Thomas Huxley

Dinosaurs, dogma and the Victorian mind

In March 1860, shortly after The Origin of Species was published, Charles Darwin wrote to Leonard Horner thanking him for some surprising information. ‘How curious about the Bible!’ he exclaimed. Horner had taken aim at the marginal notes that were printed in the standard (and ubiquitous) Authorised, or King James, Version. These began with the date of creation, 4004 BC, as calculated by Archbishop James Ussher in the 17th century. Darwin was astonished. ‘I had fancied that the date was somehow in the Bible,’ he wrote. The disturbing ‘monsters’ dug from the cliffs of Lyme Regis did not sit well with the literal reading of Genesis The fact that Darwin,