Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809–1882) and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Also called Darwinian theory, it originally included the broad concepts of transmutation of species or of evolution which gained general scientific acceptance after Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, including concepts which predated Darwin's theories. It subsequently referred to the specific concepts of natural selection, the Weismann barrier, or the central dogma of molecular biology.[1] Though the term usually refers strictly to biological evolution, creationists have appropriated it to refer to the origin of life, and it has even been applied to concepts of cosmic evolution, both of which have no connection to Darwin's work. It is therefore considered the belief and acceptance of Darwin's and of his predecessors' work—in place of other theories, including divine design and extraterrestrial origins.[2][3]

English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term Darwinism in April 1860.[4] It was used to describe evolutionary concepts in general, including earlier concepts published by English philosopher Herbert Spencer. Many of the proponents of Darwinism at that time, including Huxley, had reservations about the significance of natural selection, and Darwin himself gave credence to what was later called Lamarckism. The strict neo-Darwinism of German evolutionary biologist August Weismann gained few supporters in the late 19th century. During the approximate period of the 1880s to about 1920, sometimes called "the eclipse of Darwinism", scientists proposed various alternative evolutionary mechanisms which eventually proved untenable. The development of the modern synthesis in the early 20th century, incorporating natural selection with population genetics and Mendelian genetics, revived Darwinism in an updated form.[5]

While the term Darwinism has remained in use amongst the public when referring to modern evolutionary theory, it has increasingly been argued by science writers such as Olivia Judson and Eugenie Scott that it is an inappropriate term for modern evolutionary theory.[6][7] For example, Darwin was unfamiliar with the work of the Moravian scientist and Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel,[8] and as a result had only a vague and inaccurate understanding of heredity. He naturally had no inkling of later theoretical developments and, like Mendel himself, knew nothing of genetic drift, for example.[9][10] In the United States, creationists often use the term "Darwinism" as a pejorative term in reference to beliefs such as scientific materialism, but in the United Kingdom the term has no negative connotations, being freely used as a shorthand for the body of theory dealing with evolution, and in particular, with evolution by natural selection.[6]

Conceptions of Darwinism

Editorial cartoon depicting Charles Darwin as an ape (1871)
As evolution became widely accepted in the 1870s, caricatures of Charles Darwin with the body of an ape or monkey symbolised evolution.[11]

While the term Darwinism had been used previously to refer to the work of Erasmus Darwin in the late 18th century, the term as understood today was introduced when Charles Darwin's 1859 book On the Origin of Species was reviewed by Thomas Henry Huxley in the April 1860 issue of the Westminster Review.[12] Having hailed the book as "a veritable Whitworth gun in the armoury of liberalism" promoting scientific naturalism over theology, and praising the usefulness of Darwin's ideas while expressing professional reservations about Darwin's gradualism and doubting if it could be proved that natural selection could form new species,[13] Huxley compared Darwin's achievement to that of Nicolaus Copernicus in explaining planetary motion:

What if the orbit of Darwinism should be a little too circular? What if species should offer residual phenomena, here and there, not explicable by natural selection? Twenty years hence naturalists may be in a position to say whether this is, or is not, the case; but in either event they will owe the author of "The Origin of Species" an immense debt of gratitude.... And viewed as a whole, we do not believe that, since the publication of Von Baer's "Researches on Development," thirty years ago, any work has appeared calculated to exert so large an influence, not only on the future of Biology, but in extending the domination of Science over regions of thought into which she has, as yet, hardly penetrated.[4]

These are the basic tenets of evolution by natural selection as defined by Darwin:

  1. More individuals are produced each generation than can survive.
  2. Phenotypic variation exists among individuals and the variation is heritable.
  3. Those individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive.
  4. When reproductive isolation occurs new species will form.

Another important evolutionary theorist of the same period was the Russian geographer and prominent anarchist Peter Kropotkin who, in his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), advocated a conception of Darwinism counter to that of Huxley. His conception was centred around what he saw as the widespread use of co-operation as a survival mechanism in human societies and animals. He used biological and sociological arguments in an attempt to show that the main factor in facilitating evolution is cooperation between individuals in free-associated societies and groups. This was in order to counteract the conception of fierce competition as the core of evolution, which provided a rationalization for the dominant political, economic and social theories of the time; and the prevalent interpretations of Darwinism, such as those by Huxley, who is targeted as an opponent by Kropotkin. Kropotkin's conception of Darwinism could be summed up by the following quote:

In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense—not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.[14]

— Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), Conclusion

19th-century usage

"Darwinism" soon came to stand for an entire range of evolutionary (and often revolutionary) philosophies about both biology and society. One of the more prominent approaches, summed in the 1864 phrase "survival of the fittest" by Herbert Spencer, later became emblematic of Darwinism even though Spencer's own understanding of evolution (as expressed in 1857) was more similar to that of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck than to that of Darwin, and predated the publication of Darwin's theory in 1859. What is now called "Social Darwinism" was, in its day, synonymous with "Darwinism"—the application of Darwinian principles of "struggle" to society, usually in support of anti-philanthropic political agenda. Another interpretation, one notably favoured by Darwin's half-cousin Francis Galton, was that "Darwinism" implied that because natural selection was apparently no longer working on "civilized" people, it was possible for "inferior" strains of people (who would normally be filtered out of the gene pool) to overwhelm the "superior" strains, and voluntary corrective measures would be desirable—the foundation of eugenics.

In Darwin's day there was no rigid definition of the term "Darwinism", and it was used by opponents and proponents of Darwin's biological theory alike to mean whatever they wanted it to in a larger context. The ideas had international influence, and Ernst Haeckel developed what was known as Darwinismus in Germany, although, like Spencer's "evolution", Haeckel's "Darwinism" had only a rough resemblance to the theory of Charles Darwin, and was not centered on natural selection.[15] In 1886, Alfred Russel Wallace went on a lecture tour across the United States, starting in New York and going via Boston, Washington, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska to California, lecturing on what he called "Darwinism" without any problems.[16]

In his book Darwinism (1889), Wallace had used the term pure-Darwinism which proposed a "greater efficacy" for natural selection.[17][18] George Romanes dubbed this view as "Wallaceism", noting that in contrast to Darwin, this position was advocating a "pure theory of natural selection to the exclusion of any supplementary theory."[19][20] Taking influence from Darwin, Romanes was a proponent of both natural selection and the inheritance of acquired characteristics. The latter was denied by Wallace who was a strict selectionist.[21] Romanes' definition of Darwinism conformed directly with Darwin's views and was contrasted with Wallace's definition of the term.[22]

Other uses

The term Darwinism is often used in the United States by promoters of creationism, notably by leading members of the intelligent design movement, as an epithet to attack evolution as though it were an ideology (an "ism") of philosophical naturalism, or atheism.[23] For example, UC Berkeley law professor and author Phillip E. Johnson makes this accusation of atheism with reference to Charles Hodge's book What Is Darwinism? (1874).[24] However, unlike Johnson, Hodge confined the term to exclude those like American botanist Asa Gray who combined Christian faith with support for Darwin's natural selection theory, before answering the question posed in the book's title by concluding: "It is Atheism."[25][26] Creationists use the term Darwinism, often pejoratively, to imply that the theory has been held as true only by Darwin and a core group of his followers, whom they cast as dogmatic and inflexible in their belief.[27] In the 2008 documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which promotes intelligent design (ID), American writer and actor Ben Stein refers to scientists as Darwinists. Reviewing the film for Scientific American, John Rennie says "The term is a curious throwback, because in modern biology almost no one relies solely on Darwin's original ideas... Yet the choice of terminology isn't random: Ben Stein wants you to stop thinking of evolution as an actual science supported by verifiable facts and logical arguments and to start thinking of it as a dogmatic, atheistic ideology akin to Marxism." [28]

However, Darwinism is also used neutrally within the scientific community to distinguish the modern evolutionary synthesis, sometimes called "neo-Darwinism", from those first proposed by Darwin. Darwinism also is used neutrally by historians to differentiate his theory from other evolutionary theories current around the same period. For example, Darwinism may be used to refer to Darwin's proposed mechanism of natural selection, in comparison to more recent mechanisms such as genetic drift and gene flow. It may also refer specifically to the role of Charles Darwin as opposed to others in the history of evolutionary thought—particularly contrasting Darwin's results with those of earlier theories such as Lamarckism or later ones such as the modern evolutionary synthesis.

In political discussions in the United States, the term is mostly used by its enemies. "It's a rhetorical device to make evolution seem like a kind of faith, like 'Maoism,'" says Harvard University biologist E. O. Wilson. He adds, "Scientists don't call it 'Darwinism'."[29] In the United Kingdom the term often retains its positive sense as a reference to natural selection, and for example British ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins wrote in his collection of essays A Devil's Chaplain, published in 2003, that as a scientist he is a Darwinist.[30]

In his 1995 book Darwinian Fairytales, Australian philosopher David Stove[31] used the term "Darwinism" in a different sense than the above examples. Describing himself as non-religious and as accepting the concept of natural selection as a well-established fact, Stove nonetheless attacked what he described as flawed concepts proposed by some "Ultra-Darwinists." Stove alleged that by using weak or false ad hoc reasoning, these Ultra-Darwinists used evolutionary concepts to offer explanations that were not valid (e.g., Stove suggested that sociobiological explanation of altruism as an evolutionary feature was presented in such a way that the argument was effectively immune to any criticism). Philosopher Simon Blackburn wrote a rejoinder to Stove,[32] though a subsequent essay by Stove's protegee James Franklin's[33] suggested that Blackburn's response actually "confirms Stove's central thesis that Darwinism can 'explain' anything."

See also


  1. ^ Wilkins, John (21 December 1998). "So You Want to be an Anti-Darwinian: Varieties of Opposition to Darwinism". TalkOrigins Archive. Houston, TX: The TalkOrigins Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  2. ^ "…on what evolution explains". Expelled Exposed. Oakland, CA: National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  3. ^ Le Fèvre, Olivier; Marinoni, Christian (6 December 2006). "Do Galaxies Follow Darwinian Evolution?" (Press release). Marseille, France: European Southern Observatory. eso0645. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  4. ^ a b Huxley, T.H. (April 1860). "ART. VIII.—Darwin on the Origin of Species". Westminster Review (Book review). London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy. 17: 541–570. Retrieved 2008-06-19. What if the orbit of Darwinism should be a little too circular?
  5. ^ Bowler 2003, pp. 179, 222–225, 338–339, 347
  6. ^ a b Scott, Eugenie C.; Branch, Glenn (16 January 2009). "Don't Call it 'Darwinism'". Evolution: Education and Outreach. New York: Springer Science+Business Media. 2 (1): 90–94. doi:10.1007/s12052-008-0111-2. ISSN 1936-6426.
  7. ^ Judson, Olivia (15 July 2008). "Let's Get Rid of Darwinism". The New York Times. New York: The New York Times Company. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  8. ^ Sclater, Andrew (June 2006). "The extent of Charles Darwin's knowledge of Mendel". Journal of Biosciences. Bangalore, India: Indian Academy of Sciences / Springer India. 31 (2): 191–193. doi:10.1007/BF02703910. ISSN 0250-5991. PMID 16809850.
  9. ^ Moran, Laurence (22 January 1993). "Random Genetic Drift". TalkOrigins Archive. Houston, TX: The TalkOrigins Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
  10. ^ Hanes, Joel. "What is Darwinism?". TalkOrigins Archive. Houston, TX: The TalkOrigins Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  11. ^ Browne 2002, pp. 376–379
  12. ^ Blinderman, Charles; Joyce, David. "Darwin's Bulldog". The Huxley File. Worcester, MA: Clark University. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  13. ^ Browne 2002, pp. 105–106
  14. ^ Kropotkin 1902, p. 293
  15. ^ Schmitt S. (2009). Haeckel: A German Darwinian? Comptes Rendus Biologies: 332: 110-118.
  16. ^ Tippett, Krista (host); Moore, James (5 February 2009). "Evolution and Wonder: Understanding Charles Darwin". Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett (Transcript). NPR. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  17. ^ Wallace, Alfred Russel. (1889). Darwinism: An Exposition of the Theory of Natural Selection, with Some of Its Applications. Macmillan and Company.
  18. ^ Heilbron, John L. (2003). The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. OUP USA. p. 203. ISBN 978-0195112290
  19. ^ Romanes, John George. (1906). "Darwin and After Darwin: An Exposition of the Darwinian Theory and a Discussion of Post-Darwinian Questions". Volume 2: Heredity and Utility. The Open Court Publishing Company. p. 12
  20. ^ Costa, James T. (2014). Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species. Harvard University Press. p. 274. ISBN 978-0674729698
  21. ^ Bolles, R. C; Beecher, M. D. (1987). Evolution and Learning. Psychology Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0898595420
  22. ^ Elsdon-Baker, F. (2008). Spirited dispute: the secret split between Wallace and Romanes. Endeavour 32(2): 75-78
  23. ^ Scott 2007, "Creation Science Lite: 'Intelligent Design' as the New Anti-Evolutionism," p. 72
  24. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (31 August 1996). "What is Darwinism?". Access Research Network. Colorado Springs, CO. Retrieved 2007-01-04. "This paper was originally delivered as a lecture at a symposium at Hillsdale College, in November 1992. Papers from the Symposium were published in the collection Man and Creation: Perspectives on Science and Theology (Bauman ed. 1993), by Hillsdale College Press, Hillsdale MI 49242."
  25. ^ Ropp, Matthew. "Charles Hodge and His Objection to Darwinism: The Exclusion of Intelligent Design". theRopps.com. Chesterbrook, PA. Retrieved 2007-01-04. Paper for CH506: American Church History, Dr. Nathan Feldmeth, Winter Quarter 1997, "written while a student in the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California."
  26. ^ Hodge 1874
  27. ^ Sullivan, Morris (Spring 2005). "From the Beagle to the School Board: God Goes Back to School". Impact Press. Orlando, FL: Loudmouth Productions (56). Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  28. ^ Rennie, John (9 April 2008). "Ben Stein's Expelled: No Integrity Displayed". Scientific American. Stuttgart: Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. ISSN 0036-8733. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  29. ^ Adler, Jerry (28 November 2005). "Charles Darwin: Evolution of a Scientist". Newsweek. 146 (22). New York: Newsweek LLC. pp. 50–58. ISSN 0028-9604. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  30. ^ Sheahen, Laura. "Religion: For Dummies". Beliefnet. Norfolk, VA: BN Media, LLC. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  31. ^ Stove 1995
  32. ^ Blackburn, Simon (October 1996). "I Rather Think I Am a Darwinian". Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press on behalf of Royal Institute of Philosophy. 71 (278): 605–616. doi:10.1017/s0031819100053523. ISSN 0031-8191. JSTOR 3751128.
  33. ^ Franklin, James (January 1997). "Stove's Anti-Darwinism" (PDF). Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press on behalf of Royal Institute of Philosophy. 72 (279): 133–136. doi:10.1017/s0031819100056692. ISSN 0031-8191. JSTOR 3751309.


Further reading

External links

A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism

"A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" (or "Dissent from Darwinism") was a statement issued in 2001 by the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank based in Seattle, Washington, U.S., best known for its promotion of intelligent design. As part of the Discovery Institute"s Teach the Controversy campaign, the statement expresses skepticism about the ability of random mutations and natural selection to account for the complexity of life, and encourages careful examination of the evidence for "Darwinism", a term intelligent design proponents use to refer to evolution.The statement was published in advertisements under an introduction which stated that its signatories dispute the assertion that Darwin's theory of evolution fully explains the complexity of living things, and dispute that "all known scientific evidence supports [Darwinian] evolution". The Discovery Institute states that the list was first started to refute claims made by promoters of the PBS television series "Evolution" that “virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.” Further names of signatories have been added at intervals, and as of February 2019 it contains over 1000 names. The list continues to be used in Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns in an attempt to discredit evolution and bolster claims that intelligent design is scientifically valid by claiming that evolution lacks broad scientific support.The statement is misleading and ambiguous, using terms with multiple meanings, and presenting a straw man fallacy with its claim that random mutations and natural selection are insufficient to account for the complexity of life, when standard evolution theory involves other factors. Scientists and educators have noted that its signatories, who include historians and philosophers of science as well as scientists, were a minuscule fraction of the numbers of scientists and engineers qualified to sign it. Intelligent design has failed to produce scientific research, and been rejected by the scientific community, including many leading scientific organizations. The statement in the document has also been criticized as being phrased to represent a diverse range of opinions, set in a context which gives it a misleading spin to confuse the public. The listed affiliations and areas of expertise of the signatories have also been criticized.

A Scientific Support for Darwinism

A Scientific Support for Darwinism (And For Public Schools Not To Teach "Intelligent Design" As Science) was a four-day, word-of-mouth petition of scientists in support of evolution. Inspired by Project Steve, it was initiated in 2005 by archaeologist R. Joe Brandon to produce a public response to the Discovery Institute's 2001 petition A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.

The Discovery Institute's petition was publicized in 2005 by media coverage of the Discovery Institute's efforts to introduce "intelligent design" in science classrooms and the opposition to those efforts in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case. Brandon noticed that only about 80 of those appearing on the Dissent petition had expertise in an area relevant to evolution. Therefore, Brandon decided to create a petition of his own of scientists supporting evolution. The petition was hosted at ShovelBums.org, but has since been removed from the site.A total of 7,733 scientists signed a statement affirming their support for evolution over a 4-day period.

Alternatives to evolution by natural selection

Alternatives to evolution by natural selection, also described as non-Darwinian mechanisms of evolution, have been proposed by scholars investigating biology since classical times to explain signs of evolution and the relatedness of different groups of living things. The alternatives in question do not encompass religious points of view such as young or old earth creationism or intelligent design, but are limited to explanations proposed by biologists, though one was confusingly named 'theistic evolution' by Asa Gray.

Where the fact of evolutionary change was accepted but the mechanism proposed by Charles Darwin, natural selection, was denied, explanations of evolution such as Lamarckism, catastrophism, orthogenesis, vitalism, structuralism and mutationism (called saltationism before 1900) were entertained. Different factors motivated people to propose non-Darwinian mechanisms of evolution. Natural selection, with its emphasis on death and competition, did not appeal to some naturalists because they felt it immoral, leaving little room for teleology or the concept of progress in the development of life. Some who came to accept evolution, but disliked natural selection, raised religious objections. Others felt that evolution was an inherently progressive process that natural selection alone was insufficient to explain. Still others felt that nature, including the development of life, followed orderly patterns that natural selection could not explain.

By the start of the 20th century, evolution was generally accepted by biologists but natural selection was in eclipse. Many alternative theories were proposed, but biologists were quick to discount theories such as orthogenesis, vitalism and Lamarckism which offered no mechanism for evolution. Mutationism did propose a mechanism, but it was not generally accepted. The modern synthesis a generation later claimed to sweep away all the alternatives to Darwinian evolution, though some have been revived as molecular mechanisms for them have been discovered.

Darwinian literary studies

Darwinian literary studies (also known as literary Darwinism) is a branch of literary criticism that studies literature in the context of evolution by means of natural selection, including gene-culture coevolution. It represents an emerging trend of neo-Darwinian thought in intellectual disciplines beyond those traditionally considered as evolutionary biology: evolutionary psychology, evolutionary anthropology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, affective neuroscience, behavioural genetics, evolutionary epistemology, and other such disciplines.

Discovery Institute

The Discovery Institute (DI) is a politically conservative non-profit think tank based in Seattle, Washington, that advocates the pseudoscientific concept of intelligent design (ID). Its "Teach the Controversy" campaign aims to permit the teaching of anti-evolution, intelligent-design beliefs in United States public high school science courses in place of accepted scientific theories, positing that a scientific controversy exists over these subjects.

Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns

The Discovery Institute has conducted a series of related public relations campaigns which seek to promote intelligent design while attempting to discredit evolutionary biology, which the Institute terms "Darwinism." The Discovery Institute promotes the pseudoscientific intelligent design movement and is represented by Creative Response Concepts, a public relations firm.Prominent Institute campaigns have been to 'Teach the Controversy' and to allow 'Critical Analysis of Evolution'. Other campaigns have claimed that intelligent design advocates (most notably Richard Sternberg) have been discriminated against, and thus that Academic Freedom bills are needed to protect academics' and teachers' ability to criticise evolution, and that the development of evolutionary theory was historically linked to ideologies such as Nazism and eugenics, claims based on misrepresentation which have been ridiculed by topic experts. These three claims are all publicised in the pro-ID movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the Anti-Defamation League said the film's attempt to blame science for the Nazi Holocaust was outrageous. Other campaigns have included petitions, most notably A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.The theory of evolution is accepted by overwhelming scientific consensus. Intelligent design has been rejected, both by the vast majority of scientists and by court findings, such as Kitzmiller v. Dover, as being a religious view and not science.

Evolution in fiction

Evolution has been an important theme in fiction, including speculative evolution in science fiction, since the late 19th century, though it began before Charles Darwin's time, and reflects progressionist and Lamarckist views as well as Darwin's. Darwinian evolution is pervasive in literature, whether taken optimistically in terms of how humanity may evolve towards perfection, or pessimistically in terms of the dire consequences of the interaction of human nature and the struggle for survival. Other themes include the replacement of humanity, either by other species or by intelligent machines.

Evolutionary economics

Evolutionary economics is part of mainstream economics as well as a heterodox school of economic thought that is inspired by evolutionary biology. Much like mainstream economics, it stresses complex interdependencies, competition, growth, structural change, and resource constraints but differs in the approaches which are used to analyze these phenomena.Evolutionary economics deals with the study of processes that transform economy for firms, institutions, industries, employment, production, trade and growth within, through the actions of diverse agents from experience and interactions, using evolutionary methodology. Evolutionary economics analyses the unleashing of a process of technological and institutional innovation by generating and testing a diversity of ideas which discover and accumulate more survival value for the costs incurred than competing alternatives. The evidence suggests that it could be adaptive efficiency that defines economic efficiency. Mainstream economic reasoning begins with the postulates of scarcity and rational agents (that is, agents modeled as maximizing their individual welfare), with the "rational choice" for any agent being a straightforward exercise in mathematical optimization. There has been renewed interest in treating economic systems as evolutionary systems in the developing field of Complexity economics.Evolutionary economics does not take the characteristics of either the objects of choice or of the decision-maker as fixed. Rather its focus is on the non-equilibrium processes that transform the economy from within and their implications. The processes in turn emerge from actions of diverse agents with bounded rationality who may learn from experience and interactions and whose differences contribute to the change. The subject draws more recently on evolutionary game theory and on the evolutionary methodology of Charles Darwin and the non-equilibrium economics principle of circular and cumulative causation. It is naturalistic in purging earlier notions of economic change as teleological or necessarily improving the human condition.A different approach is to apply evolutionary psychology principles to economics which is argued to explain problems such as inconsistencies and biases in rational choice theory. Basic economic concepts such as utility may be better viewed as due to preferences that maximized evolutionary fitness in the ancestral environment but not necessarily in the current one.

Hindu views on evolution

Hinduism includes a range of viewpoints about the origin of life, creationism and evolution. There is no single story of creation, due to dynamic diversity of Hinduism, and these are derived from various sources like Vedas, some from the Brahmanas, some from Puranas; some are philosophical, based on concepts, and others are narratives. The Rigveda mentions the Hiranyagarbha ("golden egg") as the source of the creation of the Universe, similar to the world egg motif found in the creation myths of many other civilizations. It also contains a myth of proto-Indo-European origin, in which the creation arises out of the dismemberment of a cosmic being (the Purusha) who is sacrificed by the gods. As for the creation of the primordial gods themselves, the Nasadiya Sukta of Rigveda takes a near-agnostic stand, stating that the Gods came into being after the world's creation, and nobody knows when the world first came into being. In the later Puranic texts, the creator god Brahma is described as performing the act of 'creation', or more specifically of 'propagating life within the universe'. Some texts consider him equivalent to the Hiranyagarbha or the Purusha, while others state that he arose out of these. Brahma is a part of the trinity of gods that also includes Vishnu and Shiva, who are responsible for 'preservation' and 'destruction' (of the universe) respectively.

Many Hindu texts mention the cycle of creation and destruction. The Shatapatha Brahmana states that the current human generation descends from Manu, the only man who survived a great deluge after being warned by the God. This legend is comparable to the other flood legends, such as the story of the Noah's Ark mentioned in the Bible and the Quran.Hindus find support for, or foreshadowing of evolutionary ideas in scriptures. For example, the concept of Dashavatara can be seen as having some similarities to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.The first incarnation of Vishnu in the form of a fish resembles the evolutionary origin of fish in the Silurian Period.

In a survey of 909 people, 77% of its respondents in India agreed that enough scientific evidence exists to support Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and 85% of God-believing people said they agree with evolution as well. According to the survey conducted by Pew Forum in the United States, 80% of Hindus agree that evolution is the best explanation for the origin of human life on earth. However, in India, there were minimal references to Darwinism in the 1800s. Elements of Victorian England opposed the idea of Darwinism. Hindus already had present notion of common ancestry between humans and animals. The Hindu dharma believes that the gods have animal features, showing a theory that humans can be reborn again as animals or with their features.

Jonathan Wells (intelligent design advocate)

John Corrigan "Jonathan" Wells (born 1942) is an American biologist, author, and advocate of the pseudoscientific argument of intelligent design. Wells joined the Unification Church in 1974, and subsequently wrote that the teachings of church founder Sun Myung Moon, his own studies at the Unification Theological Seminary and his prayers convinced him to devote his life to "destroying Darwinism." The term Darwinism is often used by intelligent design proponents and other creationists to refer to the scientific consensus on evolution. He gained a PhD in religious studies at Yale University in 1986, then became Director of the Unification Church’s inter-religious outreach organization in New York City. In 1989, he studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a PhD in molecular and cellular biology in 1994. He became a member of several scientific associations and has published in academic journals.

In his book Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? (2000), Wells argues that a number of examples used to illustrate biology textbooks were grossly exaggerated, distorted truth, or were patently false. Wells said that this shows that evolution conflicts with the evidence, and so argued against its teaching in public education. Some reviewers of Icons of Evolution have said that Wells misquoted experts cited as sources and took minor issues out of context, basing his argument on a flawed syllogism. but Wells has responded insisting those accusations are untrue. Wells's views on evolution have been rejected by the scientific community.

Joseph Carroll (scholar)

Joseph Carroll (born 1949) is a scholar in the field of literature and evolution. He is currently Curators’ Professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, where he has taught since 1985.

Carroll's Evolution and Literary Theory was one of the first literary studies to "take the cue from important developments in disciplines such as evolutionary psychology, evolutionary anthropology, and sociobiology," seeing evolutionary biology as an alternative to poststructuralism and rejecting poststructuralism's textualism (the notion that world is made of words) and indeterminancy (the self-subverting character of "discourse").

In the essays collected in Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature and Literature, Carroll has explored the emerging field of literary Darwinism, worked toward building a comprehensive model of human nature, critiqued poststructuralism, traditional humanism, ecocriticism, cognitive rhetoric, and narrow-school evolutionary psychology, and offered examples of practical Darwinist criticism.

In a volume of essays entitled Reading Human Nature, Carroll examined the adaptive function of literature and the other arts, offered Darwinist interpretations of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wuthering Heights, and Hamlet, gave examples of quantitative literary analysis, and reflected on the course of intellectual history from Darwin to the present. In Graphing Jane Austen, Carroll and colleagues has applied empirical methods like an Internet survey of reader responses to an evolutionary analysis of British nineteenth century fiction.

Joseph Carroll has also produced an edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, co-edited volumes 1 and 2 of The Evolutionary Review, and co-edited Evolution, Literature, and Film: A Reader.

Mortal Engines Quartet

The Mortal Engines Quartet is a tetralogy consisting of four novels written by the British author Philip Reeve: Mortal Engines (2001), Predator's Gold (2003), Infernal Devices (2005), and A Darkling Plain (2006). It has also been referred to as the Hungry City Chronicles, although the author has objected to that name, and as the Predator Cities Quartet.


Neo-Darwinism is the interpretation of Darwinian evolution through natural selection as it has variously been modified since it was first proposed. It was early on used to name Charles Darwin's ideas of natural selection separated from his hypothesis of pangenesis as a Lamarckian source of variation involving blending inheritance.In the early 20th century, the concept became associated with the modern synthesis of natural selection and Mendelian genetics that took place at that time.

In the late 20th century and into the 21st century, neo-Darwinism denoted any strong advocacy of Darwin's thinking, such as the gene-centered view of evolution.

Neural Darwinism

Neural Darwinism, a large scale theory of brain function by Gerald Edelman, was initially published in 1978, in a book called The Mindful Brain (MIT Press). It was extended and published in the 1987 book Neural Darwinism – The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection.

In 1972, Edelman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology (shared with Rodney Porter of Great Britain) for his work in immunology showing how the population of lymphocytes capable of binding to a foreign antigen is increased by differential clonal multiplication following antigen discovery. Essentially, this proved that the human body is capable of creating complex adaptive systems as a result of local events with feedback. Edelman's interest in selective systems expanded into the fields of neurobiology and neurophysiology, and in Neural Darwinism, Edelman puts forth a theory called "neuronal group selection". It contains three major parts:

Anatomical connectivity in the brain occurs via selective mechanochemical events that take place epigenetically during development. This creates a diverse primary repertoire by differential reproduction.

Once structural diversity is established anatomically, a second selective process occurs during postnatal behavioral experience through epigenetic modifications in the strength of synaptic connections between neuronal groups. This creates a diverse secondary repertoire by differential amplification.

Reentrant signaling between neuronal groups allows for spatiotemporal continuity in response to real-world interactions. In "The Remembered Present" (1989) and later, "Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind" (1992) and "A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination" (2001; coauthored with Giulio Tononi), Edelman argues that thalamocortical and corticocortical reentrant signaling are critical to generating and maintaining conscious states in mammals.

Quantum Darwinism

Quantum Darwinism is a theory claiming to explain the emergence of the classical world from the quantum world as due to a process of Darwinian natural selection; where the many possible quantum states are selected against in favor of a stable pointer state. It was proposed in 2003 by Wojciech Zurek and a group of collaborators including Ollivier, Poulin, Paz and Blume-Kohout. The development of the theory is due to the integration of a number of Zurek’s research topics pursued over the course of twenty-five years including: pointer states, einselection and decoherence.

A study in 2010 is claimed to provide preliminary supporting evidence of quantum Darwinism with scars of a quantum dot "becoming a family of mother-daughter states" indicating they could "stabilize into multiple pointer states."

However, the claimed evidence is also subject to the circularity criticism by Kastner (see Implications below). Basically, the de facto phenomenon of decoherence that underlies the claims of Quantum Darwinism may not really arise in a unitary-only dynamics. Thus, even if there is decoherence, this does not show that macroscopic pointer states naturally emerge without some form of collapse.

Social Darwinism

Social Darwinism is the application of the evolutionary concept of natural selection to human society. The term itself emerged in the 1880s, and it gained widespread currency when used after 1944 by opponents of these ways of thinking. The majority of those who have been categorized as social Darwinists did not identify themselves by such a label.Scholars debate the extent to which the various social Darwinist ideologies reflect Charles Darwin's own views on human social and economic issues. His writings have passages that can be interpreted as opposing aggressive individualism, while other passages appear to promote it. Darwin's early evolutionary views and his opposition to slavery ran counter to many of the claims that social Darwinists would eventually make about the mental capabilities of the poor and colonial indigenes. After the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, one strand of Darwins' followers, led by Sir John Lubbock, argued that natural selection ceased to have any noticeable effect on humans once organised societies had been formed. But some scholars argue that Darwin's view gradually changed and came to incorporate views from other theorists such as Herbert Spencer. Spencer published his Lamarckian evolutionary ideas about society before Darwin first published his hypothesis in 1859, and both Spencer and Darwin promoted their own conceptions of moral values. Spencer supported laissez-faire capitalism on the basis of his Lamarckian belief that struggle for survival spurred self-improvement which could be inherited. An important proponent in Germany was Ernst Haeckel, who popularized Darwin's thought (and his personal interpretation of it) and used it as well to contribute to a new creed, the monist movement.

Survival of the fittest

"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory as a way of describing the mechanism of natural selection. The biological concept of fitness is defined as reproductive success. In Darwinian terms the phrase is best understood as "Survival of the form that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations."

Herbert Spencer first used the phrase, after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, in his Principles of Biology (1864), in which he drew parallels between his own economic theories and Darwin's biological ones: "This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection', or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life."Darwin responded positively to Alfred Russel Wallace's suggestion of using Spencer's new phrase "survival of the fittest" as an alternative to "natural selection", and adopted the phrase in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication published in 1868. In On the Origin of Species, he introduced the phrase in the fifth edition published in 1869, intending it to mean "better designed for an immediate, local environment".

The eclipse of Darwinism

Julian Huxley used the phrase “the eclipse of Darwinism” to describe the state of affairs prior to what he called the modern synthesis, when evolution was widely accepted in scientific circles but relatively few biologists believed that natural selection was its primary mechanism. Historians of science such as Peter J. Bowler have used the same phrase as a label for the period within the history of evolutionary thought from the 1880s to around 1920, when alternatives to natural selection were developed and explored—as many biologists considered natural selection to have been a wrong guess on Charles Darwin's part, or at least as of relatively minor importance. An alternative term, the interphase of Darwinism, has been proposed to avoid the largely incorrect implication that the putative eclipse was preceded by a period of vigorous Darwinian research.While there had been multiple explanations of evolution including vitalism, catastrophism, and structuralism through the 19th century, four major alternatives to natural selection were in play at the turn of the 20th century:

Theistic evolution was the belief that God directly guided evolution.

Neo-Lamarckism was the idea that evolution was driven by the inheritance of characteristics acquired during the life of the organism.

Orthogenesis was the belief that organisms were affected by internal forces or laws of development that drove evolution in particular directions

Mutationism was the idea that evolution was largely the product of mutations that created new forms or species in a single step.Theistic evolution largely disappeared from the scientific literature by the end of the 19th century as direct appeals to supernatural causes came to be seen as unscientific. The other alternatives had significant followings well into the 20th century; mainstream biology largely abandoned them only when developments in genetics made them seem increasingly untenable, and when the development of population genetics and the modern synthesis demonstrated the explanatory power of natural selection. Ernst Mayr wrote that as late as 1930 most textbooks still emphasized such non-Darwinian mechanisms.

Universal Darwinism

Universal Darwinism (also known as generalized Darwinism, universal selection theory,

or Darwinian metaphysics) refers to a variety of approaches that extend the theory of Darwinism beyond its original domain of biological evolution on Earth. Universal Darwinism aims to formulate a generalized version of the mechanisms of variation, selection and heredity proposed by Charles Darwin, so that they can apply to explain evolution in a wide variety of other domains, including psychology, economics, culture, medicine, computer science and physics.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.