Science and the Sacred


Is evolution predictable? Many would argue that it is not. After all, the driving mechanisms of evolution — natural selection, genetic mutation, genetic variation, mass extinctions, etc. — seem to defy a linear, predictable path. Indeed, some cite the apparent randomness of evolution as proof that life as we know it is nothing more than a complete fluke.

However, evolutionist Simon Conway Morris notes that the repeated emergence of certain structures throughout evolutionary history seems to argue against this idea of unpredictability. For example, birds have independently evolved as many as four times throughout our planet’s history. Key structures like the our eye are astonishingly similar to those of the squid, though these structures have evolved independently. If evolution were completely random, would we expect to see organisms beginning from vastly different starting points converging on these same structures?

Morris, believes that evolution is “Darwin’s search engine,” a system through which organisms hone-in on naturally fruitful developments. In an article for Guardian News, he writes that “evolution is evidently following more fundamental rules.” In fact, he argues, convergence seems to point towards an inherent meaning in life, rather than the nihilism of pure, unguided chance. By accepting this view of evolution as a search engine, Morris writes, “things not only start to make much better sense, but they are also much more interesting.”


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