Optimistic theory of history.
Human society is steadily and slowly developing by successive improvements, either by reform and adaptation, or by the NATURAL SELECTION of superior values and institutions.
Also see: THEORY OF EVOLUTION, dialectical materialism, social Darwinism
Roger Scruton, A Dictionary of Political Thought (London, 1982)
19th-century teleological use
Before its use to describe biological evolution, the term “evolution” was originally used to refer to any orderly sequence of events with the outcome somehow contained at the start. The first five editions of Darwin’s in Origin of Species used the word “evolved”, but the word “evolution” was only used in its sixth edition in 1872. By then, Herbert Spencer had developed the concept theory that organisms strive to evolve due to an internal “driving force” (orthogenesis) in 1862. Edward B. Tylor and Lewis H Morgan brought the term “evolution” to anthropology though they tended toward the older pre-Spencerian definition helping to form the concept of unilineal (social) evolution used during the later part of what Trigger calls the Antiquarianism-Imperial Synthesis period (c1770-c1900). The term evolutionism subsequently came to be used for the now discredited theory that evolution contained a deliberate component, rather than the selection of beneficial traits from random variation by differential survival.
Modern use by creationists
The term evolution is widely used, but the term evolutionism is not used in the scientific community to refer to evolutionary biology as it is redundant and anachronistic.
However, the term has been used by creationists in discussing the creation–evolution controversy. For example, the Institute for Creation Research, in order to imply placement of evolution in the category of ‘religions’, including atheism, fascism, humanism and occultism, commonly uses the words evolutionism and evolutionist to describe the consensus of mainstream science and the scientists subscribing to it, thus implying through language that the issue is a matter of religious belief. The BioLogos Foundation, an organization that promotes the idea of theistic evolution, uses the term “evolutionism” to describe “the atheistic worldview that so often accompanies the acceptance of biological evolution in public discourse.” It views this as a subset of scientism
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