|The physicochemical depiction of nature “selecting”, so to say, reactions between species, e.g. as theorized by Johann Goethe (1809), see: reaction decipherment, a model cited by Charles Darwin (1859/1861) as being something verbally akin to his conception of the term “natural selection”, albeit not exactly.|
Chambers Cyclopedia traces the origins of the theory of natural selection to the atomic theorists—Lucretius in particular: (Ѻ)
“The theory of natural selection advocated by Darwin is of ancient date—as old as Lucretius—and has been maintained by Lamarck and others; but Darwin conceived that the previous schemes or theories afford no explanation of the mode in which the alleged progressive transmutation of organic bodies from the lowest to the highest grades has taken place.”
Goethe | Natural selection
The so-called theory of natural selection developed by Goethe, referred to by him as "metamorphosis via elective affinity", or something along these lines, is outlined in his general theory of metamorphology.
Darwin | Natural selection
In 1859, English naturalist Charles Darwin, citing Goethe, introduced the term "natural selection" via publication of his now-famous On the Origin of Species: by Means of Natural Selection, in which he set out to outline the general laws by which species descend from one another per citation of the following quote: 
“But with regard to the material world, we can at least go so far as this—we can perceive that events are brought about not by insulated interpositions of divine power, exerted in each particular case, hut by the establishment of general laws.”— William Whewell (1833), Bridgewater Treatise
The following are Darwin’s retrospect reflective statements on his first glimpse of his theory of natural selection:
“It long remained to me an inexplicable problem how the necessary degree of modification could have been effected, and it would have thus remained forever, had I not studied domestic productions, and thus acquired a just idea of the power of selection. As soon as I had fully realized this idea, I saw, on reading Malthus On Population, that natural selection was the inevitable result of the rapid increase of all organic beings; for I was prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence by having long studied the habits of animals.”— Charles Darwin (1868), The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (Ѻ)
Here, in his mention of "power", a thermodynamics-based term, we see the beginnings of the difficulties on theory in Darwin's model of natural selection.
In 1861, in regards to terminology issues, in the third edition of Origin of Species, Darwin added the following concerning criticism raised about the term ‘natural selection’: 
“Several writers have misapprehended or objected to the term ‘natural selection’. Some have even imagined that natural selection induces variability, whereas it implies only the preservation of such variations as occur and are beneficial to the being under its conditions of life. No one objects to agriculturists speaking of the potent effects of man's selection; and in this case the individual differences given by nature, which man for some object selects, must of necessity first occur. Others have objected that the term selection implies conscious choice in the animals which become modified; and it has even been urged that as plants have no volition, natural selection is not applicable to them!
In the literal sense of the word, no doubt, natural selection is a misnomer; but who ever objected to chemists speaking of the elective affinities of the various elements? — and yet an acid cannot strictly be said to elect the base with which it will in preference combines.
It has been said that I speak of natural selection as an active power or Deity; but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets? Every one knows what is meant and is implied by such metaphorical expressions; and they are almost necessary for brevity. So again it is difficult to avoid personifying the word nature; but I mean by ‘nature’, only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws, and by laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us. With a little familiarity such superficial objections will be forgotten.”
English two cultures literature scholar Gillian Beer notes that the issue here is that the term “selection” implies or imbues nature with “conscious agency”, and that Darwin, aware of German polymath Johann Goethe’s previous usage of the term—as the title of his grand 1809 metamorphology theory of form change (chemical to plant to animal to human)—whom he cited in his original 1859 edition as being one of three forerunners of evolution theory (along with Erasmus Darwin and ) brought the science of affinity chemistry here into the discussion to deflect the attack. 
|A typical evolution is a hoax cartoon promoted by creationists, which highlights the salient fact that Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection falls apart, in regards to both the the origin of life question, and in regards to the paradoxical premise that that atoms and molecules struggle to survive.|
Chemical thermodynamics | Natural selection
When Darwin's version of the theory of natural selection, according to which "living" species originate via some type of struggle to live and or to survive, amid limited land and material resources, gets carried down the great chain of being, or backwards in time through the evolution timeline (or molecular evolution table), difficulties on terminology and theory quickly become apparent, as pointed out by thinkers such as Robert Pirsig (1991), on paradox of molecules that struggle, and numerous people on the issue that atoms and molecules are not alive (see: defunct theory of life) hence the principle of continuity is breached, as Darwin (1882) himself pointed out himself in his last and final letter: 
“I believe that I have somewhere said (but I cannot find the passage) that the principle of continuity renders it probable that the principle of life will hereafter be shown to be part or consequence of some general law.”
The "general law" here, in modern retrospect, being the combined law of thermodynamics (first law + second law), according to which a chemical thermodynamics based model of evolution, transmutation of species, molecular metamorphosis, or atomic geometry form change, emerges or arises as the replacement or rather upgrade to Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, according to which, firstly, the premise "living" species become supplanted with the premise of powered animate CHNOPS+ species (or chemical species), per recognition of the fact that life and death are religio-mythology terms not recognized by physics and chemistry (Charles Sherrington, 1938), being that when a gravitationally-bound system of atoms and molecules is cyclically-heated, chemical thermodynamics defines what processes in this mix are natural or unnatural, and furthermore stipulates that the two processes, natural and unnatural, are coupled together (per free energy coupling theory), per system condition confines, according to which reaction "products", i.e. descendants in Darwinian speak, are not necessarily "selected", as this implies someone or something is doing the selecting, but rather yielded per the "nature" of each respective equilibrium reaction process, in the mechanism of molecular evolution, hydrogen atom to human molecule, or molecules-to-man evolution, as some refer to it in colloquial speak.
Religious | Conflicts
Darwin, per opening 1859 William Whewell quote, stating that his new evolution theory book was to establish a general law of origin of species, according to events brought about “NOT by insulated interpositions of divine power”, opened a can of worms, in regards to religious debate, that has not yet simmered down. The following are cartoon parodies of the ongoing situation.
The following are related quotes:
“After Darwin, human morality became a scientific mystery. Natural selection could explain who intelligent, upright, linguistic, not so hairy, bipedal primates could evolve, but where did our morals come from? Darwin himself was absorbed by this question?”— Joshua Greene (2013), Moral Tribes 
1. Darwin, Charles. (1859). On the Origin of Species: by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray.
2. Greene, Joshua. (2013). Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them (pg. 22). Penguin.
3. (a) Darwin, Charles. (1861). The Origin of Species (3rd edition) (pg. 85). Murray.
(b) Peckham, Morse. (1959). The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: A Variorum Text (pg. 163). University of Pennsylvania Press.
4. Beer, Gillian. (1998). “Has Nature a Future?” in: The Third Culture: Literature and Science (§1, pgs. 15-27; quote, pg. 24). Walter de Gruyter.
5. (a) Darwin, Charles. (c.1882). “Letter to George Wallich.” Publication
(b) Avery, John (2003). Information Theory and Evolution (pg. viii). World Scientific.
● Natural selection – Wikipedia.