Thomas Huxley quotes


Along my wandering mind path today, I ran across Thomas Huxley quotes.  And, being me, I couldn’t help but comment on some of them.  I do not comment in any belief that they add to Huxley, but simply as thoughts I am voicing.

THIS Huxley was his era’s foremost proponent of Darwin’s theory of evolution. We have to remember that there was a time when evolution was not universally accepted by everyone except religious folks, and that IT was the upstart. It was also a time shortly after Lyell had established Uniformitarianism (gradualism) as THE reality of science – which reality is still in force today, with few exceptions. Science had only recently established an alternative to Noah’s Flood, with Louis Agassiz’s ice ages, knocking down that one last barrier to science and, in so doing, trumpeting the ultimate victory of science over religion. Before Agassiz, all the signs that are currently interpreted as evidence of ice ages were seen as evidence, instead, as proof of the Great Flood.  What God had built in 7 days Uniformitarian Nature had built in some ungodly number of eons.  Time became science’s “Deus ex machina” – the answer to all objections and solution to all problems.

So, in the early days of that victory Huxley the evolutionist was not – as would be the case today – the establishment. Some of these quotes, then, reflect that semi “outsider” status.

The quotes begin after the fold…

“The great tragedy of Science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – If it doesn’t fit, you must quit…ROFL]

“I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything…”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – Vet everything in your own mind and experience.  But still be open to anything and everything new, till it proves its lack of worth.  90% of what is thought to be real today would have been considered impossible in the not-so-distant past.  But not everything thought possible then has been proven to hold water.]

“Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads or you shall learn nothing.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – There are times one has to wait a long, long while before we “learn anything,” after realizing that what we knew wasn’t so, after all.]

“There is no greater mistake than the hasty conclusion that opinions are worthless because they are badly argued.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – This is a significant point to make in impact studies.  Morrison et al believe that because we don’t have every jot and tittle known, that his reality is correct.  But the real reality is that his arguments also have big holes in them.  If his weren’t so badly argued, we would have nothing to say.]

“The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – We are – and will be for a thousand years or more – at only some point on the continuum of learning.  Our point is no more exalted than any other.]

“To a clear eye the smallest fact is a window through which the infinite may be seen.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – At the beginning that window is only a knothole.  Those who cannot see through it might be using the wrong eye and be seeing only wood.]

“Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – This sounds like he has met the enemy…]

“If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – Oh, many’s the man who thinks he is just that one…]

“God give me strength to face a fact though it slay me.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – A good lesson for Boslough, Morrison, Pinter, et al…]

“The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all the other woes of mankind, is wisdom.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – I’ve just gone through a learning process in which I found out HOW much forward we have come in providing solutions for suffering and other woes of mankind.  Lifespans are so much longer now, prosperity is UP, all over the world, to levels I had not appreciated at all.  People’s lives are so much better than 100, 200 years ago.  No, not everywhere – but almost!  One link upon request.]

“أعمق خطايا العقل الإنساني أن يعتقد شيئاً دون أدلة”
“[It is one of the] Deepest sins of the human mind to believe something without evidence”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG -And yet, religion flourishes among those who sin thusly.]

“I suppose that, so long as the human mind exists, it will not escape its deep-seated instinct to personify its intellectual conceptions. The science of the present day is as full of this particular form of intellectual shadow-worship as is the nescience of ignorant ages. The difference is that the philosopher who is worthy of the name knows that his personified hypotheses, such as law, force and ether, and the like, are merely useful symbols, while the ignorant and the careless take them for adequate expressions of reality.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

[SMG – More information – right and wrong, and much of it pushed by those with this agenda or that – is available to more people than ever, making Goebbel’s dictum about “repeating a lie often enough” a force for creating everywhere INadequate expressions of reality among the ignorant and the careless.  I refer to Huxley’s “careless” as “sloppy thinkers.”  I do believe he and I would see eye to eye on this.  But those who are NOT sloppy thinkers DO need to be careful to realize that what we “know” IS only a clever thinking tool/symbol/connection to the next level – and at that next level it may no longer be true.]

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