Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Huxley-Wilberforce Debate

This was a legendary debate that took place just seven months after Darwin published the Origin of Species. "Darwin's Bulldog" T. H. Huxley defended evolution against the smears of Samuel Wilberforce. It ended with Wilberforce going for a rhetorical win by asking Huxley whether he claimed ape ancestry on his grandmother's side or his grandfather's. Huxley responded that he'd rather be descended from a poor chattering monkey than a man of great intellect who misused it to obscure the truth. Boom. Science vs. religion, and science wins again.

Except the debate may have been legendary in more than one sense. The philosopher J. R. Lucas published an interesting essay on this: "Wilberforce and Huxley: A Legendary Encounter". Read the whole thing.

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