Hey there, skeptics,
I have been in touch with a few creationists recently, who have trouble with the ‘random’ associated with evolution. Today I am going to be explaining the ‘random’ scientists talk about when referring to evolution.
There is a misconception among the public that evolution is a purely random process, that the evolution of species is completely random. This is completely untrue. The evolution of species are not random. There is definitely selection in the process of evolution, and this allows us to predict what type of organisms a specific species will evolve into under selected conditions. In the lab, tests have been done on small bacteria, E. Coli and others, where they have been submitted to a specific environment, say, a shortage of sugar, or an abundance of sugar, and have let the species evolve in the petri dish. Scientists can predict what sort of microbe the E. Coli will evolve into, in this way, evolution is not random.
Evolution is random on the individual DNA order, this is the random that Scientists talk about. In the normal life of any living organism, that organism will undergo the constant replication of genes inside of it. DNA is constantly being copied, but every now and then, there will be a mistake in the copying process. This is called genetic mutation. It is this process which allows for speciation, it allows for this lovely branching of evolution, it allows for these new adaptations to occur in biology. This genetic mutation is random, but rather oxymoronic, this process is not completely random.
Let me explain. In the genetic sequence, there are genes which are extremely important, like the ability to produce sex cells or heart cells or liver cells or brain cells, and there are genes which aren’t very important, like the length of one’s nose. So that the genes which create heart cells or brain cells do not get mutated away, (because they are very important) these genes are highly protected for. The organism creates many copies of those genes, so that even if one gets mutated, the information for building a heart is still there.
Look at it this way, in your body, you will find, say (the numbers aren’t correct, just a demonstration), 100 copies of the genes for making heart cells, were as you will only find a few copies of the gene for controlling how long your arms get. This is so that, in the case that one copy of the ‘make heart cells’ gene gets mutated, there are still dozens more there to back it up. Were as something like height or pigmentation, which is not important to function, but needs to be able to adapt to new circumstances, will only have a few copies of the genetic code.
This is how evolution is not completely random, there are barriers of protection, to stop the species from evolving to radically, and to ensure that the important genes don’t mutate. I will leave you all with a quote from James D. Watson, “Today, the theory of evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are based not on reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles”, James Watson, Molecular biologist, geneticist, zoologist and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.