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Religion and Evolution in Progressive Era Political Economy: Adversaries or Allies?

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Author Info

  • Thomas C. Leonard

Abstract

Evangelical Protestantism and evolutionary science comfortably coexisted in Progressive Era American political economy. Leading progressive economists, many of them evangelicals attached to the Social Gospel movement, routinely assimilated ideas borrowed from evolutionary science—heredity, selection, fitness, and race—into their religiously motivated project of economic reform. The Social Gospel economists' merger of evolutionary ideas and Protestant belief was enabled by two key features of Progressive Era thought: one, the Social Gospel was itself already (in part) an accommodation to the implications of post-Darwinian evolutionary thought, and, two, Progressive Era evolutionary science was protean, fragmented, and plural, enabling economists to enlist evolutionary ideas in support of diverse, even opposing, positions in political economy.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Duke University Press in its journal History of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 43 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (Fall)
Pages: 429-469

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Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:43:y:2011:i:3:p:429-469

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Keywords: religion; evolution; Progressive Era; Social Gospel;

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