Evolutionary Science and Christian Belief in Progressive Era Political Economy: Adversaries or Allies?

25 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2008 Last revised: 7 Sep 2008

See all articles by Thomas C. (Tim) Leonard

Thomas C. (Tim) Leonard

Princeton University - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 29, 2008

Abstract

Historians often make Christian belief and evolutionary science adversaries (as perhaps best exemplified by accounts of the 1925 Scopes trial), but Progressive Era American political economy allied Christian belief and evolutionary science. Leading progressive economists, notably the evangelicals attached to the Social Gospel movement, readily assimilated Darwinism to their religiously motivated project of economic reform. This essay argues that the progressive economists' merger of evolutionary science and Christian belief was made possible by the fact that the Social Gospel was itself already (in part) an accommodation to the implications of Darwinism, and that Progressive Era evolutionary science was protean, fragmented and plural, enabling intellectuals to enlist evolutionary science in support of diverse, even opposed positions in political economy.

Keywords: Social Gospel, Darwinism, evolutionary science, Progressive Era economics

JEL Classification: B10, B13, B15

Suggested Citation

Leonard, Thomas C. (Tim), Evolutionary Science and Christian Belief in Progressive Era Political Economy: Adversaries or Allies? (June 29, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1166622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1166622

Thomas C. (Tim) Leonard (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.princeton.edu/~tleonard

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