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English Language and Literature


Cynthia Malone


Nineteenth-century scientific discoveries changed forever the way that reality and truth were defined by placing empirical models foremost not only in the scientific community, but in society in general. This led to the questioning of traditional Christianity, and consequently to the development of spiritualism, a belief in the scientifically verifiable occurrence of communication with the spirits of the dead who provided guidance to those still embodied. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was deeply involved in spiritualism, and himself serves as an example of the controversy because he found his scientific training incompatible with Christianity. Spiritualism drew from both science and religion, and sought the endorsement of the scientific community by using scientific methods and prominent scientists in their investigations. Spiritualism, though it did not persuade either the scientific community or the Christian community, embodies the search for a religion which is compatible with the modern needs for both empirical proof and spirituality.