June 30 in freethought history…

oxforddebatepmonumentJune 30, 1860 – Biologist Thomas “Darwin’s Bulldog” Huxley and Bishop Samuel “Soapy Sam” Wilberforce exchange jibes during a discussion on evolution at the Oxford University Museum in Oxford, England. No direct transcript of the conversation exists, but it was noted by several diarists and has become the stuff of legend. Darwin himself was not present, but his Origin of Species had only recently been published, and had met with great pushback from the clergy. Accounts vary on exactly what was said, but the general thrust was that Wilberforce asked Huxley if he descended from apes on his mother’s or his father’s side, to which Huxley replied he would rather be descended from an ape than from a man who would use his gifts to obscure the truth. Oh, snap.

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