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Sifl's Avatar Jump to comment 64 by Sifl

In comment #230678, princezephyr wrote:

It is an absence of sense and reason to support evolution on one hand and to state that life cannot come about by chance on the other. That is due to the fact that according to the theory of evolution, which Dawkins supports, the existence of life is based on entirely random coincidences.

It's clear that you don't yet understand what Darwinian evolution is. I'll refer you to a couple of starting points so that you can make some advances in that direction, but first, here's something you should try to keep in mind:

The theory (and fact) of evolution by natural selection has always involved a *component* of randomness; however, the "natural selection" part of it has always been understood to be very non-random. If that seems like a self-contradictory statement, if it seems like randomness would rule the day if randomness is involved at all, then think of a casino.

In a casino, the outcome of any individual roll of dice, spinning of a roulette wheel, shuffling of cards, etc. is pretty much random. But the casino consistently turns a profit, and it does so very non-randomly. That's because each game is set up in such a way that probability favors the house to win on average. Now please note, I'm not trying to say that evolution works like a casino. Instead I'm just pointing out that this is a case where randomness has a role to play (and it's a necessary role!) but it's not a *dominant* role: a casino is a relatively ordered system. And the same can be said of the role of randomness in evolution.

Secondly, please be aware that Richard *never claimed* that evolution was all about chance. (If you think otherwise, then please cite a specific instance that supports your suggestion and please let us know where we can find that quote.)

Now then, on to some linkage:

Here's episode 1 of Richard's most recent attempt to educate the masses on the basic idea (and some of the evidence---about as much as can fit into a short TV program on the subject):

Here's episode 2:

Here's a nice resource from UC Berkeley:

Now having said all that, I think your offer (to have Richard or someone else participate in a public discussion about evolution) might have been reasonable. But the format you suggest would be inappropriate: before you start to *debate* with scientists like Richard about evolution, your side really needs to do an honest job of *learning what Darwinian evolution is*. Now, if you were to suggest that Richard and other biologists conduct public lectures on the topic, that would be more interesting (and more productive).

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 06:49:00 UTC | #218467