A Distinction That Must Be Made
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<Untitled> (Alfred R. Wallace says)
Huxley and Slade: Who is More Guilty of "False Pretences"?
To the Editor of the Banner of Light:
Sir,—As I see the issue that has been raised by Dr. Hallock with Mr. Huxley, it suggests to me the comparison of two men looking at the same distant object through a telescope. The Doctor, having taken the usual precautions, brings the object within close range where it can be studied at one’s leisure; but the naturalist, having forgotten to remove the cap, sees only the reflection of his own image.
Though the materialists may find it hard to answer even the brief criticisms of the Doctor, yet it appears that Mr. Huxley’s New York lectures- as they present themselves to me in their naked desolation—suggest one paramount idea which Dr. Hallock has not touched upon. I need scarcely say to you, who must have read the report of these would-be iconoclastic lectures, that this idea is one of the “false pretenses” of modern science. After all the flourish which attended his coming, all the expectations that had been aroused, all the secret apprehensions of the church and the anticipated triumph of the materialists, what did he teach us that was really new or so extremely suggestive? Nothing, positively nothing. Exclude a sight of his personality, the sound of his well-trained voice, the reflection of his scientific glory, and the result may be summed up thus: “Cr.: Thomas H. Huxley, £1,000.”
Of him it may be said, as it has of other teachers before, that what he said that was new was not true; and that which was true was not new. Without going into details, for the moment it suffices to say that the materialistic theory of evolution is far from being demonstrated, while the thought that Mr. Huxley does not grasp—i.e., the double evolution of spirit and matter—is imparted under the form of various legends in the oldest parts of the Rig-Veda (the Aitareya-Brâhmana). Only the benighted Hindus, it seems, made the trifling improvement over modern science, of hooking a First Cause on the further end of the chain of evolution.
In the Chaturhôtri Mantra (Book V, ch. iv, § 23, of the Aitareya-Brâhmana ) the Goddess Earth (iyam), who is termed the Queen of the Serpents (sarpa-râjñî), for she is the mother of everything that moves (sarpat), was in the beginning of time completely bald. She was nothing but one round head, which was soft to the touch (i.e., a “gelatinous mass”). Being distressed at her baldness, she called for help to the great Vâyu, the Lord of the airy regions; she prayed him to teach her the Mantra (invocation or sacrificial prayer, a certain part of the Veda), which would confer on her the magical power of creating things (generation). He complied, and then as soon as the Mantra was pronounced by her “in the proper metre” she found herself covered with hair (vegetation). She was now hard to the touch, for the Lord of the air had breathed upon her—(the globe had cooled) . She had become of a variegated or motley appearance, and suddenly acquired the power <... continues on page 1-188 >