The rise of secularization in 19th century


The secularization of 19th century England was multicausal. Various elements contributed to this process. Included in this were post-results of The Enlightenment namely humanistic philosophy that manifested itself with the pass on of deism and Enlightenment aesthetics. Other elements included science and natural theology. Natural theology was the attempt of the church to stave off secularization, but in fact hastened the procedure. Clearly science was extra responsible for the secularization of nineteenth century England than Enlightenment humanistic philosophy. This essay will explore the watershed of healthy theology and its own demise in nineteenth century England.

Recognizing the intellectual context and environment that existed at the move of the 19th century can help illuminate why humanistic triggers contributed to England’s secularization. There is, as Thomas Kuhn says, a "paradigm change" in society. The commercial revolution resulted in massive urbanization that frequently occupied previously religious construction for commerce and market. Cathedrals, abbeys, and churches slowly but surely became merely additional areas in a city and no longer the location centres or primary areas of gathering. There was a shift from superstitions and spiritual explanations for several phenomena to physical and reason-based explanations especially between the 17th century before 1660 and the Enlightenment of the 18th century. (155) For instance, before this paradigm change people dealt with the insane via exorcism because their insanity was attributed to Satan. (Brook 1993, 155) Afterwards, different medical elites deemed these practices madness and attributed insanity to non-spiritual triggers. Among these events specific groups formed, which were led by this appeal of rationality over conventional religious beliefs like the aesthetes and deists.

The aesthetes, such as Irish author Oscar Wilde, deists and various other groups resented bourgeois contemporary society specially the rigid conservatism, oppressive hypocrisy and suppression of intellectualism of the church. Historians of Victorian intellectual lifestyle such as David J. DeLaura possess recognized that numerous Victorian atheists and agnostics remaining the Christian church because they thought Christianity was turning into immoral.

"The increased loss of spiritual faith in such representative early Victorian agnostics as F. W. Newman (John Henry Newman’s brother), and J. A. Froude was not as a result of usually suggested causes of the surge of evolutionary theory in geology and biology. The dominant aspect was a growing repugnance toward the ethical implications of what each had been taught to trust as necessary Christianity –the doctrines: Classic Sin, Reprobation, Baptismal Regeneration, Vicarious Atonement, and Eternal Punishment." (DeLaura 1969, 13).

Murphy’s journal content The Ethical Revolt Against Christian Orthodoxy in Early Victorian England (1955) in The American Historical Review explains how it had been predominantly ethical rejections of Christian Doctrine that led to the secularization of 19th century England. He presents case studies of three persons F. W. Newman (1805-97), J. A good. Froude (1818-94), and Mary Anne Evans (1819-1880). Murphy clarifies that contrary to the favorite opinions, that once Darwin and Lyell demonstrated that neither the origin of the planet earth nor the origin of man relating to Genesis was congruent with scientific discovery that most thinking people started to be agnostic or atheist, secularization occurred through the Victorian age predominantly because of conflicts between orthodox dogma and meliorist ethical bias of the changing times. (Murphy 1955, 801) Murphy argues that research did provide important ammunition once the attack on orthodoxy had started, but it didn’t produce the assault. The records of these three persons leave no trace of having read Lyell and they all had kept the church 10-20 years before Origin of Species was posted. Newman matures in a Christian house but later writes a book Phases of Faith where he describes that he’s disturbed by the dominant Christian doctrines believing them to get unethical. Newman discovers through significant reasoning that the sacrifice of Christ serving as atonement was not logical because attacking the infinite durability of Christ was evading not satisfying justice as Christ had not been really harmed. (Murphy 1955, 803) Murphy explains that Froude "did not waste time on fine items of technology or Biblical scholarship, but came right to the main level: the intolerable ethical primitiveness of the vicari-ous-atonement principle" (808) Froude claims the atonement principle’s claim that the guilt of a man‘s sin be transferred, possibly voluntarily, to an innocent Christ is definitely a perversion of justice. Furthermore to then declare that a man’s sin can be a loss that God suffers where He would need satisfaction that needed to be paid, without it mattering by whom, can be an insult to God’s persona. Finally, Evans deviates from the faith because she believes that it is unethical and untrue that spiritual faith is a required prerequisite to attaining moral excellence. Within an article entitled "Evangelical Teaching: Dr. Cumming" (Westminster Analysis, October 1855) she writes about Dr. Cumming, a self-righteous admired London preacher to come to be teaching Christian doctrine determined "to end up being subversive of true moral development and for that reason positively noxious. " (Evans 1855, 1) Thus, these case studies demonstrate how the secularization of 19th century England occurred due to meliorist rejections of ethical concerns within church doctrine.

However, what even more tremendously contributed to the secularization of nineteenth century England was the creation of technology. "Science was viewed as a vehicle of social and intellectual liberation." (Brooke 1993, 155) Natural Theology attemptedto make theological claims about the existence of God by observing mother nature and drawing conclusions via the design argument rather than making claim’s predicated on God’s private self-revelation via scripture. The look argument is certainly proposed by Paley in his do the job Normal Theology (1802) &quot;There cannot be design with out a designer; contrivance without a contriver; order without choice; arrangement, without anything with the capacity of arranging." (12) Paley believes nature is a device, and hence was intelligently built. He made this connection because he was writing while England was experiencing the Industrial Revolution.

American Philosopher Alston in Perceiving God defines natural theology as "the business of rendering support for religious beliefs by beginning with premises that neither happen to be nor presuppose any spiritual beliefs" (Alston, 1991b, p.289) Healthy theology as defence of Christian theology proves fatal. Swiss theologian Barth rejects Pure Theology. He states that belief triggers a bifurcation of understanding of God into natural understanding of God and revealed knowledge of the triune God, which is usually scientifically & theologically intolerable. "Barth argues that unless rational framework [is usually] bound up with the actual content of the data of

God it [turns into] a distorting abstraction."(Torrance, 1970, 128). American philosopher Platinga views Natural Theology as an effort to prove or demonstrate the living of God. This is a problem since it supposes that belief in God rests after evidential basis. Hence belief in God isn’t a simple belief and self-evident. Belief in God necessitates getting grounded on a far more basic belief, but doing thus giving the more standard belief greater epistemic position than belief in God. Platinga argues that belief in God is normally itself basic and does not need justification with references to additional beliefs.

Natural theology furnished deists and atheists innovative ammunition to determine their private arguments. If God could be explained specifically with empirical evidence, after that His non-existence may be explained specifically with empirical facts if that evidence could be related to another origin. Lyell in his Principles of Geology (1830) argues for "uniformitarianism" stating that the same physical and geological forces seen in the present have been active over a colossal period of time during the past. Darwin in On the Origin of Species (1859) poses an identical argument along with counter-teleological arguments of pure assortment, presenting "directionality within aspect without implying progression or purpose." (McGrath 2010, 36)

Biologist Thomas Huxley and Physicist John Tyndall generate significant contributions in delegitimizing pure theology and using research to secularize England. Huxley debates and rebukes Oxford bishop Wilberforce when Wilberforce denounces Darwin’s development theory within their debate of 1860 at the British Association conference at Oxford. This is but one of many events regarding the clergy’s shed domination of intellectual life in Britain. When the Uk Association for the Improvement of Science was founded in 1830 clerics composed 30% of its total members. Through the period 1831-1865 forty-one clergy had been in association. Then in the time 1866-1900 only three remained. (Brooke 1993, 50) "Between 1660 and 1793 the scientific universe established a lot more than 70 recognized scientific societies (and practically as many private types) in urban centres as significantly removed as St. Petersburg and Philadelphia". (Brooke 1993, 152) Huxley and his colleagues utilize the conflict thesis of technology vs. religion to strike the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. Draper’s Background of the Conflict Between Religious beliefs and Research (1874) and White’s Record of the Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom (1896) made the Conflict thesis very well know arguing that it’s the type of science & faith to be in opposition. Draper in his work states, "The history of Science isn’t only record of isolated discoveries; this can be a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human being intellect on one part, and the compression due to [traditional] faith and individual interests on the various other." (Draper 1874, vi) Northwestern University History Professor Heyck argues that Victorian scientists "wanted nothing significantly less than to move research from the periphery to the centre of English existence" (Heyck 1982, 87) Tyndall in 1874 gave a speech in Belfast, an extremely religious city, before the annual conference of the British Association for the Improvement of Technology. He argues that technology holds greater authority than religion or non-rationalist explanations. In his strike on religion Tyndall upholds rationalism, consistency and scepticism.

Thus, at the close of the 19th century, the concept was cemented in to the English psyche that science and religion had been in grave conflict and that, as such, science would have to be divorced from religious beliefs or non-rationality. Pure theology have been warped right into a new variety of naturalistic science where in fact the observations of aspect provided data for an evolutionary origin not needing a religious description.

Although post-results of the enlightenment clearly did donate to the secularization of 19th century England, they were not as significant as the contributions of science. Secularization in England had to do with changing society so that it was no more beneath the control or influence of faith. The argument that meliorist objections to the ethical pieces of Christian Doctrine were the driving power that disempowered the church does not hold. Issues regarding ethics did decrease the membership of churches, nonetheless it didn’t disempower the church like science did. Science through the go up and fall of natural theology provided birth to a complete new generation of numbers such as for example Huxley and Darwin who undermined the function of the church in world. Ethical grievances marginalized specific groups of people including the aesthetes from the church nonetheless it did not remove the church’s influence over contemporary society to the same level that scientific development do. The demise of healthy theology led to a number of publications and conferences that took away the church’s predominant role in the field of science and society. Content enlightenment effects such as inquiries on ethics acted as a catalyst for secularization, nonetheless it did not lead to significantly greater removal of church affect. The enlightenment and technology are inextricably linked but the effects science and pure theology had on getting rid of church affect and supremacy in Victorian England induced better paradigm shifts in culture than ethical conflicts as evinced by the sources.

Thus, it is clear that science to a lot better extent led to the secularization of nineteenth century England. The evidence demonstrates that Healthy Theology didn’t strengthen but rather weakened the church. By wanting to demonstrate God’s presence and presence by empirical analysis specifically theologians provided a platform for a new emergence of deism and atheism. Lyell, Darwin, Huxley, and Tyndall acted as catalysts to this process as they utilized the premises of All natural Theology to draw latest conclusions about the origins the earth and living organisms. Draper and Light towards the end of the nineteenth century figured science and faith had become enemies within their conflict thesis undermining spiritual activity as non-rational. Content effects of the enlightenment, such as the meliorist objections to the ethics of church doctrine and the emergence of latest anti-religious groups such as the aesthetes did contribute to England’s secularization but to a lesser extent. Hence, research was the predominant factor in the secularization of England in the 19th century.

Word Count: 2054

The on top of essay is all my own work: the source of all material found in its compilation offers been duly cited and all help received is certainly acknowledged. The essay does not substantially duplicate material previously or simultaneously submitted to academic personnel at any academic organization.

Jesse Alvarez

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