Another group of educated men also opposed scientific studies—especially biology—on religious grounds. Since the appearance of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” in 1859 there had been “endless battles and skirmishes” between scientists and theologians over the doctrine of evolution. It is almost impossible for readers of this generation to realize the bitterness of the feelings aroused over this doctrine, or the violence with which, during the sixties and early seventies, evolution and its champions were attacked. To clergy and the devout laity alike it seemed to undermine theology and to sap the very foundations of Christian belief. Scientists who defended it—Huxley chief among them—were regarded as the deadly enemies of religion, as rationalists, materialists, atheists beyond redemption. Naturally, scientific studies were opposed on the ground that they were anti-religious in their effect, the breeders of atheism, and the destroyers of faith. The stormiest period of the debate had passed by 1880, but the feelings which it aroused were still strong. And, although Huxley does not directly address these opponents in “Science and Culture,” some reminiscences of the conflict may be traced in its pages.

Under these circumstances, the address was hardly the tame affair which it seems to readers of the younger generation. On the contrary, it was the challenging utterance of a champion in the warfare of science, at the crisis of the battle. 8As above suggested, the two great reforms for which Huxley contended in this address, and elsewhere, were, first, the diffusion of scientific education as a benefit to industrial workers and an aid to the industries themselves; second, the revision of the program of liberal studies to include modern studies, especially the natural sciences, as well as the traditional Latin and Greek. Thus he confronted two of the three groups of opponents of scientific studies—the practical men of business, and the men of liberal culture.

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