creation-evolution controversy, those who accept the scientific theoryof biological evolutionby natural selectionor genetic driftare 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 ideologysuch 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 communityas 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 evolutionand creationismare 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 Spencerto mean cultural evolution; i.e. the increasing complexityof 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
beliefrather than scientific study. Conversely, creationistsuse 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.
* Carneiro, Robert, "Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology: A Critical History" ISBN 0-8133-3766-6
* (on the applicability of this notion to the study of
* 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 biologyis 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").
* [http://www.ncseweb.org/ National Center for Science Education] - The
National Center for Science Education
* [http://www.talkorigins.org/ Talk.Origins Archive] - the
* [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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