Golden Age of Freethought
The golden age of freethought describes the socio-political movement promoting freethought that developed in the mid 19th-century United States. Freethought is a philosophical position that holds that ideas and opinions should be based on science and reason, and not restricted by authority, tradition, or religion. It began around 1856 and lasted at least through the end of the century; author Susan Jacoby places the end of the Golden Age at the start of World War I. The Golden Age was encouraged by the lectures of the extremely popular agnostic orator Robert G. Ingersoll, the popularization of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, the push for woman’s suffrage, and other political, scientific, and social trends that clashed with religious orthodoxy and caused people to question their traditional ideas about the world.
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