“Theory of Evolution” versus “Concept of Evolution”

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño C. & Avelina Espinosa — © 2011

Excerpt from “On the Theory of Evolution versus the Concept of Evolution” published in Evolution Education and Outreach

“…It is important to make a distinction between the theory of evolution and the concept of evolution, but without compromising logic…

As scientific theory (Greek theoria), evolution provides naturalistic explanations of empirical observations, it organizes them in a comprehensive system with central and auxiliary hypotheses.

From the epistemological perspective (Greek episteme, epistemology = theoryof knowledge), the theory of evolution encompasses the nature and scope of knowledge about the phenomenon of evolution (=what really happens), including the chronological discoveries by naturalists and scientists during the development of our cumulative understanding of how evolution works.

Scholars call the latter “theory of evolution,” whose epistemological beginning is attributed to the mid and late 1800s, and to Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and Alfred R. Wallace (1823-1913) as main contributors to the conceptualization of evolution at the mechanistic level (=natural selection).

Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace

Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace co-discovered the mechanism of natural selection

But the phenomenon of evolution is ongoing, precedes Darwin and Wallace in billions of years, and it shall continue, with comparable magnitude, in time and space.

The concept of evolution, therefore, is about the occurrence of evolution (i.e., the aggregation of matter, the emergence of organic compounds from simpler molecules, the formation of self-replicating macro-molecules, the encasing of chemical reactions within the boundaries of lipid-layered membranes, the formation of cells and their reproduction and differentiation, and the diversification of uni- and multi-cellular life) and it helps us understand and represent cognitively—via mental symbolism and abstraction— the reality of evolution.

Our understanding of evolution improves with new discoveries, but the reality of evolution continues to exist regardless of our awareness and level of understanding of it…” — © 2011 by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C. & Avelina Espinosa all rights reserved

For original scientific article (On the Theory of Evolution versus the Concept of Evolution), published in Evolution Education & Outreach, click on [PDF]

Related article: Why the Notion that “The Theory of Evolution is Not an Explanation for the Origin of Life” is Wrong.

Recommended Book: Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne click on book for link