Algeny: A New Word—A New World

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Algeny: A New Word—A New World; A Provocative Critique of Darwinism, the Age of Genetic Engineering, and Our Relationship to Nature (ISBN 9780670108855) is a controversial book written by American economist Jeremy RifkinWikipedia and published by Penguin Books in 1983.


Algeny claims to be a controversial reevaluation of Darwinism, a critique of the coming era of bioengineering, and a critical examination of the way we view our relationship with nature.[1] Darwinian evolution, Rifkin holds, is a product of 19th century industrial capitalism. Rifkin claims that natural selection is under attack; however, his book confuses "Darwinism" with evolution. According to a review of the book:

[Rifkin] trots out the common errors of anti-evolutionists: natural selection as tautology, lack of intermediate forms, arguments by probability, even the non-Darwinian notion that evolution means progress toward perfection and self-sufficiency. He ends up tarring Darwin with a Social Darwinist brush, saying that Darwin unconsciously voiced the upper-class Englishman's justifications of Malthusian measures. You will get the idea that Darwin has been buried by everyone from creationist Duane Gish to exponent Stephen Jay Gould. These arguments lead Rifkin to his concept of the new cosmology and its issue: an information-processing evolution in which ""fields""[note 1] and biological clocks weld together to create the driving force for a universal mind guiding future waves of evolution.[2]

Rifkin claims he is not a creationist, yet his book is filled with anti-evolution arguments, and because of this the book is usually quote-mined by creationists.[3]


Stephen Jay Gould in a 1985 issue of Discovery magazine wrote:[4]

I regard Algeny as a cleverly constructed tract of anti-intellectual propaganda masquerading as scholarship. Among books promoted as serious intellectual statements by important thinkers, I don't think I have ever read a shoddier work. Damned shame, too, because the deep issue is troubling and I do not disagree with Rifkin's basic pleas for respecting the integrity of evolutionary lineages. But devious means compromise good ends, and we shall have to save Rifkin's humane conclusion from his own lamentable tactics.

It has been cited by intelligent design proponents as a book which supposedly dismantles Darwinism.[5]

In a review of the book, Stephen C. Maxson wrote "Rifkin does not believe in evolution of species. In his view, species are separate entities with natural and impenetrable reproductive boundaries, thus there is no genetic or biological relationship between one species and another."[6] Rifkin's criticisms of evolution are no different from those of the religious creationists (e.g. baraminology) and have been dismissed by the scientific community.


  1. Doubled quotes are in the original.


  1. Algeny: Viking Press, 1983 The Foundation on Economic Trends (archived from September 2006). This book entry was later purged from Rifkin's own website (FOET).
  2. Algeny by Jeremy with Nicanor Perlas Rifkin. Release Date: May 1, 1983 Kirkus Reviews.
  3. Creationists' misuse of quotations by Edward T. Babinski (March 11, 2004) Scrivenings via Blogspot.
  4. Entropy, Algeny & The End of Work, review by Howard Doughty (updated September 24, 2001) The Innovation Jounral (archived from April 22, 2004).
  5. The top three books that helped change me from a mindless, irrational Darwinist into an ID proponent by Gil Dodgen (February 4, 2011) Uncommon Descent.
  6. "Genes, Species, and Evolution: A Critique of Rifkinism" by Stephen C. Maxson (1987) Politics and the Life Sciences 5(2):289-290. doi:10.1017/S0730938400002471.