Table

Principles of Evolution.

Descent with modification:

1. Organisms vary

2. Some of that variation is heritable

3. There is population pressure on resources so that not all organisms survive to reproduce equally well (when differential reproduction is related to heritable variation we call that natural selection)

Duplication with variation:

4. Sequestration

5. Duplication

6. Modularity

7. Chance

8. Contingency

Basic chemical logic:

9. Complementary base-pairing in RNA/DNA 10. Protein-protein and receptor-ligand binding properties such that life really would be the unfolding—the original, embryological development sense, of the term "evolution"—of the interactions latent in the molecular structure. In addition, life would be perfectly predictable from the day of the Big Bang onward.

If these kinds of molecular inevitabilities or chaos theory premises are literally true, it will have profound implications for cosmology, religion, and philosophical views of the nature of existence. However, based on what we know today, it seems just as true that the degree of any such predictability is so small, relative to the phenomena that we ourselves can observe, that evolution behaves for all practical purposes as if it were contingent and in that sense unpredictable.

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