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Evolutionism: Wikis


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Evolutionism refers to a theory of evolution,[1] specifically to a widely held 19th century belief that organisms are intrinsically bound to improve themselves, and that changes are progressive and arise through inheritance of acquired characters, as in Lamarckism. The belief was extended to include cultural evolution and social evolution.[2] The term is sometimes also used to refer to acceptance of the modern evolutionary synthesis, a scientific theory that describes how biological evolution occurred. In addition, the term is used in a broader sense to cover a world-view on a wide variety of topics, including chemical evolution as an alternative term for abiogenesis or for nucleosynthesis of chemical elements, galaxy formation and evolution, stellar evolution, spiritual evolution, technological evolution and universal evolution, which seeks to explain every aspect of the world in which we live.[3]

In the modern scientific community, the term is considered an anachronism and redundant since the overwhelming majority of scientists accept evolution,[4] and so it is not used. To say someone is a scientist implies evolutionary views.[5] In the creation-evolution controversy, creationists often call those who accept the validity of the modern evolutionary synthesis "evolutionists" and the theory itself as "evolutionism." Some creationists and creationist organizations, such as the Institute of Creation Research, use these terms in an effort to make it appear that evolutionary biology is a form of secular religion.[6][7]


Nineteenth-century usage

Before the 19th century there were a number of hypotheses regarding the evolution of all material phenomena: suns, moons, planets, earth, life, civilization, and society. The number of hypotheses being propounded increased dramatically in the middle of the 19th century[citation needed].

The term evolution was popularised during the 19th century by Herbert Spencer to mean cultural evolution; i.e. the increasing complexity of cultures (see History of the theory of cultural evolution) — it was only later that it acquired its biological meaning[citation needed].

Anthropologists and biologists refer to "evolutionists" in the 19th century as those who believed that the cultures or life forms being studied are evolving to a particular form (see Platonic form). This original theory of evolution was seen as pseudo-science by its contemporaries, held in similar regard to phrenology[citation needed]. Very few scientists today, if any, believe that evolution in culture or biology works in this way, and serious discussions generally take caution to distance themselves from that perspective.[citation needed] Evolutionary biology explains biotic changes in terms of internal processes and gradual development as a natural progression of previously existing lifeforms. Evolution neither denies nor requires a role for divine intervention[citation needed].

Modern usage

In modern times, the term evolution is widely used, but the terms evolutionism and evolutionist are not used in the scientific community[citation needed] to refer to the biological discipline as the term is considered both redundant and anachronistic[citation needed], though it has been used in discussing the creation-evolution controversy.[5]

The Institute for Creation Research, however, in order to treat evolution as a category of religions, including atheism, fascism, humanism and occultism, commonly uses the words evolutionism and evolutionist to describe the consensus of mainstream science and the scientists subscribing to it, thus implying through language that the issue is a matter of religious belief.[7] The basis of this argument is to establish that the creation-evolution controversy is essentially one of interpretation of evidence, without any overwhelming proof (beyond current scientific theories) on either side. Creationists tend to use the term evolutionism in order to suggest that the theory of evolution and creationism are equal in a philosophical debate.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Kirkpatrick, E. M.; Davidson, George D.; Seaton, M. A.; Simpson, J. R. (1985). Chambers concise 20th century dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers. ISBN 0-550-10553-0. 
  2. ^ Allen, R. T.; Allen, Robert W. (1994). Chambers encyclopedic English dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers. ISBN 0-550-11000-3. 
  3. ^ "Evolutionism"., Colorado Springs, Colorado 80949. 2002–2008. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  4. ^ "Nearly all scientists (97%) say humans and other living things have evolved over time", Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media, Pew Research Center, 9 July 2009
  5. ^ a b J. B. Gough (1983). "The Supposed Dichotomy between Creationism and Evolution". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  6. ^ Michael Ruse (March 2003). "Perceptions in science: Is Evolution a Secular Religion? -- Ruse". Science. pp. 299 (5612): 1523. Retrieved 2008-12-05. "A major complaint of the Creationists, those who are committed to a Genesis-based story of origins, is that evolution--and Darwinism in particular--is more than just a scientific theory. They object that too often evolution operates as a kind of secular religion, pushing norms and proposals for proper (or, in their opinion, improper) action." 
  7. ^ a b Steven Linke (August 28, 1992). "A Visit to the ICR Museum". TalkOrigins Archive. Retrieved 2008-12-05. "In fact, true science supports the Biblical worldview... However, science does not support false religions (e.g. atheism, evolutionism, pantheism, humanism, etc.)" 
  8. ^ Moore, John (2008). "Creationism vs. Evolutionism". Answers in Genesis. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 


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