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Evolutionism refers to the biological concept 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 occurs. 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][4]

Since the overwhelming majority of scientists accepts evolution,[5] the term is seldom used in the scientific community. In the context of modern biology, to say someone is a scientist generally implies evolutionary views.[6] 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.[7][8]


Modern use

In modern times, the term evolution is widely used, but the terms evolutionism and evolutionist are seldom used in the scientific community to refer to the biological discipline as the term is considered both redundant and anachronistic, though it has been used in discussing the creation-evolution controversy.[6]

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.[8] 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 an attempt to suggest that the theory of evolution and creationism are equal in a philosophical debate.[9]

See also


  1. Kirkpatrick, E. M.; Davidson, George D.; Seaton, M. A.; Simpson, J. R. (1985). . Edinburgh: Chambers. . 
  2. Allen, R. T.; Allen, Robert W. (1994). . Edinburgh: Chambers. . 
  3. . AllAboutGOD.com, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80949. 2002–2008. http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/evolutionism.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  4. Bitbol, Olivier; Darrigol (1992). . Atlantica Séguier Frontières. p. 134. . http://books.google.com/books?id=3SlJsTH1ehsC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA134. 
  5. "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
  6. a b J. B. Gough (1983). . National Center for Science Education. http://ncse.com/cej/4/2/supposed-dichotomy-between-creationism-evolution. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  7. Michael Ruse (March 2003). . Science. pp. 299 (5612): 1523. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/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." 
  8. a b Steven Linke (August 28, 1992). . TalkOrigins Archive. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/icr-visit/linke.html. 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.)" 
  9. Moore, John (2008). . Answers in Genesis. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2008/01/24/attention-to-word-meaning. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 


  • Carneiro, Robert, Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology: A Critical History ISBN 0-8133-3766-6
  • Korotayev, Andrey (2004). (First Edition ed.). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. .  (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. 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").