Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interesting quote from Huxley

I'm doing some background research for my CBS abstracts, and I stumbled across this really interesting passage in a paper by T.H. Huxley from 1868:
And, as I can testify from personal experience, it is possible to have a complete faith in the general doctrine of evolution and yet to hesitate in accepting the nebular, or the uniformitarian, or the Darwinian hypotheses in all their integrity and fullness; for many of the objections which are brought against these various hypotheses affect them only, and, even if they be valid, leave the general doctrine of evolution untouched.
He's quite right about that. We can pick away all we want at uniformitarianism or natural selection or the Big Bang, and we won't really do much to erode confidence in the "basic doctrine of evolution," which Huxley defined as the belief
that the present conformation and composition of the earth's crust, the distribution of land and water, and the infinitely diversified forms of animals and plants which constitute its present population, are merely the final terms in an immense series of changes which have been brought about, in the course of immeasurable time, by the operation of causes more or less similar to those which are at work at the present day.

Huxley, T.H. 1868. On the animals which are most nearly intermediate between birds and reptiles. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 4th series. 2:66-75.

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