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Ernst Haeckel  Judith Hooper  Fred Hoyle  Thomas Huxley  

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Ernst Haeckel  (1834 - 1919)  Professor of Comparative Anatomy  Web  GBS  Amazon  Illustrations  Medal

I was not in agreement with the main theses of that sermon, in which he tried mathematically to prove the existence of God, because in this I hold quite the same conviction as you, dear father, have expressed to me, namely, that this cannot be perceived with our restricted human understanding, but that faith is absolutely necessary for this.    letter to parents  February 8 1853

But what shall we say when we read passages like this: "The progressive expansion of Christianity has killed every science, but above all natural philosophy, which necessarily had to oppose it in a hostile manner!" Or, when the author speaks of the childish fairy tale of Christianity, etc. At first it made me angry; but it is really not worth that; in fact, one can only be sorry for him.    letter to parents  May 14 1853

Quite involuntarily at every step one is overpowered with astonishment at and admiration for the divine omnipotence and loving-kindness, and I cannot understand how it is that just those very people who occupy themselves with these wondrous miracles and search into their details can doubt and even deny the creative, all-wise power of the divinity.    letter to parents  June 1 1853

There is one matter that now occupies me a great deal, and the more I try to discover light ant truth in it all, the more dark and confused it appears to me. It is the relation of our modern science, the most ardent apostle of which it is my greatest pride to consider myself, to Christianity on the one hand and materialism on the other. The farther that research penetrates, the clearer and simpler the general natural laws develop and can be reduced more and more to purely mechanical conditions and, finally, at last, to mathematical formulae (which, after all, is contemplated to be the highest aim also in in organic natural science), all the nearer lies the thought and all the greater grows the temptation also to see the last cause of all things in such a mechanical, blind, unconscious, natural law which knows no exception, ant to extract all the consequences which modern materialism deduces from it. ... And do we not daily see that the greatest heroes and the leading lights of our modern natural science lose their way in this labyrinth, succumb in this struggle and finally take their refuge in the purest most overt materialism as the only means of salvation? The Vogt-Wagner quarrel, about which in the course of barely a year a whole library has already been written, is a speaking witness to this!  ... It is the point where knowledge ceases and where faith, which they would so much like completely to deny and abolish, begins. And yet this faith, which has found in Christianity its most complete and truest expression, is the only anchor of salvation for the soul, which seeks in vain for other comfort and other satisfaction. Also I myself can only find comfort and peace in this Christian belief, which is contemplated by so many and such important minds to be mere ridiculous foolishness, by my admitting this life of faith as a sphere quite apart from the life of knowledge and understanding based on the evidence of our five senses, which is not only possible side by side with it but also necessary, just as justified and even infinity more important.    letter to parents  February 1 1856

I must confess that the capacities of the preachers here are in my opinion far from satisfactory. Putting aside the fact that the Divine Service here is already inclining very much toward that of the Catholics, which, if possible, is probably still more despised by me than by yourself, dearest mother, the dogmatic-orthodox standpoint, which is universally accepted here and which affronts our natural science convictions based on facts, also, necessarily, cannot be very agreeable to myself.    letter to parents  May 20 1856

That the question is of an idea that modifies the whole conception of the universe those of you not yet acquainted with the tenor of the Darwinian account of that universe will see at once, if you listen to the principles thereof, as embodied in the following words: "All the different animals and plants living today, and all the organisms that have ever lived on the earth, have not been created separately, each after its kind, as we have been wont to believe from our youth, but have gradually developed in all their manifold forms and varieties in the course of many millions of years from a few, perhaps from one single primordial form of the very simplest nature."    "On the Darwinian Theory"  September 19 1863

Your letter has given me great pleasure. It has also provided me opportunity and personally the decided honor, Sir, to express the extraordinary esteem I have for the discovery of the "Struggle for Life" and "Natural selection." Of all the books that I have read, none has made so powerful and marked an impression on me as your theory of the origin of species. In this book I find at once the harmonious solution to all the fundamental problems of which I have labored for an explanation since the time I had learned to know nature in her authentic state. Since then I have studied your theory -- I say without exaggeration -- daily, and whether I study the life of man, animals or plants, I find your descent theory the satisfactory answer to all my questions no matter how difficult... I have been busy for several years preparing a general natural history, in which I show how your theory illuminates every area of that history and how that theory produces a harmonious integration of the whole. I hope to finish this book next winter.    letter to Charles Darwin  July 7 1864

The trumpet of this gigantic spiritual warfare marks the dawn of a new day and the end of the long darkness of the Middle Ages. For modern civilization, in spite of the progress of culture, lies bound in the fetters of the hierarchy of the Middle Ages; and social and civil life is ruled, not by the science of truth, but by the faith of the church. We need but mention the mighty influence which irrational dogmas still exercise on the elementary education of our youth, we need but mention that the state yet permits the existence of cloisters and of celibacy, the most immoral and baneful ordinance of the “only-saving” church; we need but mention that the civilized state yet divides the most important parts of the civil year in accordance with church festivals; that in many countries it allows the public order to be disturbed by church processions, and so on. We do indeed now enjoy the unusual pleasure of seeing “most Christian bishops” and Jesuits exiled and imprisoned for there disobedience to the laws of the state. But this same state, till very recently, harboured and cherished these most dangerous enemies of reason.

In this mighty “war of culture,” affecting as it does the whole history of the World, and in which we may well deem it an honour to take part, no better ally that Anthropogeny can, it seems to me, be brought to the assistance of struggling truth. The history of evolution is the heavy artillery in the struggle for truth.     The Evolution of Man v.1  (1892)  p.xxii-xxiii

The natural phenomena of the evolutionary history of man claim an entirely peculiar place in the wide range of the scientific study of nature. There is surely no subject of scientific investigation touching man more closely, or in the knowledge of which he is more deeply concerned, than the human organism itself; and of all the various branches of the science of man, or anthropology, the history of his natural evolution should excite his highest interest. For it affords a key for the solution of the greatest of those problems at which human science is striving. The greatest problems with which human science is occupied – the inquiry into the true nature of man, or, as it is called, the question of “Man’s Place in Nature,” which deals with the past and primitive history, the present condition, and the future of Man – are all most directly and intimately linked to this branch of scientific research, which is called The History of the Evolution of Man.    The Evolution of Man v.1  (1892)  p.2

This "divine spark" is usually understood to be "reason," and is ascribed to man as a mental function distinguishing him from all "irrational animals." Comparative psychology, however, teaches that this frontier-post between man and beast is altogether untenable. We must either take the idea of reason in its broader sense, in which case it belongs to the higher Mammals (the Ape, Dog, Elephant, Horse), as much as to the majority of men; or we must conceive it in its narrower sense, and then it is lacking in the majority of men, as well as in most animals.    The Evolution of Man v.2  (1892)  p.453

The origin of the first Monera by spontaneous generation appears to us as a simple and necessary event in the process of the development of the earth. We admit that this process, as long as it is not directly observed or repeated by experiment, remains a pure hypothesis. But I must again say that this hypothesis is indispensable for the consistent completion of the non-miraculous history of creation, that it has absolutely nothing forced or miraculous about it, and that certainly it can never be positively refuted. It must also be taken into consideration that the process of spontaneous generation, even if it still took place daily and hourly, would in any case be exceedingly difficult to observe and establish with absolute certainty as such. This is also the opinion of Naegeli, the ingenious investigator, and he, in his admirable chapter on Spontaneous Generation, maintains that "to deny spontaneous generation is to proclaim miracles."    The History of Creation v.1  (1892)  p.422

The Caucasian, or Mediterranean man (Homo Mediterraneus), has from time immemorial been placed as the head of all races of men, as the most highly developed and perfect.    The History of Creation v.2  (1892)  p.429  

In order to be convinced of this important result, it is above all things necessary to study and compare the mental life of wild savages and of children. At the lowest stage of human mental development are the Australians, some tribes of the Polynesians, and the Bushmen, Hottentots, and some of the Negro tribes.    The History of Creation v.2  (1892)  pp.489-490

In many of these languages there are numerals only for one, two, and three: no Australian language counts beyond four.  Very many wild tribes can count no further than ten or twenty, whereas some very clever dogs have been made to count up to forty and even beyond sixty.    The History of Creation v.2  (1892)  p.490

The Monistic religion of Nature, which, accordingly, we must consider as the true "religion of the Future," will not, like all Church religions, stand opposed to the rational knowledge of nature, but in perfect harmony with it. And whereas Church religions are founded on deception and superstition, the religion of Nature will be based upon truth and knowledge.    The History of Creation v.2  (1892)  p.498

The difference between the reason of a Goethe, a Kant, a Lamarck, or a Darwin, and that of the lowest savage, a Vedda, an Akka, a native Australian, or a Patagonian, is much greater than the graduated difference between the reason of the latter and the most "rational" mammals, the anthropoid apes, or even the papiomorpha, the dog, or the elephant.    The Riddle of the Universe  (1900)  p.125

The value of the life of these lower savages is like that of the anthropoid apes, or very little higher. All recent travelers who have carefully observed them in their native lands, and studied their bodily structure and psychic life, agree in this opinion.    The Wonders of Life  (1904)  p.393

Though the great differences in the mental life and the civilisation of the higher and lower races are generally known, they are, as a rule, under-valued, and so the value of life at the different levels is falsely estimated. It is civilisation, and the fuller development of the mind that makes civilisation possible, that raise mans so much above the other animals, even his nearest animal relatives, the mammals. But this is, as a rule, peculiar to the higher races, and is found only in a very imperfect form or not at all among the lower. These lower races (such as the Veddahs or Austrailan negroes) are psychologically nearer to the mammals (apes or dogs) than to civilised Europeans; we must, therefore, assign a totally different value to their lives.    The Wonders of Life  (1904)  p.406

The gulf between this thoughtful mind of civilised man and the thoughtless animal soul of the savage is enormous -- greater than the gulf that separates the latter from the soul of the dog.    The Wonders of Life  (1904)  p.407

Our personal life is a hundred times finer, longer, and more valuable than that of the savage, because it is a hundred times richer in interests, experiences, and pleasures.    The Wonders of Life  (1904)  p.409

Our concern is rather with the unparalleled influence that Darwinism, and its application to man, have had during the last forty years on the whole province of science; and at the same time, with its irreconcilable opposition to the dogmas of the Churches.    Last Words on Evolution  (1920)  p.36

It was obvious that both the general theory of evolution and its extension to man in particular must meet from the first with the most determined resistance on the part of the Churches. Both were in flagrant contradiction to the Mosaic story of creation, and other Biblical dogmas that were involved in it, and are still taught in our elementary schools. It is creditable to the shrewdness of the theologians and their associates, the metaphysicians, that they at once rejected Darwinism, and made a particularly energetic resistance in their writings to its chief consequence, the descent of man from ape. This resistance seemed the more justified and hopeful as, for seven or eight years after Darwin's appearance, few biologists accepted his theory, and the general attitude amongst them was one of cold skepticism.    Last Words on Evolution  (1920)  pp.38-39

Our science of evolution won its greatest triumph when, at the beginning of the twentieth century, its most powerful opponents, the Churches, became reconciled to it , and endeavored to bring their dogmas into line with it.    Last Words on Evolution  (1920)  p.55


J.B.S. Haldane  (1892-1964)  Professor of Biometry at University College, London  Web  Amazon  GBS

If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.     Possible Worlds   (1928)  p.220

Freud’s principle is to let in light and air into these cupboards, which is only possible if we cease to be ashamed of our skeletons.

For example, I should derive considerable satisfaction from bashing in other people’s faces with a spanner. When I got the opportunity of killing other people during the war I enjoyed it very much, though it is now more fashionable to say that one hated every moment of it. If I were ashamed of that particular skeleton (which is really a quite respectable relic of primitive man) I should hide my real motive from myself, invent excellent moral reasons for violence, and go forth in holy anger and pious grief to smite the wicked, or at least encourage others to do so.    The Inequality of Man  (1932)  p.251

I am not only a materialist myself, but I do what I can to make other people materialists.    "Why I am a Materialist"  Rationalist Annual 1940

It would be fatal to think of the man of the future as one who would fit into contemporary American, British, Russian, or Chinese society, or into any society which we can even imagine today.

If I am right he would probably be regarded as a physical, mental, and moral defective… In his own society he would be a good citizen in ours perhaps a criminal or a lunatic.    Everything has a History  (1951)  287-8


Adolf Hitler  (1889 – 1945)

Decisive is the power that the peoples have within them; it turns out that the stronger before God and the world has the right to impose its will. From history one sees that the right by itself is completely useless, if a mighty power does not stand behind it. Right alone is of no use to whomever does not have the power to impose his right. The strong has always triumphed… All of nature is a constant struggle between power and weakness, a constant triumph of the strong over the weak.    Speech  April 13, 1923

The differences between the individual races, both in part externally and, of course, also in their inner natures, can be quite enormous and in fact are so. The gulf between the lowest creature which can still be styled man and our highest races is greater than that between the lowest type of man and the highest ape.    Nuremberg Speech  September 1933

If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.     Mein Kampf  (1939)  p.240

The present teaching in schools permits the following absurdity: at 10 a.m. the pupils attend a lesson in the catechism, at which the creation of the world is presented to them in accordance with the teachings of the Bible; and at 11 a.m. they attend a lesson in natural science, at which they are taught the theory of evolution. Yet the two doctrines are in complete contradiction. As a child, I suffered from this contradiction, and ran my head against a wall. Often I complained to one or another of my teachers against what I had been taught an hour before -- and I remember I drove them to despair.    Hitler's Secret Conversations  October 24, 1941

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Ernst Haeckel  Judith Hooper  Fred Hoyle  Thomas Huxley  

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