The Julian Huxley Lie
“Sir Julian Huxley, one of the worldʼs leading evolutionists, head of UNESCO, descendant of Thomas Huxley — Darwinʼs bulldog — said on a talk show, ‘I suppose the reason we leaped at The Origin of Species was because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.’ (Henry M. Morris, The Troubled Waters of Evolution, Creation-Life Publishers, 1974, p. 58).”
— D. James Kennedy, Why I Believe, originally published 1980 (revised in 1999)
Comment: The reference that Kennedy pointed to in Morrisʼ book does not refer to “Julian” at all, but instead refers to his grandfather, “Thomas Henry Huxley,” and it has nothing to do with “sexual mores,” for it states, “He [Thomas Henry Huxley] had a work to do in England, a messianic purpose, and he dedicated to that purpose his tireless energy and his vast resources of knowledge and ability. And he did attain the success his heart desired, for Huxley was recognized as a prophet in his own country.”
[Scientific Monthly, April, 1957, p.172 in an article on “Thomas Henry Huxley” by Charles S. Blinderman]
Seeking the Source of the “Julian Huxley” Quotation
Kennedyʼs organization, “Creation Studies” (firstname.lastname@example.org), could not tell me which talk show, nor what year Julian Huxley uttered the quotation above. Instead, they piled lie upon lie and told me:
“That is not a lone opinion. Aldous Huxley, one of the great agnostic evolutionists of the twentieth century, said the same thing. He believed in the meaninglessness of the world, which Darwin taught, because, he said, ‘We objected to morality, because it interfered with our sexual freedom.’”
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do… For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”
— Aldous Huxley, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspective on the News, Vol. 3, June, 1966, p.19. [Grandson of evolutionist Thomas Huxley, Aldous Huxley was one of the most influential writers and philosophers of the 20th century.]
The Inadequacy Of The Reply Above
Not only did “Creation Studies” fail to substantiate what the name of the alleged “talk show” was, nor the year it aired, but they added the lie that “Aldous Huxley said the same thing.” (He did not say “the same thing,” far from it, as I shall show below, based on reading the Aldous Huxley quotation in context.)
A Substantiated Remark from Julian Huxley on the Reason Why Darwinʼs Theory Gained Ground
Julian Huxley wrote and spoke a lot about the reasons why Darwinʼs theory gained ground in its day, but is never recorded as saying that people “leapt at Darwinʼs theory,” rather, it took twenty years before it gained widespread approval among scientists. Furthermore, Julian Huxley explained the reason for the success of Darwinʼs theory in words that are fully substantiated in numerous places in his writings, and he never once mentioned “sexual mores.” Below is part of a transcript of a TV interview with Julian Huxley that Dr. Kennedy apparently missed:
Julian Huxley: The theory of evolution was in the air… Asa Gray had got halfway; Lyell, a third of the way. It would have been formulated well before the end of the 1800s even if Darwin had died. [Alfred Russel Wallace arrived at nearly identical conclusions to Darwin and they presented their paper jointly to the Royal Society. — E.T.B.] But it would not have happened in the same decisive way [not without Darwin]. Darwin not only had this brilliant inspiration of natural selection but also collected a great volume of facts to buttress the idea of ‘transformation’ — which was what evolution was then generally called. [Keep in mind that back then, many scientists continued to resist the idea that a single species, any species, might “tranform” into a near identical species with uniquely different habits or diets. Tough crowd Iʼd say. — E.T.B.] And Darwin did what Wallace did not even try to do until much later: he deduced many consequences from the principle of natural selection, which you can still read with profit today…
Darwin [actor playing the role]: But the majority of scientists took twenty years after the book appeared before they accepted evolution…
Huxley: But the people who mattered did accept it immediately.
— Julian Huxley, “‘At Random’: A Television Preview” (transcript of a TV show aired on WBBM-TV, CBS, Chicago, on the evening of Nov. 21, 1959, just prior to Darwinʼs Centennial Celebration, where Julian was the key speaker), published in Issues in Evolution, Vol. III: The University of Chicago Centennial Discussions (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1960), p. 63
Julian Huxleyʼs Personal “Sexual Mores”
And speaking of Julianʼs personal “sexual mores,” admittedly they were not perfect, but they functioned well enough to enable him to enjoy his Golden Wedding anniversary:
“In March 1969, Juliette and I celebrated our Golden Wedding anniversary. As a venue appropriate for this special Rite de Passage of ours, we chose the Fellowsʼ Restaurant at the Zoo and gave a party to as many of our friends as it could accommodate. It was a good party. Sir John Redcliffe-Maud gave one of his inimitable speeches and made us all laugh with his wit and audacious imitations. Lord Haloford, an old friend, bravely overcame a bad tooth-ache to second a vote of congratulations, which he did splendidly. Juliette and I moved in a euphoric dream, not quite believing that it was really ourselves who had worked our way through fifty years of married life, and were being feted by our many wonderful friends.
“We both resisted answering questions by reporters as to what we really though of such enduring marriage. Marriage poses as many problems as it solves: indeed, the flavor and essence of long-lasting marriage cannot be put into words.
“Probably, busy as I was with my many avocations, I took less account of the problems and adjustments involved; Juliette had to make the relevant adaptions and for this I give her every credit. She sometimes teases me by saying that had she known what she was in for when she accepted my proposal, she would have run for miles. But she willingly admits that, whatever the inevitable squalls we suffered, we have led a tremendously interesting life together, involving a great variety of experience with our different but complementary awarenesses.
“Perhaps the key to a good marriage is acceptance, which in its turn creates a capacity both for independent growth and for joint perception. One might say that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ marriage. But I can certainly affirm that our marriage has been fruitful and sustaining. How fortunate I was to be accepted by the lovely girl from Neuchatel whom I met at Garsington, fifty-three years ago — a girl who has retained her freshness in her maturity; a woman with many interests and a rare capacity for making friends and for enriching our joint existence!”
— Sir Julian Huxley, Memories II (New York: Harper and Row, 1973) p. 245-246
Seeking The Source Of The Aldous Huxley Quotation
Kennedyʼs “Creation Studies” organization, told me that the Aldous Huxley quotation came from an article titled, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist” published in Report: Perspective on the News, Vol. 3, June, 1966, p.19.
I have since discovered that the title of the journal was Report: News of the Month in Perspective, a somewhat conservative news-digest, and the Aldous Huxley quotation indeed lay on page 19 of the June 1966 issue, and there are words above the Huxley paragraph that the editor undoubtedly added (since Aldous Huxley had died three years earlier) that read, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist.” But that single paragraph by Aldous Huxley was merely part of a much longer article that stretched from pages 16 to 20, titled, “An Interview with God” by Dennis Helming.
Is it Possible that a lapse in Kennedyʼs Memory is to Blame for him Falsely Attributing the “Sexual Mores” Quotation to “Julian Huxley?”
Is it possible that Kennedy read Dennis Helmingʼs article, “Interview with God,” or a reprint of the article, or a reprint of just the page with Aldousʼs paragraph on it, and it stuck in Kennedyʼs mind that “Huxley” had mentioned that “we objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom?” If Kennedy read the quotation in Helmingʼs “Interview with God,” then the word, “interview,” might have stuck in Kennedyʼs mind, leaving him with the lasting impression that the quote was “said” in an “interview.” Kennedy may even have seen Julian Huxley on a “talk show” speaking of Darwinʼs “Origin,” but Kennedy might have later combined his memories of that paragraph by one “Huxley” with his memories of seeing the other “Huxley” on TV. The time needed for Kennedy to blend these two things together in his memory is also there since Aldous died in 1963 and Julian died in 1975, while Kennedy (so far as I have been able to determine) began promoting the story of “Julianʼs talk show remark” in 1980 in a book that was published seventeen years after Aldous had died and five years after Julian had died. So the possibily exists that Kennedyʼs memory might be to blame for the mix up.
Neither the “Institute for Creation Research,” nor, “Answers in Genesis” have posted Kennedyʼs “Julian” remark on their websites. However, they do quote the remark by Aldous Huxley: “We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.” Perhaps “ICR” and “AiG” have their own doubts concerning Kennedyʼs unsubstantiated memory? The fact remains that 24 years have passed since Kennedy began promoting the “Julian” remark in print, and no one else has stepped forth to substantiate Kennedyʼs memory. No one has found any newsman of Julianʼs era, nor biographers of Julian, mentioning such a remark. Kennedy remains the only person on record who claims to have heard “Julian” say it. So it would appear that Aldous is the main suspect. His quotation is the only one that has been substantiated. Though Aldousʼs remark does not even mean what Kennedy says it does, as we will see below!
Further Failed Searches for the Source of Kennedyʼs “Julian” Quotation
Six years after Dr. Kennedy introduced the “Julian Huxley” quotation into his books and sermons, it popped up, unsubstantiated and unreferenced, in a book written by another “doctor,” Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer (Senior Pastor of The Moody Church, and host of “Moody Church Hour”):
“Julian Huxley was once on a television program in which he responded to the question of why evolution was so readily accepted. He admitted, ‘The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because we didnʼt want God to interfere with our sexual mores.’”
— Dr. Lutzer, Erwin W., Exploding The Myths That Could Destroy America (Chicago : Moody Press, 1986)
Lutzer never claimed he personally heard Julian utter such a remark, and a friend I know emailed Dr. Lutzer at The Moody Church, asking him to please substantiate the quotation, and the Media Call Supervisor at the Moody Church, Joshua Hall (email@example.com), responded: “I just Googled the actual quote and found out that it was actually Sir Julian Huxleyʼs brother, Aldous Huxley, who was an author.” [Email sent to Julie Johnson from Joshua Hall, Wed., Nov. 12, 2003 5:18 PM] At least the Media Call Supervisor at Lutzerʼs church had the humility to suggest that Lutzer had made an error in attributing it to “Julian Huxley,” which is more than what Kennedyʼs “Creation Studies” organization keeps doing. Since Lutzer repeated the “Julian” remark six years after Kennedy first wrote about it, Lutzer probably lifted it from one of Kennedyʼs writings or sermons, or it was shared with him by some Christian friends who were repeating the unsubstantiated remark.
Kennedyʼs “Julian” Quotation has Mutated!
Speaking of repeating unsubstantiated remarks, Christian internet sites are known for granting miraculous “angelʼs wings” to any and all remarks that may prove useful in their battle to embarrass the enemies of their sacred faith. And Kennedyʼs “Julian” remark has not only proven useful, but it has undergone a few mutations:
Mutation #1) One person on the internet has been bold (or foolish) enough to supply a date for the quotation: “FloridaFormula5” (an Evangelical Christian) wrote in the blob of Gloria Brame on April 3, 2004 that “Sir Julian Huxley said it best in a 1973 public television interview…” I wrote “FloridaFomula5” three times to find out where he came up with the date “1973,” which was more than Kennedy was able to do in his books or sermons over the past 24 years. “FloridaFormula5” has not responded.
Mutation #2) Kennedyʼs unsubstantiated “Julian” quotation has become fused with two substantiated quotations! Fusion has taken place!
“The concept of a Creator-God interferes with our sexual mores. Thus, we have rationalized God out of existence. To us, He has become nothing more than the faint and disappearing smile of the cosmic Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.”
— Guest Feature Article At Chuck Colsonʼs “Prison Fellowship” website (pfm.org), “The Double Helix Meets the Bacterial Flagellum: An Argument for Intelligent Design” by Al Dobras, August 25, 2003
“It is because the concept of a Creator-God interfers with our sexual mores. Thus, we have rationalized God out of existence. To us, He has become nothing more than the faint and disappearing smile of the cosmic Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.”
— “Quotations on Evolution,” Haven Free Will Baptist Church (havenfwbchurch.org)
The first half of the quotations above were apparently derived from Kennedyʼs “Julian” remark and remain unsubstantiated. Meanwhile, the latter half of the quotations come from the following two remarks by Julian Huxley:
“Darwinism removed the whole idea of God as the creator from the sphere of rational discussion.”
— Julian Huxley, “‘At Random’: A Television Preview” (transcript of a TV show aired on WBBM-TV, CBS, Chicago, on the evening of Nov. 21, 1959, just prior to Darwinʼs Centennial Celebration, where Julian was the key speaker), published in Issues in Evolution, Vol. III: The University of Chicago Centennial Discussions (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1960), p. 45
“The god hypothesis is no longer of any pragmatic value for the interpretation or comprehension of nature, and indeed often stands in the way of better and truer interpretation. Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler, but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire Cat.”
— Julian Huxley, Religion Without Revelation (London: Max Parrish, 1957), p. 58
Having read the two articles where the two substantied quotations were found, I was unable to discover Kennedyʼs “Julian” quotation in either of those two articles.
What did Aldous Huxley really say and teach about “the Philosophy of Meaninglessness” and “Sexual Mores?”
As mentioned above, a conservative editor in 1966 printed a paragraph from Aldous Huxley on “the philosophy of meaninglessness” and “sexual mores,” and added a title above the paragraph that read, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist.” But what the editor failed to reveal to his readers was that Aldous was not an “atheist” when he wrote that paragraph, but was arguing against “atheism.” The paragraph itself was taken from Aldous Huxleyʼs book, Ends and Means, written in 1937 (chapter 14, the chapter on “Beliefs”), and he was not speaking about why people in Darwinʼs day “leaped at the Origin,” but speaking about the rise of the “philosophy of meaninglessness” and materialism among the “masses” after the First World War, the generation of the 1920s. And speaking of Aldousʼs generation in the 1920s and 30ʼs, John Derbyshire wrote:
“The second and third decades of the twentieth century were notoriously an age of failed gods and shattered conventions, to which many thoughtful people responded in obvious ways, retreating into nihilism, hedonism, and experimentalism. Literature became subjective, art became abstract, poetry abandoned its traditional forms. In the ‘low, dishonest decade’ that then followed, much of this negativism curdled into power-worship and escapism of various kinds. Aldous Huxley stood aside from these large general trends. Though no Victorian in habits or beliefs, he never entered whole-heartedly into the spirit of modernism. The evidence is all over the early volumes of these essays. James Joyceʼs ground breaking novel, Ulysses, he declares in 1925, is ‘one of the dullest books ever written,and one of the least significant.’ Jazz, he remarks two years later, is ‘drearily barbaric.’ Writing of Sir Christopher Wren in 1923, he quotes with approval Carlyleʼs remark that Chelsea Hospital, one of Wrenʼs creations, was ‘obviously the work of a gentleman.’ Wren, Huxley goes on to say, was indeed a great gentleman, ‘one who valued dignity and restraint and who, respecting himself, respected also humanity.’ In his thirties, in fact, Huxley comes across as something of a Young Fogey.”
— John Derbyshire, “What Happened to Aldous Huxley,” The New Criterion Vol. 21, No. 6 (February 2003)
In another chapter of Ends and Means (chapter 15, “Ethics”) Aldous, the “Young Fogey,” abhorred “sexual addictions,” or using sex as a means to achieving base ends. And Aldousʼ chapters on “Religious Practices,” “Beliefs,” and “Ethics” argued in favor of a meaningful cosmos and a universal spirituality that Aldous said was reflected in the works of certain Eastern mystics as well as some famous Christian mystics. Below is a series of quotations demonstrating what I have said above, all taken from Aldous Huxleyʼs Ends and Means: An Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into the Methods Employed for Their Realization (Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York and London, 1937, fifth edition).
Aldous Huxley Rebutts the “Philosophy of Meaninglessness”
“From the world we actually live in, the world that is given by our senses, our intuitions of beauty and goodness, our emotions and impulses, our moods and sentiments, the man of science abstracts a simplified private universe of things possessing only… elements which can be weighed, measured, numbered, or which lend themselves in any other way to mathematical treatment. By using this technique of simplification and abstraction, the scientist has succeeded to an astonishing degree in understanding and dominating the physical environment. The success was intoxicating and, with an illogicality which, in the circmstances, was doubtless pardonable, many scientists and philosophers came to imagine that this useful abstraction from reality was reality itself. Reality as actually experienced contains intuitions of value and significance, contain love, beauty, mystical ecstasy, intimations of godhead. Science did not and still does not possess intellectual instruments with which to deal with thses aspects of reality. Consquently it ignored them and concentrated its attention upon such aspects of the world as it could deal with by mean of arithmetic, geometry and the various branches of higher mathematics. Our conviction that the world is meaningless lend itself very effectively to furthering the ends of erotic or political passion; in part to a genuine intellectual error — the error of identifying the world of science, a world from which all meaning and value has been deliberately excluded, with ultimate reality.
“[The philosopher, Humeʼs, erroneous attitude was typical] Hume wrote, ‘If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstracts reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact or evidence? No. Commit it then to the flame; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.’ Hume mentions only divinity and school metaphysics; but his argument would apply just as cogently to poetry, music, painting, sculpture and all ethical and religious teaching. Hamlet contains no abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number and no experimental reason concerning evidence; nor does the Hamerklavier Sonata, nor Donatelloʼs David, nor the Tao Te Ching [book of Chinese philosophy and wisdom], nor the Following of Christ. Commit them therefore to the flames: for they can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
“We are living now, not in the delicious intoxication induced by the early successes of science, but in a rather grisly morning-after… The contents of literature, art, music — even in some measure of divinity and school metaphysics — are not sophistry and illusion, but simply those elements of experience which scientists chose to leave out of account, for the good reason that they had no intellectual methods for dealing with them. In the arts, in philosophy, in religion, men are trying — to describe and explain the non-measureable, purely qualitative aspects of reality… [p. 308-310]
“In recent years, many men of science have come to realize that the scientific picture of the world is a partial one — the product of their special competence in mathematics and their special incompetence to deal systematically with aesthetic and moral values, religous experiences and intuitions of significance. Unhappily, novel ideas become acceptable to the less intelligent members of society only with a very considerable time-lag. Sixty or seventy years ago the majority of scientists believed — and the belief caused them considerable distress — that the product of their special incompetence was identical with reality as a whole. Today this belief has begun to give way, in scientific circles, to a different and obviously truer conception of the relation between science and total experience. The masses on the contrary, have just reached the point where the ancestors of todayʼs scientists were standing two generations back. They are convinced that the scientific picture of an arbitrary abstraction from reality is a picture of reality as a whole and that therefore the world is without meaning or value. But nobody likes living in such a world. To satisfy their hunger for meaning and value, they turn to such doctrines as nationalism, fascism and revolutionary communism. Philosophically and scientifically, these doctrines are absurd; but for the masses in every community, they have this great merit: they atytribute the meaning and value that have been taken away from the world as a whole to the particular part of the world in which the believers happen to be living.
“These last considerations raise an important question, which must now be considered in some detail. Does the world as a whole possess the value and meaning that we constatntly attribute to certain parts of it (such as human beings and their works); and, if so, what is thenature of that value and meaning? This is a question which, a few years ago, I should not even have posed. For, like so many of my contemporaries, I took it for granted that there was no meaning. This was partly due to the fact that I shared the common belief that the scientific picture of an abstraction from reality was a true picture of reality as a whole; partly also to other, non-intellectual reasons. I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption.
“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We donʼt know because we donʼt want to know. It is our will that decides how and upon what subjects we shall use our intelligence. Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless.” [p. 311-312]
“No philosophy is completely disinterested. The pure love of truth is always mingle to some extent with the need, consciously or unconsciously felt by even the noblest and the most intelligent philosophers, to justify a given form of personal or social behavior, to rationalize the traditional prejudices of a given class or community. The philosopher who finds meaning in the world is concerned, not only to elucidate that meaning, but also to prove that is it most clearly expressed in some established religion, some accepted code of morals. The philosopher who find no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is not valid reason why her personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. The voluntary, as opposed to the intellectual, reasons for holding the doctrines of materialism, for examples, may be predominantly erotic, as they were in the case of Lamettrie (see his lyrical account of the pleasures of the bed in La Volupte and at the end of LʼHomme Machine [‘The Human Machine,’ a work of materialist philosophy]), or predominantly political, as they were in the case of Karl Marx. The desire to justify a particular form of political organization and, in some cases, of a personal will to power has played an equally large part in the formulation of philosophies postulating the existence of meaning in the world. Christian philosophers have found no difficulty in justifying imperialism, war, the capitalistic system, the use of torture, the censorship of the press, and ecclesiastical tyrannies of every sort from the tyranny of Rome to the tyrannies of [Calvinʼs] Geneva and [Puritan] New England. In all cases they have shown that the meaning of the world was such as to be compatibel with, or actually most completely expressed by, the iniquities I have mentioned above — iniquities which happened, of course, to serve the personal or sectarian interests of the philosophiers concerned. In due course, these arose philosophers who denied not only the right of Christian special pleaders to justify iniquity by an appeal to the meaning of the world, but even their right to find any such meaning whatsoever. In the circumstances, the fact was not surprising. One unscrupulous distortion of the truth tends to beget other and opposite distortions. Passions may be satisfied in the process; but the disinterested love of knowledge suffers eclipse. [p. 314-316]
“For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was an admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever… The men of the new Enlightenment, which occurred in the middle years of the nineteenth century, once again used meaninglessness as a weapon against the [conservative] reactionaries. The Victorian passion for respectability was, however, so great that, during the period when they were formulated, neither Positivism nor Darwinism was used as a justification for sexual indulgence. [p. 316-317]
Aldous Huxleyʼs Warning against Sexual Addiction
“It is only when it takes the form of physical addiction that sex is evil. It is also evil when it manifests itself as a way of satisfying the lust for power or the climberʼs craving for position and social distinction.” [p. 358]
Aldous Huxley on Faith and Ethics
“There are some… who believe that no desirable ‘change of heart’ can be brought about without supernatural aid. There must be, they say, a return to religion. (Unhappily, they cannot agree on the religion to which the return should be made.)” [p. 2]
“In practice, Christianity, like Hinduism or Buddhism, is not one religion, but several religions, adapted to the needs of different types of human beings. A Christian church in Southern Spain, or Mexico, or Sicily is singularly like a Hindu temple. The eye is delighted by the same gaudy colors, the same tripe-like decorations, the same gesticulating statues; the nose inhales the same intoxicating smells; the ear and, along with it, the understanding, are lulled by the drone of the same incomprehensible incantations [in the old Catholic Latin mass tradition], roused by the same loud, impressive music.
“At the other end of the scale, consider the chapel of a Cistercian monastery and the meditation hall of a community of Zen Buddhists. They are equally bare; aids to devotion (in other words fetters holding back the soul from enlightenment) are conspicuously absent from either building. Here are two distinct religions for two distinct kinds of human beings.” [p. 262-263]
“In Christianity bhakti [or, loving devotion] towards a personal being has always been the most popular form of religious practice. Up to the time of the [Catholic] Counter-Reformation, however, the way of knowledge (“mystical knowledge” as it is called in Chrstian language) was accorded an honorable place beside the way of devotion. From the middle of the sixteenth century onwards the way of knowledge came to be neglected and even condemned. We are told by Dom John Chapman that “Mercurian, who was general of the society (of Jesus) from 1573 to 1580, forbade the use of the works of Tauler, Ruysbroek, Suso, Harphius, St. Gertrude, and St. Mechtilde.” Every effort was made by the [Catholic] Counter-Reformers to heighten the worshipperʼs devotion to a personal divinity. The literary content of Baroque art is hysterical, almost epileptic, in the violence of its emotionality. It even becomes necessary to call in physiology as an aid to feeling. The ecstasies of the saints are represented by seventeenth-century artists as being frankly sexual. Seventeenth-century drapery writhes like so much tripe. In the equivocal personage of Margaret Mary Alacocque, seventeenth-century piety pours over a bleeding and palpitating heart. From this orgy of emotionalism and sensationalism Catholic Christianity seems never completely to have recovered.” [p. 281-282]
“First Shakespeare sonnets seem meaningless; first Bach fugues, a bore; first differential equations, sheer torture. But training changes the nature of our spiritual experiences. In due course, contact with an obscurely beautiful poem, an elaborate piece of [musical] counterpoint or of mathematical reasoning, causes us to feel direct intuitions of beauty and significance. It is the same in the moral world. A man who has trained himself in goodness come to have certain direct intuitions about character, about the relations between human beings, about his own position in the world — intuitions that are quite different from the intuitions of the average sensual man… [p. 333]
“The ideal of non-attachment has been formulated and systematically preached again and again in the course of the last three thousand years. We find it (along with everything else) in Hinduism. It is at the very heart of the teachings of the Buddha. For Chinese readers the doctrine is formulated by Lao Tsu. A little later, in Greece, the ideal of non-attachment is proclaimed, albeit with a certain, pharisaic priggishness, by the Stoics. The Gospel of Jesus is essentially a gospel of non-attachment to “the things of this world,” and of attachment to God. Whatever may have been the aberrations of organized Christianity — and they range from extravagant asceticism to the most brutally cynical forms of realpolitik — there has been no lack of Christian philosophers to reaffirm the ideal of non-attachment. Here is John Tauler, for example, telling us that ‘freedom is complete purity and detachment which seeketh the Eternal…’ Here is the author of “The Imitation of Christ,” who bids us ‘pass through many cares as though without care; not after the manner of a sluggard, but by a certain prerogative of a free mind, which does not cleave with inordinate affection to any creature.’” [p. 5, 6]
“…as knowledge, sensibility and non-attachment increase, the contents of the judgments of value passed even by men belonging to dissimilar cultures, tend to approximate. The ethical doctrines taught in the Tao Te Ching, by Buddha and his followers, in the Sermon on the Mount, and by the best of the Christian saints, are not dissimilar.” [p. 327]
Aldous Huxley on the Influence of the Worst Aspects of the Bible on the History of Christianity
“Examples of reversion to barbarism through mere ignorance are unhappily abundant in the history of Christianity. The early Christians made the enormous mistake of burdening themselves with the Old Testament, which contains, along with much fine poetry and sound morality the history of the cruelties and treacheries of a Bronze-Age people, fighting for a place in the sun under the protection of its anthropomorphic tribal deity… Those whom it suited to be ignorant and, along with them, the innocent and uneducated could find in this treasure-house of barbarous stupidity justifications for every crime and folly. Texts to justify such abominations as religious wars, the persecution of heretics… could be found in the sacred books and were in fact used again and again throughout the whole history of the Christian Church. [p. 328]
“In this remarkable compendium of Bronze-Age literature, God is personal to the point of being almost sub-human. Too often the believer has felt justified in giving way to his worst passions by the reflection that, in doing so, he is basing his conduct on that of a God who feels jealousy and hatred… and behaves in general like a particularly ferocious oriental tyrant. The frequency with which men have identified the prompting of their own passions with the voice of an all too personal God is really appalling.” [p. 276-277]
“According to his very inadequate biographers, Jesus of Nazareth was never preoccupied with philosophy, art, music, or science and ignored almost completely the problems of politics, economics and sexual relations. It is also recorded of him that he blasted a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season, that he scourged the shopkeepers in the temple precincts and caused a herd of swine to drown. Scrupulous devotion to and imitation of the person of Jesus have resulted only too frequently in a fatal tendency, on the part of earnest Christians, to despise artistic creation and philosophic thought; to disparage the inquiring intellect, to evade all long-range, large-scale problems of politics and economics, and to believe themsevles justified in displaying anger, or as they would doubtless prefer to call it, ‘righteous indignation.’” [p. 275-276]