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Justification by Verification: The Scientific Challenge to the Moral Authority of Christianity in Modern America

Justification by Verification: The Scientific Challenge to the Moral Authority of Christianity in Modern America

Chapter:
(p.82) Chapter 4 Justification by Verification: The Scientific Challenge to the Moral Authority of Christianity in Modern America
Source:
After Cloven Tongues of Fire
Author(s):
David A. Hollinger
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691158426.003.0004

Historians have observed that Victorian, Edwardian, and Progressive intellectuals embraced science with “religious” zeal. This chapter details the distinctly Protestant style and tone of that zeal. A function of religious images was to enable scientific intellectuals and their supporters to think of science as the practice of exactly the virtues for which Christianity was then most admired by educated citizens of Great Britain and the United States. Thinking of science in these terms enabled them to present scientists as the successors to the clergy as the moral models for modern living. The endlessly repeated assertion that the British agnostic scientist, T. H. Huxley, had enough “real Christianity” in him “to save the soul” of every person in the British Isles is a convenient emblem for this discourse.

Keywords:   Christianity, science, Protestants, Protestantism, religious images, scientists, T. H. Huxley

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