Evolution main page

evolution Literally, a process of unrolling or opening out. In biology, originally applied to the development of individual plants and animals, which according to the doctrine of preformation depended on the unrolling or unfolding of pre-existing parts. Only in the 1830s was this word first applied to the historical transmutation of organisms; by the 1860s and 1870s it had come to refer to a general process of transmutation, which was generally assumed to be directional or progressive.  Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection enabled this process to be thought of as blind and purposeless, and this interpretation is central to neo-Darwinism, the dominant orthodoxy in modern biology. A variety of other evolutionary philosophies postulate an inherently creative principle in matter or in life; and some see in the evolutionary process the manifestation of a directional or purposive principle. According to modern cosmology, the entire universe is an evolutionary system.

ref.external linkGlossary Rupert Sheldrake on-line

Evolution explains patterns in the living world by proposing that the diversity and characteristics of species are changing through time via descent with diversification and modification from common ancestors.  Evolution is the process of the changing genetically controlled appearance of organisms through time.

Environment or Natural Selection?

A key difference between Lamarck's and Darwin's ideas involves their explanation of variation.

Lamarck thought that acquired characteristics arise after the environment changes. That is, a change in the environment caused a change in the organism. Lamarck saw evolution in terms of individuals

Darwin stated that variations are present in a population before the environment changes.  Darwin saw evolution in terms of populations.

Competition or Cooperation?

The Darwinian paradigm uses the theory of Natural Selection or "survival of the fittest" as the mechanism for evolution and creating diversity. Evolution is a competitive process by which those organisms better adapted to their environment supplant those less well adapted.

external link The Gaia paradigm uses cooperation as the mechanism to explain the maintenance of the biosphere.  Rather than organisms competing, they cooperate to create and ensure environmental conditions that best benefit all.  This is not done in a teleological (premeditated) manner, but as an automatic process.

Evolutionary Hypotheses | Lamarkism | Darwinism | Teilhard de Chardin | Creationism | Anthroposophy


Atomjack nodeEvolution

Virtual LibraryEvolution (Biosciences) - The World Wide Web Virtual Library - links and resources

Web Site Evolution

Web Site BBC Education: Evolution homepage - material on Darwin and evolution

Study WebStudyWeb®: Science: Evolution - a huge list of sites, both straight sites on evolution and a large selection of sites devoted to the Creation-Evolution controversy

Web Siteon-line articleslinksThe Talk.Origins Archive - Exploring the Creation/Evolution controversy

Web Siteon-line documentsplain pagesThe Evidence Database -- Complete Listing - a lot of subheadings here - includes hominid, evolution, and other material.  no-frills format.

on-line essayIntroduction to Evolutionary Biology  - by Chris Colby - a comprehensive overview - part of the Talk.Origins Archive

web pageanoitated list of linksevolution life earth environment - annotated list of links

web pageanoitated list of linksEvolution- more annotated links

web pagelinks Evolution - some definitions and links - links include general theory of evolution, creationist, and human evolution

Web Siteon-line articlesWas Darwin Wrong? - The critics of evolution - Are there legitimate scientific doubts about the theory of evolution? - book reviews by Gert Korthof .  Excellent site, worth looking at
"This site aims at a careful and fair evaluation of all arguments against evolution and Darwinism. Although I accept evolution, this site is neither an 'evolution propaganda' site nor a 'creationism debunking' site. When appropriate I defend or criticize Darwinism, creationism or any alternative theory. This is done by reviewing books of the critics of evolution and Darwinism, and the neo-Darwinists themselves. This site is independent of any organization."

on-line essayTranscending Darwinism in the Spirit of Goethe's Science: A Philosophical Perspective on the Works of Adolf Portmann - by Hjalmar Hegge - a teleological theory of evolution based on Goethian science

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page uploaded 21 June 1998
last revised 2 December 2001