Therion Ware wishes to note that he's not really very interested in evolution, but finds it necessary to have a section on it in order to counter certain creationist claims. If you spot any errors, feel free to mail Therion.
Let's start with this:
We might also note what evolution is not, which is to say evolution is not evolutionism - the discredited late 19th and early 20th century quasi-political doctrine associating the changes of evolution with a progressive view of social change, positive attitudes towards competition, and war, justification of inequalities of power, and so forth.
Evolution is a blind process. This is to say that the process of genetic transformation cannot be said to have an end "in mind"; it is not inevitable that, given a single celled organism and 3.1 billion years (on a planet 1.4 billion years old) years orbiting a fairly typical star at an average distance of 93,000,000 miles, one will end up with self-aware, intelligent entities who are capable of making and using tools that call themselves "human beings" (or similar).
Evolution does not account for the origin of life, nor does it pretend to do so. It does account for the mechanisms by which life, once existent, adapts to its environment. The origin of life itself remains something of a mystery, but one that is ameanable to scientific investigation. The process that gave rise to life is frequently refered to, incorrectly, as "abiogenesis". The correct terms is biopoiesis (abiogenesis, also known as spontaneous generation implies the spontaneous creation of complex, higher, organisms, even animals, from non-living matter. The notion was discredited by 18th century, and fully laid to rest by Pasteur in the 19th century ).
When considering the relationship of biopoiesys to evolution one should, I feel, note the opinion of Darwin who said of the matter: "It is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter".
Darwin's theory of natural selection is summarised in the Origin of Species as follows:
So although the theory of evolution cannot predict the nature of future adaptations in response to environmental pressure, it can predict what we will discover about those adaptations.