Science and Religious Beliefs of the Victorians Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1437 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Science and Religious Beliefs of the Victorians

Whether to follow the critical mind whatever its destructive effect on religious faith or to follow the will to believe and abandon reason could become for some Victorians, perhaps a majority of the intellectuals, the two horns of a dilemma. They could do neither. No sooner had they concluded, under the influence of science and biblical criticism, that Christianity was a myth or that all supernatural religion was a delusion than they felt the hopes and consolations, so deeply imbibed by the Bible readings and church services of their youth, not only alive but reviving the more intensely as they were threatened with extinction."Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Science and Religious Beliefs of the Victorians Assignment

Growing up with the ecclesiastical teachings, basking in the light of the bible readings and church services, the Victorians perhaps grew to take religion for granted; something that had existed all along and was beyond doubt and question. It was perhaps this unchallenged belief that had cooled the passion of religion, and had served to drive a wedge between Man and God. Meanwhile scientific progress was continuing unabated, and it was only a matter of time when the clash between science and religion would raise its head. And it was no co-incidence that in the Victorian era, the scientific body of knowledge and study became much more professional and its effects upon society started to become more profound and tangible in the face of rapid industrialization and the emergence of the railroad. But even in the early 19th century, the idea of a confrontation between science and religion did not seem to arise, and generally religion and scientific study were seen to be in accordance with each other. The evolution theory by Darwin and its subsequent publication can be considered to be the turning point in the relation between religion and science. On the one hand, this was considered, by many theologians, as an open threat to Christianity. On the other, scientists began to see religion as a threat to scientific thinking and approach. As scientific reasoning and theories began to debunk many of the concepts of Christianity as myths and fabrications, it was clear that there would be a tangible impact on how Victorians perceive religion, with the doctrines of Original Sin, Baptism, Reprobation and Eternal Punishment, and its pertinence to society. The flux in which the Victorian society found itself was typified by the writings and poetry of the era. Browning was one of the poets who approached the problem of faith and a person's religious aspirations.

Everett (2006) opines that Browning's shifting religious views personified the challenges that thinkers of the era were subject to. Although Browning approached this issue, there have been differing interpretations of his words and views.1 the manner of his dramatic monologue also serves to make a clear-cut verdict difficult. Such was the strength of Browning's characters and their monologues that it would often be unclear whether the beliefs presented in the monologue were his own or not. On the one hand, in "Johannes Agricola," Browning strikes positions that were in opposition to his belief, and on the other, his monologist David, in "Saul," puts forth a picture of devotion and reflects a pro-Christian stance. But his personal views are open to debate. Browning is also apt to criticize the clergy, though it is not clear whether religion itself is being questioned, or merely the character of some of those who run the church. Such characters can be seen in "Bishop Blougram's apology," where the bishop is seen to be a sort of devil's advocate, someone whose line of reasoning attempts to strike a bond between worldly self-interest and spiritual well being. Also, in "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's," Browning dwells upon the matter of weakness of faith, and misuse and misapplication of scriptures to fulfill selfish ends (as the Bishop parodies the Lord's command to Moses to build him a sanctuary). There are even articles found which detail the 'teachings' of Robert Browning pertaining to religion. Although a verdict on Browning's religious leanings might not be forthcoming, there have been several examples of people not only in the literary circle, but also elsewhere whose religious resolve seemed to have been strengthened in the wake of the challenge posed by scientific thoughts and counterexamples, which were threatening… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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