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The process of gradual transformation of living organisms over time

Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes that are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Different characteristics tend to exist within any given population as a result of mutations, genetic recombination and other sources of genetic variation. Evolution occurs when evolutionary processes such as natural selection (including sexual selection) and genetic drift act on these variations, resulting in certain characteristics becoming more common or rare within a population. It is this process of evolution that has given rise to biodiversity at every level of biological organization, including the levels of species, individual organisms and molecules.


Freedom Evolves, by Ronald Bailey, 19 Feb 2003
Review of philosophy professor Daniel C. Dennett's book Freedom Evolves
Amoebas and birds and most other animals are 'situation-action machines.' They are endowed by natural selection with a more-or-less fixed repertoire of behaviors that tell an organism, 'In situation A, do action B.' Amoebas have fewer choices, while birds have more. ... Birds, like most earthly organisms, live as their ancestors did, and their range of choices is determined by the stately processes of biological evolution. People, on the other hand, are no longer tethered to evolutionary change. Language and culture, especially modern science and technology, enable us to dramatically increase the range of our choices.
Herbert Spencer, by Wendy McElroy, 29 Aug 2012
Review of the book Herbert Spencer (2013) by Alberto Mingardi, volume 18 of the "Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers" series
For example, Spencer based much of his ethics on a theory of moral evolution. In the preface to the last part of Ethics (1893), Spencer himself expressed disillusionment in commenting that "the Doctrine of Evolution has not furnished guidance to the extent" he had expected. ... With the rise of John Maynard Keynes—the modern prophet of government intervention—Spencer's laissez faire fell into disrepute. Because he wrote of the "survival of the fittest," Spencer was accused of being a Social Darwinist who would nod in approval as the weak died miserably. (In fact Spencer wrote at length about the good done by voluntary charity.)
Related Topic: Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer as an Anthropologist [PDF], by Robert L. Carneiro, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1981
Traces Spencer's contributions to the fields now known as anthropology and sociology and how his concept of cultural evolution was developed
The following year, 1852, Spencer wrote an article entitled "The Development Hypothesis" in which he openly rejected the doctrine of special creation, and argued instead that the present forms of plants and animals must have arisen through a gradual, natural process of transmutation ...
Which, then, is the most rational hypothesis?—that of special creation which has neither a fact to support it nor is even definitely conceivable: or that of modification, which is not only definitely conceivable, but is countenanced by the habitudes of every existing organism?
Darwin and Wallace were both very impressed by this article.
H.L. Mencken: The Soul Behind the Sass, by Thomas Hazlett, Reason, Dec 1987
Review of the second edition of Disturber of the Peace: The Life of H.L. Mencken by William Manchester
While Manchester has some difficulty tracing the source of the animosity, the answer seems clear: Mencken simply stood up to the frauds. Indeed, he hunted them down. When schoolteacher John Scopes was put up on charges of teaching evolutionism in the Monkey Trial in 1925, Henry leaped on the preposterous indictment with glee. He personally hooked Clarence Darrow to defend 'the infidel Scopes' and dashed to Dayton, Tennessee, to brew his famous syndicated accounts of the trial and local tent-revival shows.


An Interview with Robert Nozick, by Robert Nozick, Julian Sanchez, 26 Jul 2001
Topics discussed include: ethics, science and philosophy, Karl Popper and the scientific method, Ayn Rand and epistemology, consciousness, relativism and the academic left and Nozick himself
JS: Most of Invariances is asking, in one way or another, "What is truth?" ...
RN: Evolution plays a large role in my discussion of necessary truths and metaphysical truths, and I ask "why would evolution have endowed us with such powerful cognitive capacities to know about all possibilities?" Maybe evolution just gives us 'good enough' theories like Euclidean geometry that are approximately true and able to get us around the world, but [then] we discover that they're not strictly speaking accurate ... I ...think that the capacities we have, including of apprehending a truth, have been strongly shaped, not to mention created, by evolution.


The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
    by Richard Dawkins, 27 Oct 2004
The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
    by Richard Dawkins, 1987
  • ISBN 0393315703: Paperback, W. W. Norton & Company, reissue edition, 1996
The Selfish Gene
    by Richard Dawkins, 1976

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Evolution" as of 9 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.