Mamas versus Genes: Notes from the Culture Wars
Humanity discovered evolution just a little more than a century ago. For the span of a few generations we thought this meant that the future belonged to mankind. During the Victorian era and up to World War I, it seemed that we were slated to be benevolent rulers of the entire planet. This brief period of optimism had barely time to blossom before it already seemed part of a nostalgic past. As we approach the end of the century it is getting more and more difficult to believe that we are making progress toward the rational control of evolutionary processes. Indeed, the very concept of evolution is coming under attack.
Despite these setbacks, evolution still seems the best way to explain what has happened in the past, what is happening now, and, to a certain extent, what will happen in the future. But in order to understand events in human history from the evolutionary perspective, which so far has taken into account changes in the biological structure and function of living organisms, must be expanded to include events of a different kind, following different laws from those that hold for the transmission of genes--changes that take place in the realm of society and culture.
Scholars have debated the relative contributions of biology and culture to human evolution, especially after Edward O. Wilson formulated the theses of sociobiological determinism. The question is whether changes in art, science, religion, economics, politics, and other cultural systems obey