Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education

Evolution: Education and Outreach

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 90-94

First online:

Don’t Call it “Darwinism”

  • Eugenie C. ScottAffiliated withNational Center for Science Education
  • , Glenn BranchAffiliated withNational Center for Science Education Email author 


Evolutionary biology owes much to Charles Darwin, whose discussions of common descent and natural selection provide the foundations of the discipline. But evolutionary biology has expanded well beyond its foundations to encompass many theories and concepts unknown in the 19th century. The term “Darwinism” is, therefore, ambiguous and misleading. Compounding the problem of “Darwinism” is the hijacking of the term by creationists to portray evolution as a dangerous ideology—an “ism”—that has no place in the science classroom. When scientists and teachers use “Darwinism” as synonymous with evolutionary biology, it reinforces such a misleading portrayal and hinders efforts to present the scientific standing of evolution accurately. Accordingly, the term “Darwinism” should be abandoned as a synonym for evolutionary biology.


Darwinism Darwinist Creationism Intelligent design Charles Darwin Evolutionary biology