By the time Bodington's essay was published in 1878, Darwin's theories of "natural selection" had gained great deal of significance and the two opposed camps of "monogenists
" and "polygenists" were already dealing with the concepts of evolution and its implication for the place of God.
continued to insist on the single origin and essential similitude of all peoples but were increasingly challenged by scientific theories of multiple origins and immutable differences between human groups (Kenny: 2007).
Darwin's thinking also contradicted the core claim of the monogenists
. For both groups of creationists, human variation had significance because it resulted from an act of divide creation.
Hybridity was central to both monogenist and polygenist theories as a criterion defining the boundaries between species of animals and possibly also between races of people: members of the same species were interfertile while those of different species usually were not.
On the tensions between monogenist and polygenist thought, see also Bolt 20 and Lorimer 134-36.
Among other Society members, we may discern three groups -- the Christian monogenists
, the hierarchical monogenist
geographers and naturalists (both secular and religious), and the polygenist colonial delegates and geographers.
The idea of inherent racial virtues and vices is challenged to some extent by the idea of monogenist
But Blumenbach, in the company of many other eighteenth century monogenists
, also pointed to the transient and environmentally caused nature of such differences.
explained racial differences by the effects of thousands of years of environmental forces, particularly climate, diet, disease, and the "state of civilization." Proslavery critics of polygenism drew heavily from the research of Blumenbach, Cuvier, Buffon, and Prichard, demonstrating the slow changes in physiology and psychology wrought by divergent conditions.
In the United States at this period, the issues of racial difference and biological evolution were being hotly debated between monogenists
, who held that humans had originated as a single type but that due to environmental factors had evolved into various racial groups, and polygenists, who felt that humankind had from its earliest beginnings been divided into distinct races.
If black men possessed an aberrant skin color, if they differed anatomically, psychologically, and morally from white men, it was due, according to the monogenists
, to different physical and social environments.
As orthodox Christians, most Southerners were monogenists
, holding for the common origin of the various races as children of one God.