Darwinism was embraced by the American intellectuals in the late 19th century. Initially, it was considered as the development of the natural science, but later it has significant impact on the society. Darwinism in American society is viewed as the stratification of the society based on wealth. In this case, wealthy people in the American society was term ‘fit’ to survive and progress in life, while the poor once was seen to be ‘unfit’ to survive to reproduce and progress(Leonard, 2009). Darwinism originated from the theory of survival for the fittest which was established by Charles Darwin in the 19th century(Rogers, 2014). The conceptualization of Darwinism change the traditional worldview held by the American society. During the period of nation’s independence the majority of the American were not evangelical Christians. However, Darwinism made the overwhelming majority of the Americans to accept the biblical theories that universe was the creation of God. As a result, the Darwinism brought significant change in the American society(Rogers, 2014). Analysis indicated that acceptance of Darwinism in the American society took away the basic human rights that where declared by Thomas Jefferson during independence that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable right.” However, Darwinism was on the view that American society has evolved through a process of natural selection where successful people survive and propagate as well as trampled on the rights others.
Other changes that were witnessed in the American society as a result of Darwinism was the race relations. Although not all American believed in the traditional Christian worldview which advocated for racial equality, they lived with the universal assumption that all human being were descendants of one couple and therefore were related(Zolberg, 2008). However, the acceptance of Darwinism significantly changed the intellectual landscape of America. According to Charles Darwin’s theory, it was practically impossible to believe on racial equality. Darwinism segregated the society based on the economic status, ethnicity and majority. For example, the African-American and the minority in the society were considered to have inferior to the White-Americans in the society. It is important to understand that Darwinism did not introduced racism in the American society since it started in the 17th century during the period of slavery before the Darwinism.The other change that was attributed to Darwinism was the lack of essential difference between human being and animal. Some of the leading Darwinists have clearly stated that “Man is an animal.” This means that human being is nothing more than an animal, which is the premise reasoning of Darwinism. Based on this premise, Darwinism concluded that human being lacked the free will.
However, Christians argued that Darwinism in the American society explicitly promote inherent inferiority of the recent immigrants which was based upon racial or ethnic grounds. In addition, the restrictive immigration policies discriminated Protestants originating from the northern European(Zolberg, 2008). During the Progressive Era, Darwinist leaders argued that relaxing restrictive immigration policies could lead to wage suppression thus altering the labor legislation.
Due to these changes American society witnessed the increase rise of eugenic movement and ‘scientific racism.” The main idea of proponents of eugenics movements was to convince the American society that human being should be in charge of his/her own evolution and this should happen by choosing who procreate with(Rogers, 2014). This means that man should be free to choose who sire children with without any coercion.
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