Aldous Leonard Huxley(1894-1963)
In his best known book - the early novel, Brave New World (1932) - he warned against the danger of a possible future society, in the name of science and technology, depriving individuals of their freedom. He returned to this theme in Brave New World Revisited (1958), a set of essays on real-life problems, in which he expresses the fear that some of his earlier prophecies may be coming true much sooner than he imagined. His interest in science continued throughout his life. His final book was entitled, Literature and Science (1963). Other fears about the world's future are expressed in a satire about the world after an atomic war - Ape and Essence (1948) - and an early essay on ecology. His concern with freedom led him, in later life, to move in the directions of mysticism, drugs and the occult. After moving to southern California in 1947, he became associated with the Ramakrishna Mission in Hollywood. Searching for a drug that would allow an escape from the self and that, if taken with caution, would be physically and socially harmless, he became famous, in the 1950s, for his interest in psychedelic or mind-expanding drugs (mescalin and LSD). He described his supervised experiments with mescalin in The Doors of Perception (1954). He did not encourage free experimentation with drugs, warning against this in an appendix to The Devils of Loudun (1952), a psychological study of an episode in French history. In Heaven and Hell (1956), he compared the ecstatic and depressed states produced by mescalin with accounts of heaven and hell given by mystics. He also pursued various occult studies. His novel, Island (1962), reflects his interest in mysticism and drugs. This novel is linked to Brave New World by the theme of freedom. In Brave New World, he deplored the use of soma, a drug which produced an artificial happiness which made the people content with a lack of freedom. In Island, he approved of a perfected version of LSD which the people used in a religious way. He was a significant influence on Timothy Leary (1920-96), widely known in the 1960s as an 'LSD guru', and the 'drug culture' with its associated problems of increased crime. The Christian apologist can learn from Huxley's protest against the undermining of individual freedom. Examining Huxley's own search for freedom, we must emphasize that true freedom is found in Christ (John 8:36; Galatians 5:1). In Huxley's writings, there is a restless awareness of a transcendnent dimension which cannot be captured by a worldview that is limited by the perspectives of science and technology. This persistent longing for an 'out of this world' dimension led Huxley in the directions of mysticism, drugs and the occult. His wide-ranging search for transcendence may be seen by the Christian apologist as evidence of a divine dimension - 'God has set eternity in the hearts of men' (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In Huxley's writings, the search for transcendence is unending and ultimately unfulfilled - always seeking and never finding. In Christ, we see something very different - the revelation of the transcendent 'God' who came 'among us' to 'seek and to save the lost' (John 1:1,14; Luke 19:10). Knowing Christ as 'the truth' in which we can confidently trust, we will be saved from following the way taken by Huxley, the way of being 'blown here and there by every wind of doctrine', the way which speaks of 'freedom' while leading us to become 'slaves of depravity' (John 14:6; Ephesians 4:14; 2 Peter 2:19).