This work discusses the communication of Darwinism in the periodic press of Brazil, focusing on the underling beliefs and values of the boundary work between science and religion. Historians have argued that the general press was probably more important than books in shaping the public’s understanding of new scientific ideas, because they reached a broader readership and held opposite opinions from different contributors and reader’s letters. Periodicals are a fruitful medium to undertake a research of how scientists, religious man and the general public interpreted Darwinism and the social dynamics behind the conflicts of opinions. Articles were selected using a search tool for words in the Brazilian database Hemeroteca Digital of Fundação Biblioteca Nacional. The terms used were: Darwin, origin of species, Darwinism and Evolutionism. The period studied was 1859 (the Origin of Species publication year) until the end of a period called “catholic reaction”, around 1950. The location was the state of Rio de Janeiro, where the federal capital of Brazil was located. In the majority of articles studied what was called as Darwinism was actually a mixture of ideas of Darwin, Lamarck, Haeckel and Spencer. Darwinism was cultivated as pure materialism or denounced as a theology disguised as science. In the same way, materialism could be attacked and the theological aspect defended. The arguments for and against evolutionary ideas were often the same and on both sides there is a common desire and moral duty of conquering the truth and broadcasting it, preventing future generations from believing false ideas. Therefore, the authority over truth is in stake and the discussions involve a power dispute over education.

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Darwinism and religion in the Brazilian periodic press (1859-1950)

Brunah Schall   Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil

This work discusses the communication of Darwinism in the periodic press of Brazil, focusing on the underling beliefs and values of the boundary work between science and religion. Historians have argued that the general press was probably more important than books in shaping the public’s understanding of new scientific ideas, because they reached a broader readership and held opposite opinions from different contributors and reader’s letters. Periodicals are a fruitful medium to undertake a research of how scientists, religious man and the general public interpreted Darwinism and the social dynamics behind the conflicts of opinions. Articles were selected using a search tool for words in the Brazilian database Hemeroteca Digital of Fundação Biblioteca Nacional. The terms used were: Darwin, origin of species, Darwinism and Evolutionism. The period studied was 1859 (the Origin of Species publication year) until the end of a period called “catholic reaction”, around 1950. The location was the state of Rio de Janeiro, where the federal capital of Brazil was located. In the majority of articles studied what was called as Darwinism was actually a mixture of ideas of Darwin, Lamarck, Haeckel and Spencer. Darwinism was cultivated as pure materialism or denounced as a theology disguised as science. In the same way, materialism could be attacked and the theological aspect defended. The arguments for and against evolutionary ideas were often the same and on both sides there is a common desire and moral duty of conquering the truth and broadcasting it, preventing future generations from believing false ideas. Therefore, the authority over truth is in stake and the discussions involve a power dispute over education.

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