Printer Friendly

Reading the fossils of faith: Thomas Henry Huxley and the evolutionary subtext of the synoptic problem.

In a book loaded with metaphors of assault and retaliation, Andrew Dickson White's A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom saved one of the best for Darwin. "Darwin's Origin of Species," we are told, came "into the theological world like a plough into an ant-hill. Everywhere those thus rudely awakened from their old comfort and repose had swarmed forth angry and confused." (1) For White, the sometimes frenzied post-Darwinian controversies over providential design and divine creation were simply the latest episodes in an all-out struggle between theology and science that stretched back beyond Galileo's cheerless encounters with the Catholic Church. Though the voices may have been different, the song remained the same. Despite its continuing presence in the popular media, contemporary historians of religion and science now regard White's warfare thesis as an artifact of the constantly shifting relationships between these two cultural fields rather than a viable analysis of their engagement. The fundamental problem with the conflict model is that it is a bit like performing heart surgery with a Phillips head screwdriver: it is simply too blunt of an instrument for getting at the all-too-crucial particulars. As a result, it is likely to do more harm than good. To see why, consider what James Moore has called the "religious filiation" of Charles Darwin's evolutionary thought. (2)

The standard portrait of Darwin has him initiating a new intellectual battlefield in the war between religion and science by mechanistically draining nature of moral purpose and leaving humanity in a godless universe. From this vantage point, one of Darwin's most important conceptual innovations was to embrace the attention to design that characterized British natural theology while simultaneously undermining its analogical reach for a supernatural designer. In other words, to borrow a line from the historian David Kohn, Darwin's mechanism of natural selection served to secularize biological thought. (3) Gillian Beer adds some literary nuance to this interpretation when she suggests that the nineteenth-century project of natural history rested so completely on a Paleyite vision of the world that the atheological Darwin was left little choice but "to write against the grain of his discourse." (4) When we add a few choice biographical details--such as Darwin's profound despair over the death of his daughter Annie in 1851, or his well-worn confession to Asa Gray that he could not persuade himself that "a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their larva feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars"--it would seem as though this familiar image is beyond dispute. (5) Yet, a very different estimation of how religious vocabularies informed Darwin's theorizing has recently emerged.

According to this alternative portrait, orthodox Darwin historiography has overplayed his relationship with the natural theological tradition. The standard interpretation construes the absence of a "watchmaker God" in Origin as a subversive attempt to erase the designer from natural theological design. The emerging trend is to take this absence as a sign that he was swimming within a different intellectual current. The conceptual heart of this interpretation is the claim that Darwin's nature of super fecundity and sublime grandeur looks more like the dynamic nature of Goethe than the passive nature that Paley's theology requires. Phillip Sloan has argued, for example, that when we take into account Darwin's early passion for the writings of Alexander von Humboldt, the apparent metaphysical "godlessness" of his vision of natural history begins to resemble the sorts of aesthetic pantheism that we commonly associate with German Romanticism and Naturphilosophie. (6) The far-reaching implications of this historiographical shift are made explicit when Robert J. Richards takes on a century of scholarship and suggests that Darwin's "Romantic assumptions led him to portray nature as organic, as opposed to mechanistic, and to identify God with nature, or at least to reanimate nature with the soul of the recently departed deity." (7) On this reading of Origin, instead of a tragic choice between God or Nature Darwin's work is underwritten by a version of Spinoza's portrait of the fundamental unity between God and Nature.

Whether the alternative "German" portrait of Darwin actually overturns our traditional understanding of his work or merely adds subtle new details to the standard "British" interpretation is relatively unimportant for my project. (8) As I take it, the larger point at stake in the ongoing reconsideration of Darwin's "religious filiation" is that living up to the challenge of making sense of the history of religion and science while doing justice to the complexity of their engagement means refusing the metanarrative seductions of the conflict thesis. (9) In what follows, I want to examine a thicket of historical relationships and issues that the warfare model has obscured from view by unraveling the connection between evolutionary thought and biblical criticism in the nineteenth century. Specifically, my aim is to unearth the link that unites the Synoptic Problem, the workhorse of modern New Testament studies, and Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-95)--a man who is often viewed as the paradigmatic scientific warrior against religion.

The fact that Huxley addressed the Synoptic Problem in print is not terribly difficult to explain. As Paul White has recently demonstrated, Huxley carefully cultivated and managed the image of himself as something more than a professional scientist. In his own eyes, he was a "man of science," a lofty figure of cultural authority who--by virtue of his moral probity and wide-ranging erudition--was uniquely positioned to address the pressing economic, political, religious, and scientific concerns of the day. (10) Huxley's self-appointed vocation demanded that he respond to the latest results of German Higher Criticism in much the same way that a figure like Matthew Arnold felt obligated to unpack the cultural and literary significance of this scholarship. Huxley's cultural self-fashioning is important to keep in mind because the temptation is to say that his sole interest in New Testament criticism was that it yielded a heady antitheological weapon in his war against religion. Even if this were the case--and I do not believe it is--by treating biblical criticism in general as an antitheological device, this account nevertheless fails to explain why Huxley would embrace any particular historico-critical thesis regarding the literary origins of the New Testament. As I see it, the pressing historical question is not "Why did Huxley write about the Synoptic Problem?" but is instead "Why did Huxley believe all three Synoptic Gospels were dependent upon a single Ur-Marcus?"

I will argue that Huxley arrived at this conclusion by viewing biblical criticism as one plank within a larger campaign for cultural and social reform--a campaign that, among other things, would make science the conceptual foundation for humanistic studies. More precisely, by extending the discourse of natural history to address religion, Huxley could regard "scientific" biblical criticism and the anthropology of religion as forms of biological inquiry. Thus, both the form and content of the Ur-Marcus solution to the Synoptic Problem became an opportunity for Huxley to demonstrate the methodological superiority of scientific thought and the explanatory breadth of the Darwinian hypothesis. If we situate him within the history of interaction between language theory and evolutionary thought in the nineteenth century, Huxley's writings on the Synoptic Problem look like an attempt to extend the parallels between the linguistic descent of language and the biological descent of species that intellectuals like August Schleicher (1821-68) and Charles Lyell (1797-1875) had already explored. What this means is that rather than seeing the Bible as an impediment to science--a conclusion that seems virtually unavoidable if the conflict thesis is our historiographical guide--Huxley appropriated the text in such a way that its "natural history" actually confirmed key elements of Darwin's evolutionary project.


The biblical scholar Werner Kummel has observed that at the end of the eighteenth century what had once been nothing more than a mere synoptic "question" had been magnified into a full-fledged synoptic "problem." (11) That is to say, for most of Christian history one of the standing challenges had been to harmonize the conflicting chronological accounts of Jesus' life and death that are provided in the canonical Gospels. Nagging uncertainties about the precise length of Jesus' ministry on earth or the actual day of his crucifixion had harassed biblical exegetes for more than a millennium. Yet, in spite of their dedication to resolving these dilemmas, very little headway had been made. By the late 1700s, the long-suffering hope of harmonizing the four Gospels had been more or less abandoned. As a case in point, Johann Griesbach announced in his ground-breaking Synopsis: "I frankly acknowledge and wish my readers to keep in mind that under no circumstances will one find a so-called 'harmony' in this little book. Although I am quite aware of all the trouble learned men have taken to prepare a harmony in accordance with the rules they have laid down, I believe, nevertheless that not just a little but almost no profit at all can be derived [from their harmonies]." (12) Instead of forging an exegetical agreement between these texts, intellectuals began to think that the pressing issue was how best to explain why the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke shared such profound narrative and linguistic continuities.

There is a sense in which Gotthold Lessing (1729-81), the German literary critic, philosopher, and playwright, was the first modern figure to pose and attempt to resolve the Synoptic Problem. In fact, the New Testament scholar William Farmer has estimated that "almost every subsequent development in the history of the Synoptic Problem is indebted in one way or another to the work of Lessing." (13) Informed by the conviction that mere historical facts are insufficient grounds for robust religious faith, his interest in the historicity of the New Testament was designed to upset what he took to be the short-sighted "bibliolatry" of orthodox Christianity. From his vantage point, even without the Bible true Christianity would endure. "The religion is not true because the evangelists and apostles taught it," he wrote, "but they taught it because it is true." (14) At bottom, his question about Matthew, Mark, and Luke was this: How is it possible that three allegedly independent witnesses could use the same word-for-word sentences and expressions to tell the same story? According to Lessing, there could only be one possible explanation; in composing their Gospels, the evangelists had each drawn upon an Urevangelium, a primal, prototypical account of Jesus' life and teaching. Only this assumption, we are told, "explains the agreement which exists in the words used by these evangelists." (15)

Drawing on the church fathers' scattered references to the Gospel of the Apostles, the Gospel of the Hebrews, and the Gospel of the Nazarenes--documents that are apparently lost forever--Lessing argued that these three texts were actually the same Gospel known by different names within different communities. Moreover, he reasoned that this document must have been the Urevangelium, the Aramaic text that set down for the first time the scattered, orally transmitted recollections of those who had actually known Jesus. On this rather conjectural basis, he drew three conclusions. First, Matthew is the earliest of the evangelists and produced a selective Greek translation of the complete Gospel of the Nazarenes for non-Jewish Christians. Second, Mark does not simply summarize Matthew--as Augustine and other church fathers argued--but instead offers the Greek translation of an incomplete copy of the Aramaic source document. Third, Luke provides the most exhaustive and skillful translation of the complete Primal Gospel, but chooses to rearrange the source material for dramatic purposes. Lest we make a historical fetish of these Gospels and their relationship to the Urevangelium, however, he maintained that we must consider that the seemingly heretical pluralism of early Christianity was the direct result of the Primal Gospel producing a multiplicity of second-generation Gospels. "It is a completely mistaken notion to suppose the heretics forged false Gospels," he observes: "On the contrary, because there were so many Gospels, which all originated from the one Nazarene source, there were so many heretics; ... the fact that there were so many Gospels caused so many heretics to come into existence." (16) For Lessing, rather than a static text to be mimetically copied again and again, the Primal Gospel was a spring of religious revelation, a force that gave rise to an endless variety of Gospels. In language that mimics the biological theory of the use and disuse of organs, Lessing argued that the Urevangelium is "the source from which flowed forth both the better Gospels that are still extant and the less good ones which on that account fell out of use and so were finally lost." (17)

If Lessing is responsible for the basic form of the modern Synoptic Problem and its solution, another German luminary--Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803)--is nevertheless responsible for a decisive contribution to the history of New Testament criticism. In general, Herder accepted the broad contours of Lessing's case for the dependence of the Synoptic Gospels on an Urevangelium but disagreed on two points: one somewhat technical, the other quite consequential. First, Herder suggested that the Primal Gospel was a modestly stable oral tradition and only secondarily a text. The underlying rationale for this claim is that the first Gospel was actually Jesus' own teaching. As a result, the earliest evangelists would have resembled poetic rhapsodists like the Homeric poets of German philologist Friederich August Wolff's influential Prolegomena ad Homerum (1795). That is to say, the evangelists would have resorted to textually preserving Jesus' teaching only when the historical remoteness of his career began to jeopardize his followers' full recall and faithful transmission of his message. Second, and more importantly, because of the stability and primacy of the oral Urevangelium Mark and not Matthew is the earliest evangelist. When stripped down to the bare bones, the architecture of Herder's thinking looks something like this. Oral traditions do not allow for the kinds of linguistic complexity and literary flourishes that characterize written traditions. So, when we consider that the earliest Gospel was oral rather than literary--and that Mark is the most linguistically rudimentary of the canonical Gospels--we arrive at a two-fold conclusion. First, Mark is the closest approximation of the original Christian Gospel that we have. Second, Mark is the earliest of the canonical Gospels. Herder made this connection between the primitivity of form and historical priority explicit:
 Mark's Gospel is not an abbreviation, but a Gospel in its own right.
 What others have in a more expanded form and differently has been
 added by them, not omitted by Mark. Furthermore, Mark is witness
 to an original, briefer version, to which what the others include
 over and above what is in it is to be regarded as an addition. Is
 not this the natural point of view? Is not the briefer, the
 unadorned, usually the more primitive, to which, then, other
 occasions later add explanation, embellishment, rounding out? (18)

When viewed from this "natural" perspective, the history of the New Testament is a developmentally progressive one. Over time, the foundations of the Christian tradition grew from the folk practices of an oral tradition, into the primitive document of Mark, and eventually into the increasingly complex and literarily refined biblical texts of Matthew and Luke. (19)

With the theorized existence of an Urevangelium and the claim of Marcan priority both on the table, we are now in a position to address what turned out to be a defining moment in modern New Testament criticism: Heinrich Holtzmann's (1832-1910) presentation of the "two source hypothesis" in The Synoptic Gospels (1863). Nearly one hundred years separate the late-eighteenth-century work of Lessing and Herder from that of Holtzmann, and in that time a great deal occurred. The firestorms over Ferdinand Christian Baur and David Friederich Strauss's work had given new urgency to questions about the historical reliability of the New Testament, and scholars such as Heinrich Ewald and Christian Weisse had each assembled substantial proposals regarding the Synoptic Problem. For my rather limited purposes, a comprehensive survey of New Testament and biblical criticism in the first half of the nineteenth century is beyond the scope of this paper. (20) As a matter of fact, even Holtzmann's case for postulating a source common only to Matthew and Luke--a hypothesized document now known as "Q'--would take us too far afield. What is important for my case, however, is that Holtzmann set out to produce a comprehensive solution to the Synoptic Problem by combining Lessing's vision of a Primal Gospel with Herder's arguments for both the historical priority and formal primitivity of Mark.

Painted in broad strokes, his conclusion was that behind the Synoptic Gospels stood an Urevangelium that (notwithstanding Lessing) was not the Gospel of the Nazarenes and (notwithstanding Herder) could not be equated with a stable oral tradition. For Holtzmann, though the original source of Matthew, Mark, and Luke presupposed an oral tradition, it must have been a written text and--based on his analysis of the linguistic evidence--it must have been a "primal" version of Mark: what he called an Ur-Marcus. Although this theoretical maneuver solved many of the strictly historical problems regarding the Synoptic Gospels' literary relationships, Holtzmann believed that the impact of his discovery was much more than a merely historical breakthrough. In his own estimation, the lasting value of his research was that by establishing the historical priority of Mark and the historical necessity of an Ur-Marcus, we were closer to the historical Jesus than we had even been before. "It is undeniable," he wrote, that "nowhere does what the man Jesus was stand out so clearly" as in the Urevangelium and Mark. (21) For Holtzmann and others like him, the toolbox of modern biblical scholarship was important because it revealed permanent theological truths.


Although debates over biological transmutationism may look a world away from the principles and techniques of New Testament criticism, I believe that there was an intimate historical relationship between these two discourses. On my reading, the conceptual bridge that united these seemingly incongruent fields of inquiry was provided by the robust interaction between language theory and evolutionary theory in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century thought. Not surprisingly, the inspiration for much of this work lies between the covers of On the Origin of Species. (22)

Darwin was acutely aware that his proposal regarding the evolutionary process of descent with modification could be held hostage by the fossil record. What if the material record of life's history did not supply the "innumerable transitional forms" that, according to him, must have existed? What if, instead of positive evidence for gradual descent with modification, there was only geological silence? Darwin's proposed solution to this dilemma was to argue that the fossil record is intrinsically incomplete. In an attempt to chip away at the challenges that a spotty paleontological record creates for his project, he reached for a linguistic analogy. "I look at the natural geological record," we read, "as a history of the world imperfectly kept, and written in a changing dialect; of this history we possess the last volume alone... [and] of this volume, only here and there a short chapter has been preserved; and of each page, only here and there a few lines." (23) According to Darwin, rather than giving us all the information we need to exhaustively reconstruct the natural history of life, the fragmentary and decaying text of the fossil record forces us to interpret its tantalizing silences.

The practice of invoking linguistic metaphors to reflect on issues of natural philosophy stretches back well into the seventeenth century, as Galileo's celebrated distinction between the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature attests. (24) Yet, for a nineteenth-century naturalist like Darwin, the power of this convention was dramatically demonstrated in the work of Charles Lyell (1797-1875). Lyell had studied classical antiquity at Oxford (1816-19), and throughout the 1820s we find him experimenting with various metaphors of literary interpretation to highlight the hermeneutical challenges of natural history. For example, Lyell drew an explicit analogy between the procedure of using fossils to date geological ages and the ability to translate otherwise unintelligible human texts. Acknowledging the recent success at decoding Egyptian hieroglyphics via the Rosetta stone's demotic script, Lyell observed that fossils represent "the ordinary, or as Champollion says, the demotic character in which Nature has been pleased to write all her most curious documents." (25) His influence on this topic is confirmed by the fact that the Darwinian vision of the fossil record as a kind of geological palimpsest is an amalgamation of metaphors culled from Lyell's Principles of Geology (1830-33) and Elements of Geology (1838).

Four years after the publication of Origin, Lyell returned this intellectual courtesy and tried to make good on Darwin's hunch that the natural history of languages could provide a model for illustrating the biological process of descent with modification. Tucked away in the back of Geological Evidences for the Antiquity of Man (1863), his chapter on the "Origin and Development of Languages and Species Compared" concludes that philology not only provides empirical evidence for the doctrine of transmutation: it also calms fears about a fossil record that refuses to play along. To explain why this is the case, Lyell introduced an imaginary interlocutor to pose a linguistic analogue of the question that worried Darwin: If today's languages are the products of descent with modification, where is the historical evidence of the innumerable transitional linguistic forms that must have existed? Lyell's response is instructive:
 As to the many and wide gaps sometimes encountered between the
 dead and living languages, we must remember that it is not a part of
 the plan of any people to preserve memorials of their forms of speech
 expressly for the edification of posterity. Their MSS. and
 inscriptions serve some present purpose, are occasional and
 imperfect from the first, and are rendered more fragmentary in the
 course of time, some being intentionally destroyed, others lost by
 the decay of the perishable materials on which they were written: so
 that to question the theory of all known languages being derivative
 on the ground that we can rarely trace a passage from the ancient to
 the modern through all the dialects which must have flourished one
 after the other in the intermediate ages, implies a want of
 reflection on the laws which govern the recording as well as the
 obliterating process. (26)

The point of Lyell's analogy is this. When it comes to writing the natural history of human language, local gaps of knowledge do not prevent theorists from drawing global conclusions. Even if we had no definitive proof of Latin's existence--no manuscripts, no architecture, no statues--linguists would nevertheless inductively arrive at the conclusion that something like Latin had to exist for Italian, Spanish, and French to display such profound grammatical and linguistic continuities. So too, when it comes to writing the natural history of life on earth, we must not assume that local gaps of knowledge bar us from describing the general evolutionary process. In each case, the methodological challenge of what might be labeled "natural hermeneutics" is to decode the information hidden within the varieties of Nature's textual silence. (27) As the work of German philologist August Schleicher (1839-1919) confirms, however, Lyell was not alone when it came to turning Darwin's penchant for linguistic metaphors into something more decisive.

One of Darwin's aims in Origin was to demonstrate how the traditional taxonomic challenges of biological classification can be resolved if we view the natural world as the "strictly genealogical" result of descent with modification. In a bid to clarify his proposal for overhauling the time-honored systems of morphological classification, Darwin called upon yet another linguistic analogy. "If we possessed a perfect pedigree of mankind," he speculated:
 a genealogical arrangement of the races of man would afford the best
 classification of languages now spoken throughout the world; and if
 all extinct languages, and all intermediate and slowly changing
 dialects, had to be included, such an arrangement would, I think, be
 the only possible one. Yet it might be that some very ancient
 language had altered little, and had given rise to few new
 languages, whilst others ... had altered much, and had given rise to
 many new languages and dialects. The various degrees of differences
 in the languages from the same stock, would still have to be
 expressed by groups subordinate to groups; but the proper or even
 only possible arrangement would still be genealogical; and this
 would be strictly natural, as it would connect together all
 languages, extinct and modern, by the closest affinities, and would
 give the filiation and origin of each tongue. (28)

Discerning the point of this passage is difficult because in addition to constructing an elaborate analogy between the classification of species and languages, Darwin is concurrently arguing against polygenic accounts of human origins. For my purposes, however, it is the theoretical insight that the historical relationships between languages on a single "Tree of Language" may provide a model for capturing the genealogical relationships between species on a single "Tree of Life" that deserves our attention.

When Otto Schleicher finally submitted to Ernst Haeckel's near-constant harassment and read the German translation of Darwin's Origin, he was dumbstruck. Here was an argument for the evolutionary transformation of one organism into another through a gradual process of descent with modification that bore an uncanny resemblance to his own reflections on the natural history of human language. Moreover, at crucial points in his argument--like the above passage about the evolutionary unity of Homo sapiens--Darwin appealed to linguistic metaphors to flesh out his thinking. Yet, anxious to demonstrate that linguistics had matured into a genuine natural science, Schleicher argued that Darwin's metaphorical strategy failed to appreciate the true import of the relationship between linguistic and biological descent. That is to say, where Darwin was only prepared to treat language as a model for depicting descent with modification, Schleicher insisted that the history of language provides empirical evidence for that process. What the biological naturalist desperately needed to confirm Darwin's theory of transmutation, in other words, the linguistic naturalist was uniquely capable of providing. For once, Schleicher boasted in Darwinism Tested by the Science of Language (1863), "the glossologist has an advantage over his brother naturalists in this respect. We are actually able to trace directly in many idioms that they have branched off into several languages, dialects, etc., for we are in a position to follow the course of some, nay, of whole families of them during a period of more than two thousand years, since a faithful picture of them has been left to us in writing." (29)

To demonstrate his point, Schleicher drew attention to the fact that Darwin's lone diagram of the hypothesized branching of biological taxa was a thoroughly abstract affair. Letters and superscripts denote the gradual divergence of characters, but not a single living or extinct organism is identified. One consequence of remaining at this high level of abstraction was that Darwin could only "infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial from." (30) In contrast, Schleicher called attention to the scholarly practice of using tree-like stemmata to map out the actual branching historical relationships between the "Indo-Germanic" languages. If the linguists' stemmata of the historical descent of languages could themselves speak, they would reveal that:
 At a remote period of the existence of the human species, there was
 an Ursprache, which we can pretty clearly recognize in the so-called
 Indo-Germanic languages to which it has given birth. This primitive
 language, after having been spoken for several generations
 ... gradually assumed a different character in different parts of
 its domain, until at last it branched into a couple of languages, or
 possibly into more than two, of which two only survived; the same
 applies to all ulterior ramification and division. Both these
 languages again submitted repeatedly to the process of ramification
 ... [as described by] Darwin's continual tendency to divergency of
 character. (31)

As I read this passage, two things are worth noticing. First, as one may gather from this talk of a "primitive language," Schleicher's portrait of the evolution of language shares a crucial historiographical assumption with the Urevangelium solution to the Synoptic Problem. That is, both theoretical vocabularies establish developmentally progressive narratives by making primitivity of form an indicator of historical priority. Second, the underlying claim is that where Darwin's Origin leaves us with an impressive but ultimately naked theoretical mannequin, the "natural" historian of language can dress out the evolutionary figure with glittering empirical facts. For Schleicher and his disciplinary kin, linguistics had earned its place at the high table of scientific research by doing for Darwin what Darwin could not do for himself.


With this brief tour of the cross-fertilization between linguistic theory and evolutionary thought as a backdrop, I hope it seems less improbable that a similar relationship existed between evolutionary thought and biblical criticism. For what it is worth, some intellectuals viewed the two developments as naturally connected. Indeed, some even couched their arguments in language that mirrored Darwin's celebrated botanical image of an entangled bank upon which "forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." (32) The cultural critic Matthew Arnold wrote of the Gospel, in a letter to Huxley no less, as "a thing growing naturally and with many parts which must fall away from it or be transformed." (33) Even Andrew Dickson White could suggest that while evolutionary thought ravages pre-Darwinian biblical interpretation, it is nevertheless an active force in the "reconstruction and recrystalization" of biblically grounded religious truth. White advised his readers that, "If, in the atmosphere generated by the earlier developed sciences, the older growths of biblical interpretation have drooped and withered and are evidently perishing, new and better growths have arisen with roots running down into the newer sciences." (34) Further evidence of the perceived link between evolutionary thought and modern biblical criticism can be found in the work of eminent "Oxford school" New Testament scholars like B. H. Streeter, who insisted that when taken together Q, Mark, Matthew, and Luke "form three distinct stages in the evolution of the Gospel writings." (35) Streeter's colleague William Sanday would later bless this extension of the evolutionary vocabulary by arguing that the literary history of the New Testament is "a real evolution, and an evolution conceived as growth, in which each stage springs naturally, spontaneously, and inevitably out of the last." (36) The idea that real evolution can be described as spontaneous and inevitable growth that forms three distinct stages would, of course, make most neo-Darwinians today cringe. Nevertheless, as Michael Ruse and others have illustrated, the history of modern biological thought reveals that Darwin's evolutionary proposal has had a long and complicated association with notions of Progress. (37)

The colloquial image of Huxley as the Darwinian warrior battling against religion makes it improbable that he would be participating in a constructive conversation about the relationship between evolutionary thought and the Bible. (38) After all, we are talking about a man who once proclaimed: "Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules; and history records that wherever science and orthodoxy have been fairly opposed, the latter have been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed if not annihilated." (39) Yet, this is also the same person who could judge that, "it is at any rate conceivable, that the nature of the Deity, and His relations to the universe, and more especially to mankind, are capable of being ascertained, either inductively or deductively, or by both processes. And if they have been ascertained, then a body of science has been formed which is very properly called theology." (40) So, as we have already seen in the case of Darwin's religious filiation, the sort of broad stroke historiography that the warfare thesis promotes leaves us ill equipped to wrestle with the rich complexities of Huxley's sociocultural embeddedness. For example, Frank Turner and Adrian Desmond argue that much of Huxley's bluster about a deadly war between science and religion can be chalked up to his political gambit to professionalize science in England and wrest national prestige, educational control, and government funding away from the Anglican elite. Thus, what one player describes as a world-historical struggle between religion and science turns out to be a local skirmish over purse strings and cultural authority that has been deliberately blown out of proportion. (41) Recognizing that the warfare model typically obscures as much as it reveals is crucial for my project because Huxley's reflections on the Synoptic Problem are part of an episode that virtually begs for a militaristic interpretation--his 1889-90 clash over the meanings of agnosticism with Henry Wace, Principal of King's College.

One of the key issues at play in the Huxley-Wace squabble was whether the New Testament provides sufficient warrant for Christian religious faith. That is, should the Gospels be viewed as an authoritative, reliable, and true account of Jesus' life and teaching? From Wace's perspective, the essentials of the Christian faith--which he took to mean the Lord's Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Passion--were beyond dispute. He maintained: "there can, at least, be no reasonable doubt that Jesus Christ lived, and taught, and died, in the belief of certain great principles respecting the existence of God, our relation to God, and His own relation to us, which an Agnostic says are beyond the possibilities of human knowledge." (42) According to Huxley, however, these sorts of specific questions about the Gospels' authority regarding what Jesus did and said were inherently tied to the Gospels' general historical and scientific reliability. That is to say, any single element of the New Testament that failed to pass a fairly low threshold of probability should undermine our epistemological confidence in the Gospels' universal credibility. This is the point where the modern Synoptic Problem entered the picture.

In a move that mirrors the Victorian conviction that the discovery of scientific truth depended on the investigator's personal integrity, Huxley proposed that our confidence in the substance of a historical text is tied to our confidence in the author of that text. (43) If we know something about who wrote the texts, why they were written and when, we are in a much better position to judge whether their contents should be trusted. "For if proof exists," he observed, "that A B C and D wrote them, and that they were intelligent persons, writing independently and without prejudice, about facts within their own knowledge--their statements must need be worthy of the most attentive consideration." (44) Yet, Huxley continued, these decisive criteria are precisely what New Testament critics now deny about the Synoptic Gospels:
 From the dawn of scientific biblical criticism until the present
 day, the evidence against the long-cherished idea that the three
 synoptic Gospels are the works of three independent authors, each
 prompted by Divine inspiration, has steadily accumulated until, at
 the present time there is no escape from the conclusion that each of
 the three is a compilation consisting of a groundwork common to all
 three. (45)

Huxley's oblique reference in this passage to an Urevangelium was not lost on the Anglican Wace. His rhetorical appeal to the unrivaled cultural authority of scientific biblical criticism, combined with the conspicuous exaggeration that there is no reasonable alternative to the Primal Gospel hypothesis, was simply too much. Drawing on his own expert witness, Wace draws attention to the fact that in his recently published Das Urchristentum (1887) the German scholar Otto Pfleiderer (1839-1908) "most positively attributes the second Gospel in its present form to St. Mark, and declares that there is no ground whatsoever for that supposition of an Ur-Marcus ... from which Professor Huxley alleges that 'at the present time there is no visible escape.'" (46) Called on the carpet to defend his unqualified support for the Urevangelium hypothesis, Huxley produced a lengthy and sometimes caustic rejoinder to Wace's criticisms. Specifically appealing to the historico-critical work of Heinrich Holtzmann and others, he firmly stood his ground:
 There is now no doubt that the three Synoptic Gospels, so far from
 being the work of three independent writers, are closely
 interdependent, and that in one of two ways. Either all three
 contain, as their foundation, versions to a large extent verbally
 identical, of one and the same tradition; or two of them are thus
 closely dependent on the third; and the opinion of the majority of
 the best critics has of late years more and more converged towards
 the conviction that our canonical second Gospel ... is that which
 most closely represents the primitive groundwork of the three. (47)

From this vantage point, the Synoptic Gospels are modified literary reproductions rather than first-person, eyewitness accounts of what Jesus said or did. As a consequence, the warrant they provide for traditional Christian faith has been greatly--if not fatally--diminished. Regardless of what the question is, when it comes to philosophically justifying one's religious commitments, the appeal to what the New Testament says does not have the same epistemological vigor that it once had. It is crucial to note, however, that despite its somewhat iffy origins Huxley does not suggest that the Bible is obsolete and insignificant. Like many Victorian intellectuals, Huxley was often prepared to argue that these texts were essential to fostering "the religious feeling, which is the essential basis of conduct." (48) Yet, I believe Huxley also viewed the Bible as something more than a socially useful moral primer. Motivated by the normative concerns that distinguished a man of science from a mere technician, he imagined a hermeneutical posture towards these texts that would participate in a sweeping project of cultural and social reform.

Throughout his very public career, Huxley insisted that the existing cultural forms of late-nineteenth-century England were ill suited to address the practical and moral responsibilities of a modern empire. If one assumes that the physical and moral foundations of the nation are secure, he would observe near the end of his life, "there remains for consideration the means of attaining that knowledge and skill without which, even then, the battle of competition cannot be successfully fought." (49) On the one hand, Huxley conceded that the dedication to classical literature that characterized the curriculum at elite educational institutions nurtured the moral imagination; nevertheless, these institutions failed to teach anything particularly useful. On the other hand, he granted that the generally utilitarian tone of popular culture addressed the hands-on requirements of commerce and industry, but was convinced that this practical orientation failed to cultivate a comprehensive vision of the good. In his estimation an education should assimilate the normative ambitions of Oxbridge culture and the applied thrust of the street, all in the service of "the instruction of the intellect in the laws of nature, under which name I include not merely things and their forces, but men and their ways; and the fashioning of the affections and of the will into an earnest and loving desire to move in harmony with those laws." (50) According to Huxley only science could synthesize these seemingly contrarian impulses by virtue of its distinctive mix of empirical precision and moral discipline. More pointedly, the future vitality of the empire demanded nothing less than a scientific bouleversement of British cultural and educational practices. "The thing you really have to do," he observed before a parliamentary subcommittee on education in 1868, "is to invert the whole edifice, and to make the foundation science." (51) On my reading of Huxley, the emerging scientific discourse on religion both contributed to and exemplified the kind of dramatic intellectual and cultural reorientation that he envisioned.

In the 1886 essay The Evolution of Theology, for example, he adopted the theoretical stance of a physical anthropologist to analyze religious thought as "a natural product of the operations of the human mind." (52) The decision to view religion as something naturally expressed rather than culturally instilled provided Huxley with an opportunity to accomplish two things. First, he was able to offer a concrete example of how one can make science the conceptual foundation for "humanistic" or "literary" studies by drawing upon the discourse of natural history in general and Darwinian evolution in particular. Thus, he pointed out in language that echoes that of Darwin in the Origin, religion has a "history ... it is to be met with in certain simple and rudimentary forms; and these can be connected by a multitude of gradations which exist or have existed, among people of various ages and races" (53) Second, the methodological and theoretical resources of natural history--including the vast collection of metaphors and analogies that had been invented and fine-tuned along the way--offered Huxley a field-tested suite of conceptual tools for thinking about religion. On this side of the ledger, I believe the most important tools were provided by the cross-fertilizing history of interaction between language theory and evolutionary thought. (54) In a passage worth quoting at length, Huxley called the Hebrew Bible a "record of ancient life" in which:
 we have the stratified deposits (often confused and even with their
 natural order inverted) left by the stream of the intellectual and
 moral life of Israel during many centuries. And, embedded in these
 strata, there are numerous remains of forms of thought which once
 lived, and which, though often unfortunately mere fragments, are of
 priceless value to the anthropologist. Our task is to rescue these
 from their relatively unimportant surroundings, and by careful
 comparison with existing forms of theology to make the dead world
 which they record live again. In other words, our problem is
 paloeontological, and the method pursued must be the same as that
 employed in dealing with other fossil remains. (55)

Read within the context of late-nineteenth-century intellectual life, Huxley's supercessionary assumption that the theology of the Hebrew Bible belongs to a fundamentally different era of human existence is thoroughly unremarkable. Although he took pains to distinguish himself from the Positivism of Auguste Comte--which Huxley famously insulted as "Catholicism minus Christianity"--he nevertheless shared Comte's historiographical conviction that the Age of Science picked up where the Age of Theology ended. (56) More to the point, as the work of E. B. Tylor and John Lubbock reveals, the theoretical assumption that human history consists of relatively distinct developmental stages was the common coin of nineteenth-century British anthropological thought. (57) But the story does not end on this conventional note.


What is intriguing about Huxley's interpretive strategy is that he has reversed the traditional order of transposed concepts. In Lyell's Principles of Geology and Darwin's Origin of Species, the practice of using linguistic metaphors and analogies was designed to make sense of an otherwise unintelligible natural world. To a first approximation, the objective was to extend the human domain of textual interpretation to the nonhuman domain of geology in such a way that the natural world itself becomes an intelligibly written text. In Lyell's Geological Evidences for the Antiquity of Man and Schleicher's Darwinism Tested by the Science of Language, the direction of intellectual transfer remains constant, but the point of the exercise has changed. This time around, the transfer of concepts from the human to the nonhuman is no longer a heuristic guide for our understanding. Instead, linguistic phenomena are thought to provide empirical evidence for scientific theorizing about biological and geological phenomena.

In contrast to both of these tactics, Huxley moves from the nonhuman to the human as the discourses of geology and biology are extended to cover the natural history of religion. Where Darwin treated fossils as texts to be read, Huxley viewed historical texts as the fossilized remains of a former life that can be scientifically resurrected. This methodological reversal, in which the whole edifice of literary interpretation has been inverted and science now provides the conceptual foundation for humanistic inquiry, is obviously a microscopic version of the grand, macroscopic social transformation that Huxley had in mind. In addition, it is also the intellectual muscle behind Huxley's brand of biblical hermeneutics. Thus, he viewed the critical recognition that the Synoptic Gospels are not eyewitness reports as an epistemic and cultural opportunity to reorient ourselves toward the books of the New Testament. It is time for us to "make the documents tell their own story," Huxley wrote, "study them as we study fossils, to discover internal evidence of when they arose, and how they have come to be." (58) It is important to note that Huxley viewed palaeontology as the branch of science that consisted in the "application of the principles of biology to the interpretation of animal and vegetable remains imbedded in the rocks which compose the surface of the globe." (59) In Huxley's extension of the vocabulary of palaeontology to cover the Bible, there is a sense in which he was suggesting that modern, scientific biblical criticism--in contrast to its antique theological and humanistic cousins--should be viewed as a branch of modern biology.

The payoff for this line of attack was that by invoking the scientific discourses of biology and geology to understand cultural phenomena, Huxley could justify his confidence in the methodological soundness and explanatory breadth of evolutionary theory. According to Huxley's model of the arts and sciences--where science provides the conceptual foundation for humanistic endeavors--the success of one ultimately means the success of the other. More to the point, by treating scientific biblical criticism as a form of biological inquiry, Huxley could use the ability of biblical criticism to solve the Synoptic Problem as a means for confirming the contours of Darwinian thought along two lines.

First, the Ur-Marcus solution to the Synoptic problem looked like a fluorescent confirmation of Lyell and Schleicher's "remarkable" and "instructive" discovery that linguistic descent and biological descent could be viewed as two versions of a single historical process. (60) Biology and the scientific study of religion were effortlessly arriving at similar models of branching genealogical divergence because they were both attempting to classify, study, and explain the natural results of descent with modification. More pointedly, the shifting patterns of human culture and the shifting patterns of nonhuman nature were, at bottom, the same phenomenon and could therefore both be explained by a single transmutationist hypothesis--the theoretical scaffolding that had solved the "mystery of mysteries" could also reveal the mysteries of the Bible. Whether the subject of inquiry was a living organism or a collection of texts, Huxley insisted the only alternative to the specious doctrine of "special creation" was the Darwinian hypothesis that "all existing species are the result of the modification of pre-existing species" descending from a single "primitive stock." (61) The remarkable explanatory breadth of the Darwinian evolutionary hypothesis was, in Huxley's hands, a sign of its scientific strength.

Second, the Ur-Marcus solution to the Synoptic Problem allowed Huxley to defend the philosophical architecture of Darwin's Origin--a book that one might mistake for "a mass of facts crushed and pounded into shape, rather than held together by the ordinary medium of an obvious logical bond." (62) As we saw with Lessing, Herder, and Holtzmann, the Urevangelium hypothesis was the product of inductive reasoning. Even though there was no direct evidence for a shared literary source, these intellectuals were convinced that something like a Primal Gospel had to exist for Matthew, Mark, and Luke to display such profound grammatical and linguistic continuities. For these scholars, appealing to "divine inspiration" to account for the literary unity of form was an empty gesture. This is important to recognize because one of the persistent criticisms of Darwin's evolutionary proposal was his systematic use of inductive reasoning to fill in the evidentiary gaps and arrive at the hypothesis of common genealogical descent. Huxley, however, viewed this aspect of Darwin's case as a philosophical virtue. "There cannot be a doubt," we are told, "that the method of inquiry which Mr. Darwin has adopted is not only rigorously in accordance with the canons of scientific logic, but that it is the only adequate method." (63) From Huxley's perspective, if the natural sciences were to mature--if they were to move from "the facts with which the geological record furnishes us to those which have hitherto remained, and many of which, perhaps, may for ever remain, hidden"--there was simply no other choice but to lean on this methodological tool. (64) The appeal to an unknown and perhaps unknowable "divine plan of creation" to account for the biological unity of form that bat wings, whale flippers, and human hands all manifest could only be avoided by constructing an inductive case for evolutionary history. Given these shared philosophical characteristics and the stakes involved, it should come as little surprise that Huxley made a point to champion the biblical critics' inductive arguments for the existence of an Ur-Marcus. "Whether we agree with the conclusions of these writers or not," he noted, "the method of critical investigation they adopt is unimpeachable." (65)

By extending the discourse of natural history to include the scientific study of the Bible and religion, Huxley not only transformed a once literary enterprise into a biological one--a small-scale academic transformation that exemplified the sort of grand cultural transformation that he desired. He simultaneously appropriated the text that inspired so many of the religiously motivated creationist critics of evolutionary thought. As a result, rather than viewing biblical criticism merely as a source of antitheological weaponry, Huxley saw the Synoptic Problem as something even more curious and profound. Here was a case where the Bible itself could embody the explanatory leverage and logical rigor of Darwin's dangerous idea.

(1.) Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, 2 vols. (New York: Appleton, 1986), 1:70. It is now clear that the theological reception of Darwin's work was far more multivalent than White's metanarrative allows. See James Moore, The Post-Darwinian Controversies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979); David Livingstone, Darwin's Forgotten Defenders (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic, 1987); and Jon Roberts, Darwin and the Divine in America (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988).

(2.) James Moore, "Darwin of Down: The Evolutionist as Squarson-Naturalist," The Darwinian Heritage, ed. David Kohn (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985), 438.

(3.) See David Kohn, "Darwin's Ambiguity: The Secularization of Biological Meaning," British Journal of the History of Science 22 (1989): 215-39.

(4.) Gillian Beer, Darwin's Plots Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot, and Nineteenth-century Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 45.

(5.) Charles Darwin, The Correspondence of Charles Darwin in Thirteen Volumes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, [1860] 1993), 8:224.

(6.) Philip Sloan, "'The Sense of Sublimity': Darwin on Nature and Divinity," Science in Theistic Contexts: Cognitive Dimensions, ed. John Hedley Brooke, Margaret Osler, and Jitse M. van der Meer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 251-69.

(7.) Robert J. Richards, The Romantic Conception of Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 516; See also Richards, "Darwin's Romantic Biology: The Foundation of His Evolutionary Ethics," Biology and the Foundation of Ethics, ed. Jane Maienschein and Michael Ruse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 113-53.

(8.) For an illuminating exchange on the relative merits of what I am calling, for the sake of economy, the standard "British" and alternative "German" interpretations of Darwin's thought, see Michael Ruse, "The Romantic Conception of Robert J. Richards," Journal of the History of Biology 37 (2004): 3-23; and Robert J. Richards, "Michael Ruse's Design for Living," Journal of the History of Biology 37 (2004): 25-38.

(9.) The British historian John Hedley Brooke is perhaps the most articulate and well-known complexity theorist" when it comes to religion and science. For his most systematic treatment of these issues, see his Religion and Science: Some Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

(10.) Paul White, Thomas Huxley: Making the "Man of Science" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

(11.) Werner Kummel, The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Problems, trans. S. MacLean Gilmour and Howard Clark Lee (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1972), 75.

(12.) As quoted in Werner Kummel, The New Testament, 75.

(13.) William R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem: A Critical Review of the Literary Relationships between Matthew, Mark, and Luke (New York: MacMillan, 1964), 5.

(14.) As quoted in Henry Chadwick, "Introduction," Lessing's Theological Writings, ed. Henry Chadwick (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1957), 18.

(15.) As quoted in Werner Kummel, The New Testament, 76. Farmer is extremely skeptical about the intellectual origins of the Urevangelium concept. He writes, it is "an idea which never influenced German criticism until it entered the head of Lessing, and about which he himself wrote to his brother in a letter, 'I myself am often astonished to see how naturally everything proceeds from an observation which I found I had made, without rightly knowing how I came by it.'" In his estimation, the dubious pedigree of the idea should have been enough to warn serious scholars away. See William Farmer, The Synoptic Problem, 39.

(16.) Gotthold Lessing, "New Hypothesis Concerning the Evangelists as Merely Human Historians," Lessing's Theological Writings, ed. Henry Chadwick (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1957), 76.

(17.) Ibid., 75.

(18.) As quoted in Werner Kommel, The New Testament, 82.

(19.) A useful history regarding the thesis of Marcan priority can be found in Hans-Herbert Stoldt, History and Criticism of the Marcan Hypothesis, trans. Donald L. Niewyk (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1980).

(20.) For a recent attempt to write a comprehensive intellectual history of the Synoptic Problem, see David Laird Dungan, A History of the Synoptic Problem (New York: Doubleday, 1999).

(21.) As quoted in Werner Kummel, The New Testament, 153.

(22.) For more on the relationship between evolutionary biological thought and linguistic theory, see Liba Taub, "Evolutionary Ideas and 'Empirical' Methods: The Analogy between Language and Species in Works by Lyell and Schleicher," British Journal of the History of Science 26 (1993): 171-93; Stephen Alter, Darwinism and the Linguistic Image (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999); and Robert J. Richards, "The Linguistic Creation of Man," Experimenting in Tongues: Studies in Science and Language, ed. Matthias Dorries (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2002), 21-48.

(23.) Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 310-11. For a good discussion of Darwin's selective appropriation of Lyell's original image, see Stephen Alter, Darwinism and the Linguistic Image, 23-28. A helpful analysis of the place of linguistic metaphor in Darwin's thought can be found in Gillian Beer, "Darwin and the Growth of Language Theory," Nature Transfigured, ed. John Christie and Sally Shuttleworth (New York: Manchester University Press, 1989), 152-70.

(24.) The locus classicus for this distinction can be found in Galileo, "Letter to the Duchess Christina," The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History, ed. Maurice Finocchiaro (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 87-118. For an intriguing history of this theme in early modern thought, see Peter Harrison Protestantism, the Bible, and the Rise of Natural Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

(25.) As quoted in Martin Rudwick, "Transposed Concepts from the Human Sciences in the Early Work of Charles Lyell," Images of the Earth, ed. Ludmilla Jordanova and Roy Porter (Chalfont St. Giles, U.K.: British Society for the History of Science, 1979), 72.

(26.) Charles Lyell, The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man (Philadelphia, Penn.: George W. Childs, 1863), 458, 461-62.

(27.) For a contemporary philosophical attempt to link evolutionary biological explanations and textual hermeneutical techniques, see Daniel Dennett, "The Interpretation, of Texts, People, and Other Artifacts," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1990): 177-94.

(28.) Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, [1859] 1964), 422-23.

(29.) August Schleicher, "Darwinism Tested by the Science of Language," 41-42.

(30.) Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 484.

(31.) August Schleicher, "Darwinism Tested by the Science of Language," 36-37.

(32.) Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 490.

(33.) Letter to Thomas Huxley, 10 May 1870, in The Letters of Matthew Arnold, ed. Charles Lang, 5 vols. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1996-2001), 3:412.

(34.) Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, 2:393.

(35.) B. H. Streeter, "The Literary Evolution of the Gospels," Studies in the Synoptic Problem, ed. William Sanday (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1911), 210-27.

(36.) As quoted in William Farmer, The Synoptic Problem, 181.

(37.) For a history of the "progressive" interpretation of Darwinian evolutionary thought, see Michael Ruse, Monad to Man (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997).

(38.) It is a portrait whose details have become, quite literally, the stuff of scientific legend--as the fable of his 1860 run-in with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce demonstrates. See J. R. Lucas, "Wilberforce and Huxley: A Legendary Encounter," Historical Journal 22 (1979): 313-30.

(39.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "Origin of Species," Darwiniana (New York: Appleton, 1896), 52.

(40.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "The School Boards: What They Can Do, and What They May Do," Critiques and Addresses (Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries, 1972), 48.

(41.) See Frank Turner, "The Victorian Conflict between Science and Religion: A Professional Dimension," Isis 69 (1978): 356-76; and Adrian Desmond, Archetypes and Ancestors: Palaeontology in Victorian London, 1850-1875 (London: Blond and Briggs, 1982). A similar point might be made about Andrew Dickson White's History, which was partially inspired by his struggle to build the first nondenominational, secular university in the United States (Cornell). In both of these cases, what John Dewey says about the category of human nature in modern political thought might be applied to the concept of a war between science and religion in the modern historiography of science: "ideas put forth about the makeup of human nature, ideas supposed to be the results of psychological inquiry, have been in fact only reflections of practical measures that different groups, classes, factions wished to see continued in existence or newly adopted." See John Dewey, Freedom and Culture (New York: Prometheus, 1989), 30.

(42.) See Henry Wace, "Agnosticism: A Reply to Professor Huxley," Nineteenth Century 145 (March 1889): 354.

(43.) Of course, the sociological link between scientific truth and personal honor or virtue is far from unique to late-nineteenth-century England. Mario Biagioli argues that a similar connection existed in the seventeenth-century Italian discourse of natural philosophy, and is crucial to understanding the rise and fall of Galileo. See Biagioli, Galileo Courtier (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

(44.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "Preface," Science and Christian Tradition (London: MacMillan, 1909), xvii.

(45.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "Agnosticism," Science and Christian Tradition, 221.

(46.) Henry Wace, "Agnosticism: A Reply to Professor Huxley," Nineteenth Century, 367.

(47.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "Agnosticism: A Rejoinder," Science and Christian Tradition, 273.

(48.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "The School Boards: What They Can Do, and What They May Do," Critiques and Addresses, 51.

(49.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "The Struggle for Existence in Human Society," Evolution and Ethics (New York: Appleton, 1920), 219.

(50.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "A Liberal Education; and Where to Get It," Lectures and Lay Sermons (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1900), 58-59.

(51.) As quoted in Paul White, Thomas Huxley: Making the Man of Science, 79.

(52.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "The Evolution of Theology," Science and Hebrew Tradition (New York: Appleton, 1914), 288.

(53.) Ibid.

(54.) For more on this cross-fertilizing history of interaction, see Henry Hoeningswold and Linda Wiener, ed., Biological Metaphor and Cladistic Classification (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987).

(55.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "The Evolution of Theology," Science and Hebrew Tradition, 290.

(56.) As a case in point, Huxley concludes Evolution of Theology by suggesting that the "spread of true scientific culture" brings to an end "the evolution of theology." Thomas Henry Huxley, "The Evolution of Theology," Science and Hebrew Tradition, 372. For Huxley's apercu regarding Positivism, see his "On the Physical Basis of Life," Method and Results (New York: Appleton, 1911), 156.

(57.) See George Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (New York: The Free Press, 1987). I would like to thank an anonymous referee for urging me to situate Huxley's reflections on religion in the larger context of nineteenth-century anthropological thought.

(58.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "Preface," Science and Christian Tradition, xviii.

(59.) See Thomas Henry Huxley, "On the Method of Zadig," Science and Hebrew Tradition, 12.

(60.) Huxley used these terms to praise both Lyell and Schleicher's work on the parallels between biological evolution and language. See Thomas Henry Huxley, "Criticisms on 'Origin of Species,'" Darwiniana, 80-81.

(61.) Thomas Henry Huxley, "The Origin of Species," Darwiniana, 54.

(62.) Ibid., 25.

(63.) Ibid., 72.

(64.) See Thomas Henry Huxley, "On the Method of Zadig," Science and Hebrew Tradition, 23.

(65.) See Thomas Henry Huxley, "Agnosticism," Science and Christian Tradition, 221.

Matthew Day is an assistant professor of Religion and Science at Florida State University.
COPYRIGHT 2005 American Society of Church History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Day, Matthew
Publication:Church History
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Previous Article:"Fashions of worldly dames": separatist discourses of dress in early modern London, Amsterdam, and Plymouth Colony (1).
Next Article:Making doctors and nurses for Jesus: medical missionary stories and American Children (1).

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |