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.
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.
- Evaluating Homo naledi Lee Berger’s remarkable cache of hominid bones found deep in a South African cave is generating a lot of news, but major questions remain. Creation Evolution Headlines, September 19, 2015
- Ancient fossils in African cave are tantalizing glimpse of early man Scientists are revealing details about their discovery of a treasure-trove of fossils in a South African cave that they believe is one of the richest collections of an early-human species ever found. USA Today, September 10, 2015.
- 'Missing link' found for ancient sea reptile Scientists said on Wednesday they have unearthed in China the fossil of a small ichthyosaur with large, flexible flippers that let it move around on land like a seal. IOL SciTech, November 6 2014.
- Rapid Evolution in Real Time On islands off the coast of Florida, scientists uncover swift adaptive changes among Carolina anole populations, whose habitats were disturbed by the introduction of another lizard species. The Scientist, October 23, 2014.
- Evolution Is Not Random (At Least, Not Totally) Mutation hotspots and preserved regions of DNA reveal that changes are not the nonrandom processes that were originally assumed. Live Science, October 02, 2014.
- Everything You Wanted to Know About Pterosaurs, Except Their Evolution Despite 200 years of study, evolutionists know almost nothing about how pterosaurs evolved. A fossil graveyard in China adds to the mystery. Creation Evolution Headlines, July 8, 2014.
- Malthus Misled Darwin Who Misled the World It’s rare to see a science article say “Darwin was wrong,” but Live Science reluctantly admitted that a key idea Darwin proposed in The Origin in 1859 is the opposite of the way nature actually works. Creation Evolution Headlines, April 30, 2014.
- Museum Models of Walking Whales Don’t Match Fossils Says Filmmaker Dr. Carl Werner Werner has checked out the claims, interviewing the researchers who published, and has discovered that none of these fossils holds up as transitional to whales. Evolution: The Grand Experiment, April 4, 2014.
- In the Canadian Rockies, a Major Fossil Find Intensifies the Object of Darwin's Doubt Sudden appearance of complex body plans mystified scientists in Darwin's day, and continues to pose a severe challenge. Evolution News & Views, February 13, 2014.
- Bill Nye Scores on Debate Presentation if Not Logic Nye characterized the debate as “the world” against Ken Ham, “the scientific community” and “billions of religious people” against this one man’s narrow literal interpretation of an ancient book. Creation Evolution Headlines, January 5, 2014.
- The Ham-Nye Creation Debate: A Huge Missed Opportunity While Ham did make a few effective points that you don't have to accept evolution to do good science, the compelling scientific evidence for design in nature got skipped over. Evolution News & Views, February 5th, 2014.
- Another Notable Explosion: Has Darwin's "Abominable Mystery," the Origin of Flowering Plants, Been Solved? Much like the Cambrian explosion of invertebrates, the rapid rise and early diversification of flowering plants in the fossil record is now also supported by genomic studies - or is it? Evolution News & Views, January 2, 2014.
- One-Third of Americans Reject Evolution, Poll Shows Notably fewer Republican now believe that humans have evolved over time. Reuters, December 30, 2013.
- Talk to the Animals? Yeah, Right More evidence continues to grow that illustrate the gap between humans and animals. Evolution News & Views, December 17, 2013.
- Baffling 400,000-Year-Old Clue to Human Origins Scientists have found the oldest DNA evidence yet of humans’ biological history adding new mysteries. The NY Times December 4, 2013.
- Evolution is a religion Response to Talk.Origins
- Evolution requires as much faith as creationism Response to Talk.Origins