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Intellectual Freedom

Intellectual Freedom

(p.153) Chapter Five Intellectual Freedom
Huxley's Church and Maxwell's Demon
Matthew Stanley
University of Chicago Press

The previous chapter laid the foundation for the argument that the central controversy in the control of Victorian science education was not religion, but rather sectarianism and dogmatism. Closer inspection of Huxley’s attacks on theology and the established church, particularly through his narratives of the history of religion, shows that the fundamental point of contention was the issue of the compulsion of belief. He argued that the practice of science could only be done in a space of intellectual liberty, which certain theological institutions had been working to constrain. Huxley’s Church Scientific then, can be seen less as a fortress against God and more as a space for free inquiry where theists could be quite comfortable. Maxwell’s evangelical values are then examined to show their unexpected overlap with Huxley’s defense of liberty: hostility to institutional authority, avoidance of compulsion, and commitment to individual decision-making. The naturalistic and theistic values here also converge on the role of the Bible in education.

Keywords:   James Clerk Maxwell, Thomas Henry Huxley, intellectual freedom, sectarianism, dogma, science education, evangelicalism, ecumenicism, John Tyndall, Belfast Address

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