By Timothy Larsen

The Victorian situation of religion has ruled discussions of faith and the Victorians. tales are often instructed of famous Victorians corresponding to George Eliot wasting their religion. This predicament is gifted as demonstrating the highbrow weak spot of Christianity because it was once assaulted through new strains of inspiration comparable to Darwinism and biblical feedback. This research serves as a corrective to that narrative. It specializes in freethinking and Secularist leaders who got here to religion. As sceptics, they'd imbibed all of the most modern rules that looked as if it would undermine religion; however, they went directly to event a drawback of doubt, after which to shield of their writings and lectures the highbrow cogency of Christianity. The Victorian problem of doubt used to be unusually huge. Telling this tale serves to revive its real percentage and to bare the highbrow power of religion within the 19th century.

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Extra resources for Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England

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86 However much he might have been out of step with the worldview of an evangelical Anglican such as Rolleston, Hone’s openness to the spirit realm was also a trait of a succession of intellectuals engaged in popular social and political movements, from Robert Owen onwards. ’87 This, like a new openness to the realm of the spirit, is a kind of knowledge from experience in keeping in its own way with the scientiWc spirit of the Enlightenment.

O. J. Cockshut has informed us that the nineteenth-century crisis of faith only reached this ironical stage in the lifetime of the grandson and namesake of one of Hone’s critics, the novelist Samuel Butler (1835–1902). Cockshut averred, regarding Butler’s satirical novel Erewhon (1872): ‘Although all this is rather obvious stuV, it yet contained something new—not a new thought but a new tone. Instead of the high-mindedness of Mill and Arnold, instead of the Wery indignation of Bradlaugh and Huxley, we have a detached snigger.

O. J. Cockshut, The Unbelievers: English Agnostic Thought, 1840–1890 (London: Collins, 1964), 101. 74 Samuel Butler, The Life and Letters of Dr. Samuel Butler (London: John Murray, 1896), ii. 372–3. 75 Ibid. i. 206–7. 76 Ibid. p. vi. William Hone 41 The one judgement that can be made with the most conWdence about Hone’s inner religious life and convictions is that for the last decade of his life he was a sincere, orthodox, evangelical Christian. 77 Hone’s religious scepticism had been informed by some of the latest and most rigorous and advanced thinking in that vein.

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