Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England

Synopsis

The Victorian crisis of faith has dominated discussions of religion and the Victorians. Stories are frequently told of prominent Victorians such as George Eliot losing their faith. This crisis is presented as demonstrating the intellectual weakness of Christianity as it was assaulted by new lines of thought such as Darwinism and biblical criticism. This study serves as a corrective to that narrative. It focuses on freethinking and Secularist leaders who came to faith. As sceptics, they hadimbibed all the latest ideas that seemed to undermine faith; nevertheless, they went on to experience a crisis of doubt, and then to defend in their writings and lectures the intellectual cogency of Christianity. The Victorian crisis of doubt was surprisingly large. Telling this story serves to restore its true proportion and to reveal the intellectual strength of faith in the nineteenth century.