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Philosophy of Evolution: Evolutionism

Characteristics of Evolutionism


The study of Evolutionism is interesting, current, and complex.  No wonder that the subject of Evolution and its understanding is in public demand.

Evolutionism as Interesting

One of the first facts someone wishes to know about a thing is: where did it come from? It is no wonder, then, that biological evolution, with over one hundred years of publicity behind it, has become a household word.5 This general and lively public interest has been nurtured by continual scientific discoveries that confirm or critique evolution.6

Biological evolution has also become an issue of research for leaders in science, and an object of debate in politics, education, and religion from the time of Darwin’s work. There has been sharp debate, necessary and unnecessary public discussion about the consequences of Darwin’s idea of common descent, especially as his theory touched upon the origin of man, at which point the term "evolution" began to take on rhetorical overtones.7

In reaction to contemporary discoveries in science, there has been a demand for new texts in philosophy. The Neo-Scholastic treatment of the philosophy of nature and its relation to the old Scholastic traditions and principles in view of contemporary natural science have created new discussions and a need for a new presentation.8

Evolutionism as Current

The topic of the evolution of man has been current in debate over the whole last century. The general public been very interested in the topic, and Darwin himself.9 Educators have sought direction about what to teach.10 Accordingly, in the United States the civil courts have been involved.11

Continued scientific discoveries have made evolution a frontier subject for scientists of various types, not only in biology but also in physics, mathematics, geology, anthropology, paleontology and genetics.12 Evolutionism has become a frontier subject for philosophers and theologians.13

Evolutionism as Complex

The treatment of Evolutionism is made more difficult due to its complexity. Even if we are directly concerned with the philosophy of evolution, the object of our study must be the reality of evolution. However, the kind of evolution must be clarified. Total evolution involves the emergence of life from inorganic matter.14 Partial evolution would demand involve less transformation. But does this diminished consideration of evolution involve a single ancestor, monophyletic evolution (like the growth to the Biosphere of Teilhard de Chardin), or several ancestors, polyphyletic evolution?15 Does evolution stay within a given species, between species, or extend up the ladder of taxonomy to classes, to phyla, and to kingdoms of living things?16 And just what is the scientific mechanism that powers evolution, since not all scientists today agree with Darwin’s natural selection and survival of the fittest?17 Further, theories of evolution are changing, so where some were weak, now they may be strong.18 The complexity of Evolutionism is not just an interesting fact, but leads even some Neo-Scholastics to add a chapter on the role of the expert to their more direct arguments.19

Author:  John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min.,  Ph.D.
Copyright 2009 by The Genealogist, 3236 Lincoln, Franklin Park, IL 60131 U.S.A.