"What about evolution is random and what is not?"
Here's another one for my "you can't make this stuff up" file. I kid you not, this is a news story about a new peer-reviewed paper in PLoS Biology by Brian Paegel and Gerald Joyce of The Scripps Research Institute which explains that (all emphasis from here on is mine)
they have produced a computer-controlled system that can drive the evolution of improved RNA enzymes.
I couldn't write a funnier script if I tried. Sadly, these guys just don't get the joke.
The evolution of molecules via scientific experiment is not new. The first RNA enzymes to be "evolved" in the lab were generated in the 1990s. But what is exciting about this work is that the process has been made automatic. Thus evolution is directed by a machine without requiring human intervention-other then providing the initial ingredients and switching the machine on.But wait it gets better.
Throughout the process, the evolution-machine can propagate the reaction itself, because whenever the enzyme population size reaches a predetermined level, the machine removes a fraction of the population and replaces the starting chemicals needed for the reaction to continue.What? Predetermined? Predetermined by whom or by what? Oh, the evolution machine, which itself is a result of intelligent agency.
The authors sum it all up very nicely.
This beautifully illustrates what about evolution is random and what is not.