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T. H. Huxley

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Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) was an English writer who earned himself the nickname "Darwin's Bulldog" as a result of his vigorous support of the Theory of Evolution. Perhaps the most famous example of this was the debate in 1860 between Huxley and the conservative Bishop of Oxford (in the Anglican Church), Samuel Wilberforce. During the course of the debate, Wilberforce sarcastically asked Huxley if he claimed descent from apes on his mother's or his father's side. Huxley replied that he would rather be descended from an ape than a wealthy bishop who misused his gifts. Although this exchange has passed into the popular imagination as a trouncing of the creationist position, the truth is less clear. Both sides claimed victory following the debate, and Huxley himself had doubts about the mechanism of natural selection, although he championed Darwin tirelessly. Many of the more liberal members of the clergy disliked the hardline Wilberforce and supported Huxley.

In 1869, Huxley coined the term "agnostic" (from the Greek agnostos or unknowable) as a description of the doctrine that mankind cannot know of the existence of anything outside its own experience. The term would come to mean those who are uncertain if there is a God.

Huxley was the father of the writer Leonard Huxley and the grandfather of the author Aldous Huxley, the Nobel Laureate Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley, the biologist Hugh Esmor Huxley, and the philosopher and biologist Sir Julian Huxley.

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