1860 c/o Blake Wallin

TH Huxley: Today’s selection is
How-you-say, natural…

*dance music*

Bishop Wilberforce: Thank you, Thomas.
But before we begin, I’d like to point out
A few things germane to the audience –
Namely, that mankind could not have
Descended from apes, as we trust that
Our Lord has imbued us with diversity
That befits His natural order plainly, and
Bespeaks to the wonders of His Creation.
God created His wonderful works in fewer
Days than you can count with two full hands,
And you expect Him to begrudgingly step aside
For a theory some upstart naturalist would have
You take for a natural law? The folly of this
Is enormous, for it speaks to human vanity
And makes God’s un-commissioned artistry
An accident birthed in the non-fires of nothingness.
I refuse to let a misguided theory based upon
Nothing more than the duly noted rules of adaptation
Have such a lustrous day in a court of your own making.
If God is not real, as you would have everyone believe,
Then this theory would make eminent sense.
However, God exists, and will not look kindly on
Our meddling in the natural affairs that He has
Gifted us with so generously. I see your lack of respect
For any sort of divine will and raise you one Godhead,
Three-in-one, the last one probably looking upon us
And shaking his head ruefully as we speak,
His robe tainted by being in the same vicinity
As a most-likely atheist coward who doesn’t
See that the only way out of divine perdition
Is a thoroughgoing inquiry into the nature of
One’s own soul, a soul which in your case is tarnished.
A modern-day Jeremiah would see through this.

TH Huxley: This measley plaintiff
Would have you believe that what you
See before you is a fluke, a grand design,
Whereas we know Darwin has opened the
Floodgates of the waters of understanding,
Lending to those with ears the capacity to hear
A new song of Creation that spells itself out
In words clearer than the Bishop can read.

Bishop Wilberforce: This NYU Draper paper
Has no place whatsoever intimating that
European culture adheres to Darwinian schema,
And the claim of evolution is far from proven;
He should have taken it to the New York zoo,
Where, surely, the apes there will understand
His words and nod accordingly, scratching
Whatever they needed to scratch at that point.

TH Huxley: I grant that the implications
Of the paper remain unclear, as does the
Far-reaching societal scope of Darwin’s theory,
But it may be true that apes can understand
More than you, Sir.

Bishop Wilberforce: All of this is obscuring the fact
That the theory is as yet unproven; dig more and it
May be proven false; was it on your grandmother’s
Or your grandfather’s side that you are descended
From apes, Sir? Full-stop, don’t halt.

TH Huxley: While I would not be ashamed
To have a monkey as an ancestor, I would
Blanch at having as a relative a man who
Uses his gifts to obscure the truth.

Bishop Wilberforce: I trust this theory
Will fade into the ether after it is discovered
As false as your witness to it. After studying –

TH Huxley: No you haven’t.

Henry Fawcett (the blind economist,
Remarking to his left): It’s true, he
Hasn’t read a word of Origin.

Bishop Wilberforce (turning to his right):
I have never – (biting his tongue at blindness)

TH Huxley: Representing science,
I can say that geology and astronomy
Have had their days in court (and won),
And that this issue will be resolved
In a fortnight, leaving you intellectually
Destitute, clinging onto your tired social role
And bandying about ignorance like you’re
So fond of doing.

Bishop Wilberforce: I think the good
Anglicans in this audience will agree,
That the soundest theory will win out
And at the end of the day favor God
And me.

TH Huxley: No, the good Anglicans
Will realize this is a question of good science
Versus a pontiff has-been, still ratcheting up
Superstitious claims the church has touted
For decades, for spurious aims.

Bishop Wilberforce: You can’t get to
Natural selection from adaptation alone;
It works in domestication, where
Variation is a fact of life people live by,
But you can’t get to a governing theory
Through that method alone.

TH Huxley: Domesticity (and, for what
It’s worth, you reek of it) is not the issue,
What’s at stake is a theory that doesn’t
Subordinate real science for crass dialectics,
A theory that many before Darwin had
Pointed to, but which none could give the
Finishing touch to.

Bishop Wilberforce: That being the
Deathblow to religion you realize –

TH Huxley: Not what it means,
But I would be fine with that.

Bishop Wilberforce: Ha! You are
An atheist…

TH Huxley: Well, at least we learned
Something today that everyone else
In the room already knows.

Bishop Wilberforce: Why should I
Lend your argument credence if
It comes from a place of hatred
And obvious scorn for heavenly matters?

TH Huxley: Says the man who
Obscures truth, which, Heaven knows,
Angels and God are concerned with.
The indisputable fact of Darwin’s theory
Will be borne out by scientists hence,
Driven not by fear of divine retribution,
But by honest inquiry into the sources
Of our natural origins which the light
Of day has shown to be our friends in
The animal kingdom. Perhaps the color
On your cheeks is from embarrassment
On behalf of a society that has treated
So poorly them and other, higher animals.
For too long man has assumed its place
At the top of the chain not questioning
How or why it got there, what mechanisms
Already in place put him there millennia ago.
Now, through the revolution of Darwin’s law,
We can venture out of Plato’s cave and look in
At the objects of religion which obscured us
From seeing clearly reality as it was outside of
Our preconceived notions. It is a glorious sun-
Rise. Come, join me in viewing it fully and,
For the first time, see with your own eyes
The coming of the glory of enlightenment.
Perhaps you, and only you individually, will
See the Lord as well. I trust that will be nice.
I, however, will look to the heavens and then
Back down at an earth I understand better,
And witness the fullness of Creation living
Based upon natural selection.

Bishop Wilberforce: I would need my glasses –

TH Huxley: You read only what you want to,
This court is adjourned, a good day Sir, to you.