative whose obvious purpose is to establish divine creation as opposed to chance, or to the idea of opposing spirits, or to the belief in the eternity of matter.

The "Miltonic interpretation" of the record was that of an age which knew little or nothing of modern science. Just as the views of scholars in regard to the chronology of the world have changed, or in regard to the antiquity of the rocks, or the astronomy of the universe, and in like manner, the interpretation of the Bible, yet without affecting its spiritual authority, so the belief in the mode and sequences of creation may change, and yet the Bible narrative be found consistent and its great religious value undiminished.



C. Blinderman & D. Joyce
Clark University