I have tons of essays in the wings. Most are unfinished, and the rest would get me lynched. Even more than this one might.
This is an essay on evolution. Most of my readers are probably up to snuff on the process, but I am continually surprised by the number of otherwise intelligent people who seem to think evolution is "science religion" or flat-out "bunk".
The process of evolution (and I say "process" rather than "theory" because people aren't very bright sometimes) is simple: any group of things that replicate will tend to be dominated by the things that replicate most.
That's all it is, people. If you have a garden, and you don't weed it, then the garden will be dominated by weeds. Why? Because the weeds replicate more than the rest of the plants. They reproduce faster, in greater numbers, and survive better (so they can reproduce again in a week or two).
Normally, when we talk about the process of evolution, we apply it to species. A species adapts over time because some members of the species reproduce more than others, and the genetic characteristics of those members become more and more common until they are the norm.
However, the theory can be applied to literally any group of reproducers. As examples: art, books, creationists, derringers, evangelists, features (in software or elsewhere), glassblowing, honor, ignorance, jackets, killings, labels, mold, nations, and so on and so forth.
"Mutation" can have a role, but probably less than you think. Usually, simply the variations between the members of the group are enough.
Evolution is as much an unarguable part of reality as gravity and stupidity. Things which reproduce better become more common.
Please notice, this has no value judgements, no mysticism, no guesses. This is not a morality, a religion, or a hypothesis. It is simply the way things are.
Reproducing better doesn't make something "better" - a shrew reproduces very well, but it isn't getting a lot of spaceflight done. It is not really "superior" to "older models" such as cockroaches - it is more complex, but complexity has nothing to do with evolution, except if it helps reproducers reproduce.
There is no encouragement to "just take it on faith". Evolution can and should be carefully studied. You learn a lot that way. And you learn that evolution is not a guess, or a hodgepodge. Unlike virtually everything outside of science, scientific theories (including evolution) get stronger the more they are questioned, rather than weaker.
There is no mention of how life started. We can guess: if a molecule hooked together in such a way that it chemically replicated itself, then it becomes a replicator and therefore subject to the process of evolution. The chances of this happening are low, but the timespan is extremely long: a 0.000001% chance becomes a certainty if tried ten quadrillion times.
But that isn't part of the fundamental theory of evolution. It's what I think is most likely, and many-to-most scientists agree with me. But it isn't part of the fundamental theory of evolution.
What is part of the fundamental theory of evolution is:
Creationists using school boards to peddle their poisons
Diseases becoming immune to medicines
Eugenics (both the theory AND the the way the theory is treated)
Indians (and how they live)
Jerks (type and number)
Killers (methods and opportunities)
So on and so forth forever and ever.
There is literally no evidence against evolution. There is some missing evidence for certain very specific applications of evolution - missing not because the application is wrong, but because we can't see back in time. 1 ? 3 ? 5 6 7 8 9 10: the question marks aren't "proof" that the sequence isn't simply consecutive numbers. They're simply missing evidence.
All the evidence - and more comes in every week on every subject - is 100% agreed with the basic tenets of evolution.
Simply put: disbelieving evolution is about as intelligent as disbelieving gravity.
This essay has been brought to you by the letter "argh". The alphabet, by the way, is more proof of the process of evolution. :)