“It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains.” That’s Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 – 1895), also known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his spirited advocacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
It’s fascinating to read about his life. With only two years of schooling, he left school at the age of 10 because his family was facing financial hardships. He is the greatest autodidact of the 19th century CE. His extraordinary achievements led him to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburg, Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, and received many prestigious awards.
Fun fact: Huxley coined the English term “agnostic” in 1869. “It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe.” The concept of agnosticism goes back to antiquity, however. The wiki says,
Sanjaya Belatthaputta, a 5th-century BCE Indian philosopher who expressed agnosticism about any afterlife; and Protagoras, a 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher who expressed agnosticism about the existence of “the gods.”
I think the greatest strength of Hinduism — and what sets it apart from the monotheistic religions — is that it admits skepticism and agnosticism. The “Creation Hymn” of the Rig Veda addresses the question of who or what created the universe:
Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, whence came creation?
No one knows whence creation arose;
and whether god has or has not made it.
He who surveys it from the highest regions
Perhaps he knows it, or perhaps he knows not.
I take every opportunity I get to point to Sagan’s lovely segment on Hinduism in his Cosmos TV series. This post will be no exception.
Here’s a very old post related to Hinduism. It’s from 2002 — nearly 20 years ago — reposted in 2005. I titled it “Billions and Billions.” If you do read that post, you’d notice the lengthy comments by readers. Those were the glory days of blogging.
OK, that’s it for now.
3 thoughts on “Huxley, Freedom and Hinduism”
That creation hymn is the great Nasadiya Sukta. When I realized the beauty of that Sukta, tears swelled up out of pride. I felt the pride of being a Hindu. I was proud to profess a religion which had the clear logical mind to say ‘God/Super-god, if it exists, may not know’.
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Brilliant post!!! Thanks
On Thu, 22 Jul 2021 at 16:27, Life is a Random Draw wrote:
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Hinduism is a religion of theism, that is inclusive of scepticism, hence not a religion at all, by definition. Such encompassing of belief and disbelief is rather a philosophy, that is of free thinkers, hence the multiple schools of thoughts under a single umbrella – Hinduism.
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