RationalWiki's 2018 Fundraiser

There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff — we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.

If everyone seeing this today donates $5, we will meet our goal for 2018.

Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with PayPal Logo.png!

Donations so far: $2397Goal: $5000

Edward Drinker Cope

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
We're all homos here
Icon evolution.svg
Relevant Hominidae
A Gradual Science
Plain Monkey Business

Edward Drinker Cope (1840–1897) was an American paleontologist and comparative anatomist, as well as a noted herpetologist and ichthyologist. He was a founder of the neo-Lamarckism school of thought and was known for his theistic views on evolution. And he had the best middle name ever.


Cope was a neo-Lamarckian and an opponent of Darwinism. He was also known for endorsing a form of orthogenesis and other non-Darwinian evolutionary processes throughout his works. He coined a number of evolutionary processes such as Bathmism (growth-force), kinetogenesis (direct effect of use and disuse and environmental influences), archaesthetism (influence of primitive consciousness) and later catagenesis, bathmogenesis, ergogenesis, emphytogenesis, statogenesis and mnemogenesis.[1] These processes were based around the idea of Lamarckism and orthogenesis, and some other scientists dismissed them as being mystical.[2] Cope believed that variations were acquired and inherited by an underlying energy force. It has been noted that in the 1870s and 1880s when Cope was writing his evolutionary works that the idea of a mind or spiritual force guiding evolution had a broad appeal.[3]

The Bathmogenesis of Cope has been defined as:

The idealistic theory of evolution of the American paleontologist E. D. Cope, explaining the genesis of new signs in living creatures in the process of evolution as caused by the influence of a special energy (bathmism, or “strength of growth”). The action of this internal factor is directed, according to Cope, by external influences, the use of organs, and forces resulting from needs, as well as unconscious or conscious selection.[4]

Cope's Theology of Evolution (1887) argued that consciousness comes from the mind of the universe and governs evolution by directing animals to new goals.[5] According to (Sideris, 2003) "[Cope] argued that organisms respond to changes in their environments by an exercise of choice. Consciousness itself, he maintained, was the principal force in evolution. Cope credited God with having built into evolution a life force that propelled organisms toward even higher levels of consciousness."[6]


Thankfully, the creationists have not discovered the work of Cope; if they had, they'd probably quote mine and misrepresent his works. Whilst it is true that Cope had some far-out ideas on the mechanisms of evolution he was not challenging the fact of evolution and his work in paleontology is considered very good evidence for evolution. He discovered, described, and named more than 1,000 vertebrate species including hundreds of fishes and dozens of dinosaurs, an overview of his paleontology work and other contributions to evolution can be found here. He also wrote more than a thousand scientific papers, a feat that remains unmatched to this day. His work in comparative anatomy, herpetology and ichthyology is also considered good evidence for evolution.

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Primary Factors of Organic Evolution (1896)
  • The Origin of the Fittest (1887)
  • Theology of Evolution (1887)
  • Consciousness in Evolution (1875)

See also[edit]


  • Jane Pierce Davidson The Bone Sharp: The Life of Edward Drinker Cope 1997


  1. Ronald L. Numbers Darwinism Comes to America 1998, pp. 34-35
  2. Ruth E. Moore Man, time, and fossils: the story of evolution 1953, p. 127
  3. God—or Gorilla: Images of Evolution in the Jazz Age
  4. Bathmogenesis Definition
  5. Randy Moore, Mark Decker, Sehoya Cotner Chronology of the Evolution-Creationism Controversy 2010, p. 140
  6. Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection