Critically compare opposition to evolutionism in the nineteenth century with opposition to evolutionism today. What has changed, and why has it changed? What has remained constant, and why is this?
Your essay should consider not only the ideas of the two periods, but also relevant social, political and cultural factors in the two periods. Support your judgments with appropriate evidence relating to each period.
Evolutionary theories have evoked an uneven sequence of responses over the past centuries. The concept of evolutionism has been common at some periods of time and uncommon at other periods. In this paper, I will address the existing oppositions of evolutionism and compare them with the past oppositions. The nature of these oppositions will be investigated and concluded with an analysis of their meaning and the effects they will have on the concept of evolutionism in future.
According to Bakar (2003), opposition to Darwin’s theory of evolution has remained since his publication of ‘The Origin of Species’. There are different natures of oppositions that have come up. However, the evolutionists claim that such oppositions are raised by the non-scientific sphere of people whose religious views and values are threatened by such a theory.
Evolutionism is a concept at the heart of the history of social sciences. A common assumption in most of evolutionary theories is that history unfolds in patterns of distinct events. Sanderson (1997) observes that in the later years of the nineteenth century, Franz Boaz (1932, 1940) and his supporters were the major force behind the opposition of evolutionism. These challenged how the aspect of social change in the society had been addressed by some evolutionary theorists. Franz Boaz was a historicist who strongly believed that both culture and history were devoid of patterns.
Evolutionism leads us to believe that political conquests and diffusion play no role in the evolutionary events. In real sense however, these are the external forces that are present in the society. Leslie White in 1940 strongly criticized the evolutionary models of Taylor and Morgan for failure to consider diffusion as an important player in the process of evolution. Giddens (1981, 1984) claims that evolutionism does not employ the aspect of human agency. Thus this automatically disqualifies it as a social theory. It is also deterministic and sees human beings as objects that are blind to social forces (Sanderson 1997).
Sociologists today consider evolutionism as attaching much directionality to the events in history. This is an argument that is shared with Robert Nisbet (1969) who notes that historical pattern is not a characteristic of history but is an aspect that is determined by an observer. Therefore, the absence of patterns in history is what makes history, and is not dependent on the observer. The Weberian sociologists also consider history to be particular and lacking patterns (Sanderson 1997).
Apart from metaphysicians and part of the scientific community who have opposed parts of the concept of evolutionism, greater opposition has been received from the religious and philosophical spheres. Over the year, opposition from the religious point of view has been universally uniform. In all holy books and traditional sources, there is no proof that higher beings evolved from the lower forms. Mendel also wrote a paper to contribute to the controversies that had been raised by Darwin’s ‘The origin of species’ in 1859. In his paper, his opposition to Darwinism and inclination to the orthodox doctrine on special creation was clearly brought out (Bishop 1996).
Many Christians today consider both their faith and theories of evolution. They do not deny the factual parts of these theories, but they still believe in the biggest role played by God in the process. Philosophers have argued that the differences between creations that live, and those that live and feel; and the ones that live, feel, and reason are vast and no forces in the material world can produce such differences (Bakar 2003)
In conclusion, all these oppositions play a role in the future of evolutionism. For a fact, if all parties interested in the opposition of evolutionism were to come out openly, then it is no doubt that evolutionism could be wiped out.
Bakar (2003). The nature and extent of criticism of evolutionary theory. Retrieved from the
world wisdom online library: www.worldwisdom.com/public/library/default.aspx
Bishop E. (1996). Mendel’s Opposition to Evolution and to Darwin. Journal of heredity 1996;
Sanderson, K. (1997). Evolutionism and its Critics. Journal of world-systems research 3:94-114
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