Toward a Biology Worthy of Life

Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness

Stephen L. Talbott

This essay is part of a larger work in progress entitled: Toward a Biology Worthy of Life. Original publication: November 10, 2011. Date of last revision: July 9, 2012. Copyright 2011, 2012 The Nature Institute. All rights reserved.

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Most biologists, I suspect, will happily own up to the fact that they think of the organism as engaged in strikingly directed and meaningful activity. The lion stalking the gazelle, the bird building a nest, the larva spinning a cocoon, the rose flowering, the cell dividing and differentiating, the organism maintaining its own way of being amid the perturbations of its environment — they all reflect a kind of intentional pursuit we would never attribute to dust, rocks, ocean waves, or clouds.

Biologists, that is, will acknowledge that, at molecular and higher levels, they see almost nothing but an effective employment of a thousa