Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

The groundless doctrine of randomness

This is a stunning place to find ourselves, given the confident pronouncements we heard issuing from Dennett and Dawkins at the outset of our investigation. Not only do we have great difficulty locating meaningless chance in the context of the actual life of organisms; it now turns out that the one outcome with respect to which randomness of mutation is supposed to obtain — namely, the organism’s fitness — cannot be given any definite or agreed-upon meaning, let alone one that is testable. How then did anyone ever arrive at the conclusion that mutations are random in relation to fitness? There certainly has never been any empirical demonstration of the conclusion, and it is difficult even to conceive the possibility of such a demonstration.

What we are left to surmise, then, is that the doctrine of randomness has simply been projected onto the phenomena of organic life as a matter of pre-existing philosophical commitment.

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