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Agnosticism - The Philosophical Sources Of Agnosticism, Victorian Agnosticism, Thomas Huxley And The Coining Of Agnostic, Agnosticism In The Twentieth Century

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The heyday of agnosticism was in Victorian Britain between the 1860s and the 1890s. Its leading exponents were Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) (who coined the term), Leslie Stephen (1832–1904), John Tyndall (1820–1893), and William Kingdon Clifford (1845–1879). This group all shared a disillusionment with orthodox Christianity; an opposition to the dominance of British science and education by the Anglican establishment; belief in the theory of evolution and in the importance of science more broadly; and an aspiration to replace dogmatism and superstition with a freethinking, scientific, and ethical religion (see Lightman, 1987, 1989, 2002; Pyle; Turner, 1974, 1993). While agnosticism may have been an antitheological and secularist movement, it was certainly not antireligious. The Victorian agnostics were intensely moralistic people who had a deep sense of the spiritual, especially as evoked by the wonders of the natural world.

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