What is the true definition of the word "evolution-? I have always considered the definition of "evolution- to be the modern, everyday definition that everyone goes by, which is "the process of unpredictable, random variation through time- of a species. I never had any other perspective on the word until I read Stephen Jay Gould's essay entitled "What Does the Dreaded "E- Word Mean, Anyway? A Reverie for the Opening of the New Hayden Planetarium."" The essay brought to my attention the fact that "evolution- had a different definition before Darwin's theory became mainstream. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "evolution- as "the sequential exposure of the prepackaged potential- (Gould 324). My high school textbooks always taught the common definition of "evolution- as the name of Darwin's theory. There were never any ifs, ands, or buts about the definition. It was always the same dry, singular definition that I'm sure is in all high school biology textbooks. After coming across this bit of information, I was presented with this paradox: What is the true definition of the word "evolution-? .
Before one can understand the true meaning of "evolution-, one must understand Darwin's theory. Darwin's theory is based on four basic principals: 1) All life forms have developed from other species. 2) All living things are related to one another through common ancestors. 3) All life on Earth has a common origin. 4) When one species evolves into another, it involves random genetic mutations, some are more likely to spread and stay in a gene pool than others. .
The fourth principal included the word "random."" Dictionary.com defines the word "random- as "having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective."" That is the complete opposite of what Gould presents the original definition of "evolution- to be.
"Evolution,"" from the Latin evolvere, literally means "an unrolling- "and clearly implies an unfolding in time of a predictable or prepackaged sequence in an inherently progressive, or at least directional, manner (the "fiddlehead- of a fern unrolls and expands to bring forth the adult plant "a true evolution of preformed parts).