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Darwin and the Term ‘Evolution’

Darwin did not use the noun ‘evolution to describe his theory in the Origin; in fact he only used the word ‘evolved’ once in his book. The pre-Darwinian connotations of the word concerned a predictable unfolding of possibilities, as seen for example in the processes of embryonic development.

Darwin would not have chosen the word because his theory is based upon variants which occur in an undirected way, and are then selected for or against by an environment which may also alter irregularly, not on a ladder of progress. However, by the time of the publication of The Expression of the Emotions in 1872, he had started to use the term.

See also the rhetoric of Darwinism.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate and Dr. Michael Robert Negus
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

Evolutionary Biology and Theology

Index - God, Humanity and the Cosmos, 1999 T&T Clark

Darwin and the Term ‘Evolution’

Related Book Topics:

Important Evolutionists Before Darwin
Influences on Darwin
Darwin’s Evolutionary Scheme
Darwin’s Challenge to Theological Positions
Some Recent Debates About Evolution
From Darwinism to Neo-Darwinism
Punctuated Equilibrium and Radical Contingency
Self-Organisation and the Development of Complexity
The Rhetoric of Darwinism
Evolution as a Science of the Unrepeatable Past
The Evolution of Hominids
The Neanderthals
The Paradox of the Development of Modern Humans
Religious Responses to the Science of Human Evolution
Humans as Made in the Image of God
The Doctrine of the Fall
The Science of Sociobiology Critiques the Truth-Claims of Religion
Evolution and Theology


Dr. Michael Robert Negus and Dr. Christopher Southgate in God, Humanity and the Cosmos. Published by T&T Clark.

See also:

Charles Darwin
DNA Double-Helix
Purpose and Design
Does God Act?
Where did we Come From?
Books on Biology, Genetics and Theology