The Lights of the Church and the Light of Science
- The Lights of the Church and the Light of Science
By T. H. Huxley
At the present time it is difficult to persuade serious scientific inquirers to occupy themselves, in any way, with the Noachian Deluge. They look at you with a smile and a shrug, and say they have more important matters to attend to than mere antiquarianism. But it was not so in my youth. At that time, geologists and biologists could hardly follow to the end any path of inquiry without finding the way blocked by Noah and his ark, or by the first chapter of Genesis; and it was a serious matter, in this country at any rate, for a man to be suspected of doubting the literal truth of the diluvial or any other Pentateuchal history. The fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Geological Club in 1825 was, if I remember rightly, the last occasion on which the late Sir Charles Lyell spoke to even so small a public as the members of that body. Our veteran leader lighted up once more, and, referring to the difficulties which beset his early efforts to create a rational science of geology, spoke with his wonted clearness and vigor of the social ostracism which pursued him after the publication of the Principles of Geology, in 1830, on account of the obvious tendency of that noble work to discredit the Pentateuchal accounts of the creation and the deluge. If my younger contemporaries find this hard to believe, I may refer them to a grave book, On the Doctrine of the Deluge, published eight years later, and dedicated by its author to his father, the then Archbishop of York.
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Popular Science Monthly; Volume 37; September 1890