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Evolution of Theology: an Anthropological Study (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Henry Huxley

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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


I suppose that, so long as the human mind exists, it will not escape its deep-seated instinct to personify its intellectual conceptions. The science of the present day is as full of this particular form of intellectual shadow-worship as is the nescience of ignorant ages.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 130 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 50 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: B005G8OSBI
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  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B0082XK2Y6
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.0 von 5 Sternen  2 Rezensionen
13 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Check which edition you are buying.... 29. November 2006
Von Piers J. Hale - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Thomas Henry Huxley, _Evolution of Theology: An Anthropological Study_, Hard Press, no date. paperback, pp.41.

While it is good that the works of Thomas Huxley should remain in print, the presentation of the recent Hard Press edition (no date), leaves a lot to be desired. This edition provides no details about the original date of publication [1886], nor indeed, any introductory or biographical information on Huxley, on his career, or the importance of this essay in the context of his biological, philosophpical and political writings. Rather, the first words of the book are Huxley's own.

This might perhaps be all well and good to the general reader, but in addition to this, and arguably more troubling, is the fact that the text has clearly not been adequatley proof read. There are passages where html commands are present in the text, and instead of the Greek passages and words of the original, the editor has chosen just to insert the word "Greek". To make matters worse, the footnote references do not tally with the note numbering in the text.

Huxley was an eminent scholar, and this essay is important in considering his naturalistic views on theology, but this particular edition does little service. Indeed, one would be better served consulting the Huxley website, where a more accurate and informative version could be garnered. In short, the Hard Press edition needs to go back to the editor's office for what are, in all honesty, elementary revisions before being re-presented to the book-buying public.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Mind blowing 29. Dezember 2013
Von Pax Romana - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
"From my present point of view, theology is regarded as a natural product of the operations of the human mind, under the conditions of its existence, just as any other branch of science, or the arts of architecture, or music, or painting are such products. Like them, theology has a history. Like them also, it is to be met with in certain simple and rudimentary forms; and these can be connected by a multitude of gradations, which exist or have existed, among people of various ages and races, with the most highly developed theologies of past and present times."


* Extreme attention to detail

* Very dedicated to truthfulness and accuracy

* Very unbiased

* Clearly explains how theology evolves independent of culture and geography

* Huxley uses personal anecdotes and quotes authorities in their respective fields

* Contains lots of information

* Opens you up to new ways of thinking


* Almost exclusively talks about Western theology

* A bit dry at times, especially in the beginning

* Can be very difficult to grasp at points

* Huxley could be a little more skeptical

"It must be remembered that the literature of the old Israelites, as it lies before us, has been subjected to the revisal of strictly monotheistic editors, violently opposed to all kinds of idolatry, who are not likely to have selected from the materials at their disposal any obvious evidence, either of the practice under discussion, or of that ancestor-worship which is so closely related to it, for preservation in the permanent records of their people."

Let me start off by saying that this is quite possibly the best book I've ever read. I certainly didn't think it would be when I started it, as the first few pages are quite complex and boring. Once you get what Huxley is trying to convey and are used to his writing style, the book becomes exponentially better.

I am shocked that this book is practically unknown; to me, it is a classic. As the title suggests, Huxley brilliantly charts out the evolution of theology. He goes into extreme detail on the topic of what the ancient Israelites believe - in fact, he gives multiple translations of words from Hebrew to English in the Bible from the top translators of his day in order to convey the most accuracy possible. Huxley shows that all primitive theologies, including that of the Israelites, don't necessarily believe in gods, but have a foundation in the belief in ghosts (that the 'essence' of humans survives the death of the body). Belief in gods is simply a manifestation of this more fundamental belief in ghosts. How developed this theology is depends on the civilization - some simply believe in ghosts, others believe they can be communicated with via divination or witchcraft, and even more sophisticated, such as that of the Jews, derived their ethics from this theology. Example:

"And those who will carefully study the so-called "Mosaic code" contained in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, will see that, though Jahveh's prohibitions of certain forms of immorality are strict and sweeping, his wrath is quite as strongly kindled against infractions of ritual ordinances. Accidental homicide may go unpunished, and reparation may be made for wilful theft. On the other hand, Nadab and Abihu, who "offered strange fire before Jahveh, which he had not commanded them," were swiftly devoured by Jahveh's fire; he who sacrificed anywhere except at the allotted place was to be "cut off from his people"; so was he who ate blood; and the details of the upholstery of the Tabernacle, of the millinery of the priests' vestments, and of the cabinet work of the ark, can plead direct authority from Jahveh, no less than moral commands."

Huxley also shows the intermingling of different theologies among the Semitic peoples and the Egyptians, and how the Egyptian code of ethics, mostly found in their 'Book of the Dead' is similar yet superior to its Biblical counterpart. He then compares cultures that have had absolutely no prior contact to Western civilization, such as the Polynesians, with the theology of the ancient Jews, showing that again, they are nearly identical. Huxley concludes that the pinnacle of theology was reached by the Israelite prophets, such as Ezra, in and around the 4th and 5th centuries BCE.

Most amazingly, Huxley demonstrates that Christian theology, the combination of Greek philosophy and Jewish scripture (brought on by Philo of Alexandria), with its vague, esoteric, and allegorical interpretations, has sent theology spiralling into a regression. A new form of paganism, with the worship of the Virgin Mary and Saints, has been ushered in; idolatry is more popular than ever with pictures of crosses and crucifixes - in fact, Huxley says that if Jesus could see Christianity, he would conclude that it is a blasphemous religion, and etc.

Huxley explains how theology evolved due to internal struggle and criticism, but lately, it is coming under fire from the outside due to secular forces, such as science. Eventually these forces will push theology back to its origins, completely divorced from ethics. This is truly mind blowing stuff and I can't recommend it enough.

"With the growth of civilisation in Europe, and with the revival of letters and of science in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the ethical and intellectual criticism of theology once more recommenced, and arrived at a temporary resting-place in the confessions of the various reformed Protestant sects in the sixteenth century; almost all of which, as soon as they were strong enough, began to persecute those who carried criticism beyond their own limit. But the movement was not arrested by these ecclesiastical barriers, as their constructors fondly imagined it would be; it was continued, tacitly or openly, by Galileo, by Hobbes, by Descartes, and especially by Spinoza, in the seventeenth century; by the English Freethinkers, by Rousseau, by the French Encyclopaedists, and by the German Rationalists, among whom Lessing stands out a head and shoulders taller than the rest, throughout the eighteenth century; by the historians, the philologers, the Biblical critics, the geologists, and the biologists in the nineteenth century, until it is obvious to all who can see that the moral sense and the really scientific method of seeking for truth are once more predominating over false science. Once more ethics and theology are parting company."
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