Related Links

* Religious Paradigm and Social Control:
My research

* More on the future of Human Cloning:
Bob Scott Research

* Relation between eugenics and African Americans:
Juluette Bartlett Pack (1972)

Throughout history many social reform movements have been founded on scientific principles. As I argued earlier, toward the end of the nineteenth century the growth of imperialism focused attention on the race question and many biological theories were used to justify claims of white superiority. While most agreed with the notion of a Darwinian struggle for existence, the mode of inheritance many adopted was Lamarckian. The social crux of eugenics is reflected in that several theories were drawn upon to justify it. It's as though eugenicists drew from a bank of scientific knowledge until they were able to converge several theories to satisfy their social doctrines. And while Darwinism is commonly linked to eugenics, it was in fact only one component in a web of interaction between science and imperialist ideology.

Eugenics belonged to the climate of opinion that produced the conservative social Darwinism. There is no doubt that a close connection exists between an emphasis on heredity and a conservative social outlook. Many strands of eugenics thought were a scientific disguise for conservative, often harsh, indictments of classes and races and eugenics became, for a time, predominately a conservative creed. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that scientific theories reflect the social values of those who create the models used to describe nature. For example, in recent years there has been a general move toward accepting that social values did play a role in shaping Darwin's thought, and that his theory must be seen as a sophisticated version of nineteenth century progressivism (Bowler 1990:273). In the end, a circular continuum remains. We have science serving as a pretext to social climates and social climates serving as a pretext to science.

However, because we are dealing with such nebulous concepts spread over space and time, it is difficult to draw any direct relationships between scientific theory and social policy. The connections are significant enough to convince some that genetics would not have developed the way it has if it weren't for the public interest in the role played by heredity in human affairs (Bowler 1990:276). Although eugenics was a great stain on fabric of history, its unfolding unfortunately is not unique. Throughout history groups have turned to either religion or science, usually both, to validate their social motives. As seen in the examples of the Great Awakening and slavery in America, such validation commonly is not parallel with the genuine meaning of the religious or scientific creed and, in hindsight, results in some of the most monumental apologies of humanity.


Audra Milligan @ 2001