Professor Huxley Versus Genesis 1 -- By: Charles B. Warring
BSac 49:196 (Oct 1892) p. 638
Professor Huxley Versus Genesis 1
SOME twenty years ago, Professor Huxley said “the students of nature will no longer trouble themselves with these theologies,” referring to the narratives found in Genesis. The prophecy remains unfulfilled, for every little while we have proof that “these theologies” still cause some students of science a good deal of trouble. That which gives the most, if one may judge by the number of attacks which have been made upon it, is the Story of Creation given in the first chapter of the book. Professor Huxley has tried his great powers of argument and sarcasm on it, I do not know how many times. His most notable assault was made a few years ago in the Nineteenth Century, based on an alleged fatal disagreement between the order of life as laid down in Genesis, and the true order as revealed by geology. In that article he states a number of facts as to the order in which various creatures made their first appearance upon our globe, all of which are very true, but which, it is no disparagement to say, add nothing to the knowledge of any one who has given a moderate degree of attention to any of the excellent manuals of geology which have appeared during the last few decades.
I must confess to a feeling of disappointment in regard to his treatment of the account which he criticises. It was not too much to expect of one trained to original research, accustomed to give little weight to authority, and priding himself upon his devotion to truth irrespective of consequen-
BSac 49:196 (Oct 1892) p. 639
ces, that he should cut loose from traditional beliefs, and see for himself just what that chapter says. It may seem very magnanimous in him to admit what its defenders and friends say it means, perhaps it was intended to be magnanimous, but one can hardly avoid the suspicion that it was only the policy of the chess player who gives away a castle to win a queen.
“Yes,” he says, “I will grant the interpreters of Genesis almost anything, but one fact they must admit; there is in this account one central idea which cannot be explained away, and by which it must stand or fall. It teaches that the animal species which compose the water population, the air population, and the land population, originated in four distinct and successive periods of time, and only during those periods.” Or, if I may put the same idea in another form, Professor Huxley asserts that Genesis teaches that there were no land animals before cattle, no flying creatures before birds, no water creatures before “great whales,” and I may add, no plants before “grass, herbs and fruit trees.”
That this is the Genesis of tradition cannot be successfully disputed, but wh...
Click here to subscribe