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Divine VariationsHow Christian Thought Became Racial Science$
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Terence Keel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780804795401

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804795401.001.0001

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The Ghost of Christian Creationism

The Ghost of Christian Creationism

Racial Dispositions and Progressive Era Public Health Research

(p.83) 3 The Ghost of Christian Creationism
Divine Variations

Terence Keel

Stanford University Press

Chapter 3 explores how polygenist carryovers emerged in early twentieth-century medical and public health studies on the links between race and disease. This persistence further embedded ideas about race derived from Christian intellectual history into the methods and reasoning of modern scientists and public health researchers. In the early twentieth century, the concept of biological determinism—the idea that the fixed biological makeup of a racial group determines its members’ health, behavior, and intelligence—reoccupies the epistemic space once filled explicitly by a theological view of nature. This chapter also introduces the work of the African American physician, ethicist, and social hygienist Charles V. Roman, who departed from the racial logic of his time. Roman stressed instead that the idea of common human ancestry should push public health researchers to think more critically about the social and environmental factors shaping health outcomes and black susceptibility to disease.

Keywords:   secular creationism, public health science, biodeterminism, Charles V. Roman, scientific racism

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