12 Theories of Evolution


Under the notion that there is “spiritual evolution” is an expansion of the typical meaning of the term “evolution”.

What is evolution?  For most people, the answer to that question conjures up concepts from our high school biology class–Darwin’s theory of natural selection as applied to the development over eons of time of the variety of life on earth–in other words, life passes on its traits when it reproduce, there is variation in the new life, and the variations that are the best fit for the current environment win out so as to live longer and be passed along at a higher rate to the next generation.  The short hand for this is “survival of the fittest”.

The media likes to present us with a controversy that there is a debate over whether or not evolution is real. Such debate is presented as being about two extremes–between science on the one hand pointing to all of the evidence for the theory and religion on the other hand raising alternative theories so as to protect the underpinnings of their faith.

However to truly understand evolution, one must realize that it’s not simply about neo-Darwinian thought vs Intelligent Design (Religion).  There are many other theories held by many people who seek to meld material science and immaterial spirituality in their pursuit of the understanding of evolution.  This was well described in a feature article in 2007 by the magazine What is Enlightenment? (now defunct).

In that article, they laid out 12 different theories and individuals who subscribed to that variation of the understanding of evolution.  Here are those 12 groups with a few of their proponents:

  1. The Neo-Darwinists (Dawkins, Gould, Dennett, E.O. Wilson)
  2. The Progressive Darwinists (Carrol, Jablonka, Lamb)
  3. The Collectivists (Bloom, Lynn Margulis, David Sloan Wilson)
  4. The Complexity Theorists (Goodwin, Kauffman, Laszlo)
  5. The Directionalists (Conway Morris, Gardner, Wright)
  6. The Transhumanists (Ettinger, Gibson, Kurzweil)
  7. The Intelligent Designers (Behe, Dembski, Johnson)
  8. The Theistic Evolutionists (Miller, Peacocke, Polkinghorne)
  9. The Esoteric Evolutionists (Blavatsky, Steiner, C. Wilson, Tarnas)
  10. The Process Philosophers (Whitehead, Hartshorne, Griffin)
  11. The Conscious Evolutionists (Teilhard de Chardin, Dowd, Marx Hubbard)
  12. The Integralists (Aurobindo, Gebser, Wilber, Combs)

Even though this outstanding magazine is no longer in publication, the archives are available for reading and downloading online.  Here is the link to that archive:


In addition, the article we are citing comes from issue #35 of the magazine and here is direct link a PDF of it.  The article on evolution starts on page 86: