Darwinism in the Press: The Evolution of an Idea

By Edward Caudill | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
INITIAL SHOCK: PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES, 1860

In June 1860, at a mid-week meeting of the British Associations in Oxford, Richard Owen, the greatest anatomist of his time and an anti-evolutionist, restated his opinions about the differences between man and other animals. Thomas Huxley, then a young professor of paleontology, rose and gave "direct and unqualified contradiction" to Owen and promised to provide the denial in print later. 1 The gauntlet was cast.

Huxley was on his way to becoming a scientist celebrity as he gained fame in Europe and America as a bold advocate of evolution. Personal flair and an unqualified defense of Darwin's radical theory made Huxley good news copy. He was eloquent, dramatic, and different.

Huxley was on the Association's Saturday program with Bishop Wilberforce of Oxford, a man whose reputation as an orator gave the young scientist second thoughts about taking part in the program. The men personified their vocations, science and theology, and symbolized what many people saw as growing antagonism between the two. By Friday, rumors were flying about the next day's inevitable clash of Darwinians and anti-Darwinians. Naturally, Darwin was not physically up to attending the convention. Owen primed Wilberforce on the weaknesses of evolutionary theory.

At the Saturday meeting, Wilberforce spoke first. The orator was carrying the audience of scientists along with him by virtue of his wit, sarcasm, joviality, and confidence, though Huxley could see that the bishop knew little

-17-

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Darwinism in the Press: The Evolution of an Idea
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Notes xvi
  • Chapter 1 - Darwin and Evolution 1
  • Notes 14
  • Chapter 2 - Initial Shock: Publication Of the Origin Of Species, 1860 17
  • Notes 32
  • Chapter 3 - From Blasphemy To Gospel: The Evolution Debate In American Magazines, 1857-1887 34
  • Notes 47
  • Chapter 4 - E.L. Godkin and The New Science of Society 52
  • Notes 65
  • Chapter 5 - Racism and Darwinism 70
  • Notes 88
  • Chapter 6 - The Scopes Trial: The Press Confirms Empiricism 94
  • Notes 111
  • Chapter 7 - Creationism and The Continuing Conflict 114
  • Notes 129
  • Chapter 8 - Darwin Ism, the Press, And Ideas 133
  • Notes 143
  • Bibliography 145
  • Author Index 155
  • Subject Index 159
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