On Evolutionism

One should not confuse evolution and evolutionism because they are different. Whereas evolution is about nature (previously explained), evolutionism attempts to use evolution to express progress and value of society. Some even link biological and cultural progress back to God because humans are worth more to God as a result of this progress.

We can trace the concept of evolutionism back to Aristotle’s hierarchical Great Chain of Being. Numerous societal shifts during the 1800s as agricultural to industrial and rural to urban marked the growth in evolutionism. With these shifts in mind and the thought that the church was not addressing society’s latest needs, evolutionism became an ideology challenging the religious trends at the time of literalism, fire, and brimstone.

Hebert Spencer (1820-1903), a Darwin contemporary, used psychology, sociology, philosophy, and biology to embrace human struggles and evolutionism to justify social policies. Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” (yes, Hebert Spencer, not Charles Darwin) because he saw evolution as a mechanism to explain social development. Because he influenced so many sociologists, some say that Hebert Spencer’s work has been more influential than Charles Darwin.

Thomas Huxley (1825-1895), another Darwin contemporary and Darwin confidant and supporter, also used Darwin’s theory to promote a social agenda in his challenge to the Church of England – deeming it as an obstructionist to human and culture progress.

It is the work of Spencer, Huxley, Francis Galton, Ernest Haeckel, and others morphed into “social Darwinism”, which some use to embrace selective breeding for humans. Interestingly, Galton (1822-1911), Charles Darwin’s cousin known as the founding father of eugenics – a socio-biological movement advocating methods for improving the human population through genetics.

Haeckel (1834-1919), a German biologist and philosopher, embraced Spencer and evolution, but not Darwin’s natural selection. Adolph Hitler mistakenly used Hackael’s “politics is applied biology” as one reason for justifying Arian dominance. It is this on this point that anti-evolutionists today inaccurately point to Charles Darwin’s evolution leading to a life of homosexuality, promiscuity, abortion, dysfunctional families, and other societal issues.

Today, evolutionism referred to as Social Darwinism, lies in the social sciences than in the natural sciences. One should not confuse this field with sociobiology, which studies social behaviors by animals. (Many recognize E.O Wilson for his work in this area.)

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is not about culture and values or a vehicle for exposing desired values – nor does it attempt to answer questions as why are we here, what is the role of humans, what is the role of God, or what would Jesus do. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is not tied to Nazism, Fascism, communism, and socialism. Darwinism is about genetics, adaptation, diversity, and the natural world.

Science is supposed to yield objective knowledge that is free from cultural values. Social Darwinism/evolutionism was not good science in the time of Hebert Spencer nor is it good science today because good science involves observation, measurement, experimentation, predictions, and conclusions that are free from societal norms and philosophy.