In the creation-evolution controversy, those who accept the scientific theory of biological evolution by natural selection or genetic drift are often called "evolutionists", and the theory of evolution itself is referred to as "evolutionism" by creationists. This term is used to suggest that evolution is an ideology such as creationism and other "-isms". In this way, creationists support their claim that the scientific theory of evolution is in its basics a belief, dogma, ideology or even a religion, rather than a scientific theory. 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. The terms "evolutionism" and "evolutionist" are rarely used in the scientific community as self-descriptive terms.

"Evolutionism" is defined by the OED as "the theory of evolution, evolutionary assumptions or principles". Creationists tend to use the term evolutionism in order to suggest that evolution and creationism are equal in a philosophical debate.

Development of usage

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). Very few scientists today, if any, believe that evolution in culture or biology works that way, and serious discussions generally take caution to distance themselves from that perspective.

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. 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.

In modern times, the term "evolution" is widely used, but the terms "evolutionism" and "evolutionist" are rarely used in scientific circles to refer to the biological discipline. 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. Advocacy of such theory was called evolutionism.

Most scientists object to the terms "evolutionism" and "evolutionist" because the -ism and -ist suffixes accentuate belief rather than scientific study. Conversely, creationists use those same two terms partly because the terms accentuate belief, and partly perhaps because they provide a way to package their opposition into one group, seemingly atheist and materialist, designations which are considered to be irrelevant to natural science.

ee also

* Darwinism
* Scientism



* Carneiro, Robert, "Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology: A Critical History" ISBN 0-8133-3766-6
* (on the applicability of this notion to the study of social evolution).
* Review of "Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise", "The Times" Tuesday, November 15, 1836; pg. 3; Issue 16261; col E. ("annihilates the doctrine of spontaneous and progressive evolution of life, and its impious corollary, chance")
* Review of Charles Darwin's "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" "The Times" Friday, December 13, 1872; pg. 4; Issue 27559; col A. ("His [Darwin's] thorough-going 'evolutionism' tends to eliminate . . . .")
* Ruse, Michael. 2003. " [http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/299/5612/1523 Is Evolution a Secular Religion?] " Science 299:1523-1524 (concluding that evolutionary biology is not a religion in any sense but noting that several evolutionary biologists, such as Edward O. Wilson, in their roles as citizens concerned about getting the public to deal with reality, have made statements like "evolution is a myth that is now ready to take over Christianity").

External links

* [http://www.ncseweb.org/ National Center for Science Education] - The National Center for Science Education
* [http://www.talkorigins.org/ Talk.Origins Archive] - the Talk.origins archive
* [http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/evolutionism.htm Evolutionism] - seven different types of evolution are defined and disputed
* [http://www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoEvidence.html Evidence for evolution]
* [http://www.evolutionpages.com/Writing.htm Evolution pages]
* [http://www.rit.edu/~maa2454/Evolution.pdf Evolution in the Islamic Tradition]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • evoluţionism — EVOLUŢIONÍSM s.n. 1. Concepţie filozofică potrivit căreia Universul, Pământul, fiinţele vii, societatea etc. trec printr un proces istoric de evoluţie (dezvoltare) şi sunt privite din punctul de vedere al acestei dezvoltări. 2. (În sens restrâns) …   Dicționar Român

  • evolutionism — evolutionism, evolutionary theory In the nineteenth century, evolutionism was a current of thought based on a biological analogy , but distinguished from Darwinian theory by its deterministic nature. Darwin s general theory of evolution claims… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Evolutionism — Ev o*lu tion*ism, n. The theory of, or belief in, evolution. See {Evolution}, 6 and 7. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • evolutionism — evolutionist ► NOUN ▪ a person who believes in the theories of evolution and natural selection. DERIVATIVES evolutionism noun …   English terms dictionary

  • evolutionism — noun see evolution …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • evolutionism — ev·o·lu·tion·ism (ĕv ə lo͞oʹshə nĭz əm, ē və ) n. 1. A theory of biological evolution, especially that formulated by Charles Darwin. 2. Advocacy of or belief in biological evolution.   ev o·luʹtion·ist n. * * * …   Universalium

  • evolutionism — noun a) Any of several theories that explain the evolution of systems or organisms. b) The advocacy of Darwinian evolution by natural selection (Darwinism). See Also: evolutionist …   Wiktionary

  • evolutionism — Discredited late 19th and early 20th century doctrine associating the changes of evolution with a progressive view of social change, positive attitudes to competition and war, and justification of inequalities of power. See also evolutionary… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • evoluţionísm — s. n. (sil. ţi o ) …   Romanian orthography

  • evolutionism — n. theory of evolution …   English contemporary dictionary

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