John Dewey's philosophy of education was influenced by the philosopher Georg Hegel and the scientist Charles Darwin. Hegel invented the term "dialectic" and applied it to his philosophy that the universe was a unified whole and needed to be known as such. Darwin believed that joining two things produced a better thing, a truer thing. Dewey borrowed the idea of a unified whole from Hegel and the idea of improvement by combination from Darwin. At the heart of Dewey's ideas is the notion of constant improvement, both that constant improvement is possible and how to attain it.
Dewey, like many of the more popular philosophers of the twentieth century, predicated his beliefs and philosophy on the assumption that Darwin was right when he extended microevolution (evolution of a species to different versions of the same species) to include macroevolution (evolution of a species into an altogether different species). If, indeed, humans are no different from animals except for their intelligence, then humans need the same training and control an animal needs to tame its instinct for dominance and destruction. While Dewey might thus be said to have made no actual theological statements in his philosophy since he was primarily concerned with education, he in fact made the most profound theological assumption in basing his philosophy on Darwin's atheism and evolution.
While teaching at the University of Michigan, Dewey found that pedagogical practices operated as they always had de