Most materialistic and Darwinian thinking argues that evolution is random, that it is an accidental process, and does not involve an ascent. This represents the basic stance for the current scientific paradigm, although it is being challanged with the alternative that evolution constitutes a process of emergence.
(It is also being challanged by Creationism which is actually fundamentalist religion masquerading as science, but we won't go into that now.)
Random evolution implies a universe that has no laws or direction beyond the basic laws of physics.It is even irrelevant whether or not life appears. Life is an unusual chemical property of matter, but, interesting as it may be, it does not actually go anywhere. Similarily consciousness may appear as an epiphenomenon of the brain, favoured through natural selected because organisms with awareness would be better at finding food, avoiding predators, etc then those without (we are not considering here the hylozooic or animistic or pantheistic worldviews that state that consciousness is universal).
Articulate exponents of a random theory of evolution are the popular science writers like Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins.
There can be no denying that evolution - whether chemical, biological, or memetic - often does indeed appear to function in a random manner. But I myself favour a more intelligent purposive substratum to the universe (as indicated by the Emergent and Teleological paradigms. These do not negate the random evolution, but rather, random evolution becomes a special set of a larger pattern.
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