Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) was a British social theorist, considered one of the foremost savants of the Victorian era. Although he was rightly criticized by Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), Spencer is still recognized as one of the forerunners of the evolutionary approach in social sciences. In his sociological reflection on religion, he traces a comparative–historical analysis of religious ideas and institutions from their earliest cults to the diversification of religious faith and the emergence of agnosticism in modern societies. According to him, agnosticism increases in industrial societies because when science supersedes religion to explain reality, scientific knowledge reinforces rather than settles the great enigma of existence, which has always been the object of speculation for religion.

In Ecclesiastical Institutions, Spencer conducts an inquiry into the sources of modern ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles