Here is your essay on evolutionism and its roots !
Evolutionism refers to doctrines of evolution, specifically to a widely held 19th century belief that organisms are intrinsically bound to improve themselves, and that changes are progressive and arise through inheritance of acquired characters, as in Lamarckism. The belief was extended to include cultural evolution and social evolution.
The term is sometimes also used to refer to acceptance of the modern evolutionary synthesis, a scientific theory that describes the causes of biological evolution. In addition, the term is used in a broader sense as a world-view covering a wide variety of topics, including chemical evolution as an alternative term for a biogenesis or for nucleosynthesis of chemical elements, galaxy formation and evolution, stellar evolution, spiritual evolution, technological evolution and universal evolution, which seeks to explain every aspect of the world in which we live.
In the creation-evolution controversy, creationists often call those who accept the validity of the modern evolutionary synthesis “evolutionists” and the theory itself as “evolutionism.” Some creationists and creationist organizations, such as the Institute of Creation Research, use these terms in an effort to make it appear that evolutionary biology is a form of secular religion.
Positivism means a commitment to principles of natural science. It refers to a conviction that like other natural science, sociology can also offer scientific explanations of social phenomena. Scholars with a positivist assumption, very often, tried to contrast religion with science. For them, religion, when subjected to scientific analysis, ends up merely as something irrational.
Positivists tended to assume that when belief in science, based on experiment and sensory perception, is widely held religion will lose its value. They argued that under the impact of rapid industrialization, religion was losing its ground. We give you two examples of scholars with positivist assumptions.
The French Spencer (1798-1857), believed that the theological stage was the beginning, metaphysical stage was the next and the scientific stage was the last in the evolution of human societies, Comte emphasized that religion will end after the further growth of science.
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), an English scholar, argued that religion arose from the practice of worshipping the ghosts of ancestors. This practice was universal, according to him, among primitive people. After this stage came polytheism (worshipping many gods) and finally monotheism (worshipping a single God). Charles Darwin’s famous book Origin of Species was published in 1859 and it brought a revolution in biological sciences.
Even before this, Spencer (1857) claimed in his essay, Progress: Its Law & Cause, that as science advances and a contract-based society develops, religion centered on god head will fade away. Consequently agnosticism (belief that nothing can be known about god) will be the religion of the scientific age. Spencer (1876- 1896) in his three volumes of constructed first systematic theory of religion.
Intellectualism refers to the exercise of reasoning for explaining something. Scholars with an intellectualist assumption argue that religion is a reasoned or rational response of the individual to the natural phenomena. In other words, religion is a system of explanation offered by the primitive, with reference to supernatural beings.
Evolutionism based on the intellectualist assumption claims that religion is a matter of knowledge. The emotional side of religion was ignored by the nineteenth century intellectualists as a non-essential addition.
Later, in the twentieth century, these intellectualists were criticized for their one-sided approach to religion. Notwithstanding this valid criticism, we can say one thing in their favor that they were the first to establish that the primitives were not mindless and godless as the report of missionaries and adventures made them out to be. The intellectualists tried to prove that the primitives were rational though their efforts to explain the natural phenomena were somewhat crude and false.
Secondly, these nineteenth century intellectualists were the first Europeans to conceptualize the entire human society as one unit. This resulted in challenging the assumed high position of the so-called European scientific mind. Further it resulted also in changing the nature and importance of classical studies and thereby in altering the view of European intellectual achievement.
It is good to remember that intellectualists were an odd mixture of positivism and evolutionism. The twentieth century anthropologists and sociologists subjected them to some very harsh criticism. For example, F.B. Jevons’s (1896) influential and famous book, Introduction to the History of Religion, is described by Evans-Pritchard (1965:s) as ‘a collection of absurd reconstructions, supportable hypotheses and conjectures….’. Having discussed the two assumptions on which the evolutionism rests, first we will take up the intellectualist’s theories, dealing with the origin and development of religion and then cloak at those evolutionary theories which trace religion’s origin in psycho-biological processes. At this point it is apt to indicate that there were initially many theories of religion. Further these theories were gradually superseded and criticized and alternatives presented to this type of the arising above the sources and procedures of religion in society.