Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest

Article excerpt

Adrian Desmond. Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest. Reading, Massachusetts. Addison-Wesley, 1997.

He was Darwin's biggest booster, tantalizing and tormenting the public with talk of ape ancestors. He coined the term "agnostic" (1869) and elevated the status of the scientist at the expense of the clergy. His last pupil, the famous writer H. G. Wells, said that he provided "beyond question, the most educational year of my life." He was the English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) who, according to Adrian Desmond, was the devil's disciple to Charles Darwin (considered a devil by many of his contemporaries because of his theory of evolution).

Huxley is a "contextual biography" that examines science in the context of its time. It looks at evolution's use in order to understand the class, religious, and political interests of the nineteenth century. For much of that time the intellectual world was based on the "character-forming" disciplines of Classics and Theology. …