M.D. Harmon (“On evolution, creation and the existence of a higher power,” Feb. 6) discusses evolution in the context of Christian thought, and concludes that there is no conflict. For example, Pope Francis stated: “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.” (“Creation” here means divine intervention.)

On the other hand, Harmon holds that Darwinists believe that “life appeared and evolved … randomly.” In other words, the purely scientific perspective is, according to him, nonsensical.

Unfortunately, on both points Harmon is off track: that evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve, and that life appeared and evolved randomly.

Although today, evolution involves beings that evolve, many biologists assume that self-replicating molecules bridge the gap between inorganic matter and living organisms, an idea referred to as “abiogenesis.” Richard Dawkins discusses the concept in his book “The Selfish Gene.”

Contrary to Pope Francis, evolution does not require the creation of beings that evolve. Evolution does require randomness, referred to as variation in the genetic makeup of organisms over time. This, however, is just half the story.

Variation is coupled with selection, the idea that organisms that are better fit to their environment will tend to leave more offspring, which in turn inherit the genetic makeup of their parents. Randomness per se would result in organisms that were poorly adapted to their environments, since most (but, luckily, not all) random variations are deleterious.

I have to assume that these distortions of evolutionary thought creep into Harmon’s writing because they support his views on religion. Unfortunately for him, a scientific approach neither requires nor leaves room for intervention, divine or otherwise.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island