The conflict between religious and scientific perspectives became more marked with the publishing of Lyell's Principles of Geology and Darwin's The Origin of Species. The decline in faith caused by these, and other evolving attitudes and ideas, led Matthew Arnold to comment:

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

In Dover Beach, Arnold offers a replacement for the benefits of faith: love between men. Despite this alternative, the poem reveals Arnold?s desperation towards man, who is 'Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, / Where ignorant armies clash by night.' The contrast between the original optimism of the poem and its conclusion highlights the conflict that the poem represents.

In examining the conflict of science and religion, Arnold focuses upon the central divisive force in Victorian England. To dismiss religion altogether is symbolic of the progressive nature of the time. The beauty and clarity of the work, conveyed through masterful language and imagery, show that times of conflict generate beauty and meaning.