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Evolutionism

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From Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863)

Evolutionism, (from the Latin evolutio, unrolling) refers to the philosophical worldview or belief in theories that material complexity has developed through purely natural processes. More specifically, it is the advocacy of, or belief in Darwinian mechanisms as being responsible for all life on earth. Belief in the theory of evolution requires faith because aspects such as the origin of life and the production of new information through mutation has not been demonstrated under any conceivable circumstance.

While organisms do change through time, this quality of life is driven by a complex cellular machinery. To assume that the sophisticated systems within the cell could have arisen by pure chance requires a tremendous amount of faith in statistical improbability. The cosmos has many components that testify to the existence of intelligent design. The handiwork of a creator is readily evident in nature, and therefore, it may indeed require less faith to believe in creationism than evolutionism.

The theory of evolution was derived from atheistic philosophy, and is the key evidence used by atheists to explain the existence of humans independent of a deity. In this context evolution plays a vital role in the fulfillment of the belief system of the religion known as secular humanism. An Evolutionist is a proponent of such theory. Theories of change have been developed across several fields of study. Evolutionists embrace evolution through a belief system, not because it has become a proven scientific fact.

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Varieties of evolutionism

  • Idealist evolutionism is the position that all things have the natural tendency within them to develop toward their ideal form. This is the position of ancient Platonism and Aristotelianism, as well as Lamarckism and Orthogenesis. This form of evolution generally carries some degree of teleology, or the idea that things were designed by God to develop in a certain way, and is therefore usually the position of evolutionary creationists, who believe that God deliberately designed and guided the process.
  • Naturalistic evolutionism is the position that things do not have any natural tendency to develop toward a particular "form," but that they simply assume various forms as a result of impersonal natural laws such as random variation and natural selection. The Atomists of ancient times and the Darwinists and Neo-Darwinists of the modern era hold this view. This form of evolution makes reference to no teleology. According to this view, there is no design or purpose in the evolution of things. The driving forces are mere random chance and impersonal natural law.
  • Theistic evolutionism is the belief in both evolutionism and theism. It is held that the book of Genesis is a non-literal story written simply to teach that man is fallen, and not meant to describe the specific circumstances regarding the origins of the universe. Theistic evolutionists fully accept that evolution is the scientific description of how organisms change over time and the result of descent with modification. At the same time, the theistic evolutionist is a theist - who believes in a God who is both personal and concerned with His creation. Theistic evolutionists could thus belong to any of the three main monotheistic faiths, or to any other theistic faith.

Challenges to evolutionism

Creationists generally challenge evolutionism on the following grounds:

  • Evolutionism existed over 2000 years before Darwin, in the writings of Anaximander, Epicurus, Lucretius, and the Atomists, as a philosophy. It is thus not a "new and scientific development," but the resurgence of a very old and very speculative pagan philosophical idea.
  • The primary tenets of evolutionism are metaphysical, rather than scientific. In order for an idea to be scientific, it must be testable. Evolutionism today presumes the absence of any divine creative act in the origin of life, but such an absence cannot be demonstrated or tested. Therefore, while it may conceivably be true, it is not science, but metaphysical speculation.
  • Insofar as they are testable, the predictions of evolutionism are failures. The fossil record does not provide transitional forms necessary to support common ancestry. The geological record supports catastrophism far better than uniformitarianism. The origin of life itself has not been explained by any means other than intelligent, creative act.
  • Evolutionists typically demonstrate all the tell-tale signs of religious ideologists, including ardent evangelism in schools, excluding their opponents from positions in universities, and making ad hominem attacks against creationists rather than supporting their stance with facts and evidence.

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