Thursday, December 26, 2013


A Kind of Lie

Thomas Huxley, 1860:

Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.

Thomas Huxley, 1868:

Choose your hypothesis; I have chosen mine. I can find no warranty for believing in the distinct creation of a score of successive species of crocodiles in the course of countless ages of time. Science gives no countenance to such a wild fancy;


  1. Wikipedia regarding Huxley:

    One effect of the debate was to increase hugely Huxley's visibility amongst educated people, through the accounts in newspapers and periodicals. Another consequence was to alert him to the importance of public debate: a lesson he never forgot. A third effect was to serve notice that Darwinian ideas could not be easily dismissed: on the contrary, they would be vigorously defended against orthodox authority.[58][59] A fourth effect was to promote professionalism in science, with its implied need for scientific education. A fifth consequence was indirect: as Wilberforce had feared, a defence of evolution did undermine literal belief in the Old Testament, especially the Book of Genesis. Many of the liberal clergy at the meeting were quite pleased with the outcome of the debate; they were supporters, perhaps, of the controversial Essays and Reviews. Thus both on the side of science, and on the side of religion, the debate was important, and its outcome significant.

    Wikipedia regarding Wilberforce:

    Lucas argues that "Wilberforce, contrary to the central tenet of the legend, did not prejudge the issue".[2] He criticised Darwin's theory on scientific grounds, arguing that it was not supported by the facts, and he noted that the greatest names in science were opposed to the theory.[2] Nonetheless, Wilberforce's speech is generally only remembered today for his inquiry as to whether it was through his grandmother or his grandfather that Huxley considered himself descended from a monkey. Thomas Huxley is said to have replied that he would not be ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor, but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used his great gifts to obscure the truth. Darwin was not present, but several of his friends replied, with Huxley perhaps the most effective. The general view was and still is that Huxley had got the better of the exchange but there are dissenting voices[2] and Wilberforce himself thought he had done well. 'Reports from the time suggest that everybody enjoyed himself immensely, and all went cheerfully off to dinner together afterwards.'.[6] As a son of William Wilberforce he was deeply concerned about the ethical consequences of what we now call Social Darwinism.

    In brief: Huxley not ashamed of having a monkey for an ancestor. Wilberforce was not ashamed of having an ancestor who fought against slavery.

  2. Ah, if only Huxley realized what Scott realizes atheism means -- that "warranty" doesn't exist.

  3. I guess Huxley disagreed with Scott, too. He thought inferences/beliefs can have "warranty." But of course Scott is right to contend that atheism neither grounds the inference of nor accounts for the existence of any such thing.

  4. This YEC also denies God created types of crocs or even crocs. they are in fact products of the fall on some kind of creature.
    other mechanisms are and can be invoked before the lack of them proves the evolution mechanism.
    These old victorians were kinda dumber then us who are not all that.

  5. If only Jeff realized there are atheist foundationalists as well as theistic foundationalist. He'd realize that theism is merely a specific example foundationalism. Neither of which withstand rational criticism.

    I'll again point out that Popper was interested in explaining how people actually create knowledge, in practice. This is in contrast to what people such as Jeff *believe* they are doing.

    For example, when I ask Jeff to describe how foundationalism works for him, in practice, what he describes is compatible with with conjecture and criticism. Furthermore, Jeff has yet to indicate how foundationalism actually solves any problem.

    Apparently, Jeff thinks Huxley's advice to "Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion" doesn't apply to theories of knowledge creation as no one, including Jeff, has yet to present a "Principle of indiction" that actually works in practice.