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Chapter 2 - The Nineteenth-Century Origins of the Problem

Naturalistic Metaphysics and the Dead Ends of Victorian Theology

from Part I - Modern Historians on ‘Science’ and ‘Religion’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2022

Peter Harrison
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
John Milbank
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

In the latter half of the nineteenth century science came to be seen as providing the model for seeking truth. This led to a reorganization of all of the disciplines, including theology. We have also come to see the nineteenth century as a period in which a new set of assumptions about science and religion was introduced that continues to shape how we currently view their relationship. The appearance of Draper’s History of the Conflict between Science and Religion in 1874, in which the conflict thesis is fully developed for the first time, is no coincidence. One of the things that historians can do is open up current discussions by showing the paths not taken that were live options at one point, before new assumptions constrained and narrowed thinking. This chapter examines how scientific naturalists like T. H. Huxley attempted to constrain thinking about science and religion, how those constraints began to shape debates, and how major Christian theologians of the period responded to this development, whether through resistance or conformity.

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After Science and Religion
Fresh Perspectives from Philosophy and Theology
, pp. 35 - 58
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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