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Unguided evolution

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The concept of unguided evolution forms part of the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection. It involves the ideas:

  • that evolution follows one simple principle — living long enough to reproduce
  • that neither nature nor the process of evolution and natural selection are partial to what reproduces or how
  • that there is no "ultimate" form of life that is the "target" of all this reproduction, mutation, and selection

Lack of a goal[edit]

The idea of unguided evolution implies that humans are not the "goal" of evolution: just a by-product of billions of years of mutation and natural selection acting on organisms which have managed to survive long enough to breed. Also the scientific theory of evolution rejects "magical" or "miraculous" supernatural intervention in the evolutionary process (i.e., the sort that violates the laws of physics).

This lack of a goal or plan for evolution causes problems for those who have religious reasons for believing that there is some sort of "line" differentiating humans and (other) animals (or for that matter, other forms of life), with the former claimed to have immaterial souls but the latter not.

Alternatives to unguided evolution[edit]


One alternative is creationism, i.e., the total rejection of the scientific theory of evolution. This involves denial of any number of scientifically verified facts and their replacement with the dictum, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."

Intelligent design[edit]

Some creationists who are otherwise known as "cdesign proponentsists" are slightly more selective about the facts they deny. One popular tactic is to avoid mentioning the Bible but still deny that the processes of abiogenesis and evolution could have occurred in a universe adhering strictly to natural law. The proponents of this theory (Michael Behe, for example) usually believe in some form of "guided evolution", in which evolution was made possible by constant miraculous tweaks by an "unseen hand." This often postulates that humans are the ultimate goal, placing us all back in that comforting special space of being unique and intentional. This guided evolution incorporates some aspects of natural selection, and may even accept common descent, but arbitrarily limits the power of the unguided process with such concepts as irreducible complexity.

Theistic evolution, etc.[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Theistic evolution

There are also those people who do not deny the scientific theory of evolution or any of the facts appertaining thereunto, with the exception of the of unguided evolution. These include pantheists and deists who discount the existence of miracles altogether, as well as some supporters of theistic evolution who believe that a supernatural entity had some role in the evolutionary process, but somehow managed this without using miracles. For example, some people believe that God designed the laws of physics themselves[note 1] while not believing that God breached those laws in the evolutionary process.

Alternatives from Discworld[edit]

In Science of Discworld III, an alternative reality develops in which Charles Darwin writes a book entitled Theology of Species, where "survival of the fittest" is translated to "survival of the worthiest" and that evolution has a goal: to be closer to perfection for God when the world eventually ends (for "when the medals are given out" as one of the wizards puts it). Later in this alternate reality, the Rev. Richard Dawkins writes The Origin of Species to put forward an unguided evolutionary premise.

See also[edit]


  1. Some even go further, claiming that God necessarily designed them; this is a fallacy called the argument from fine-tuning.