John Gribbin reviews The Plausibility of Life by Marc Kirschner & John Gerhart, in The Independent:
The Plausibility of Life is a serious book, in the same sense that, say, histories by Anthony Beevor are serious, but no harder to read. It deals with topics such as chaos and complexity that are also relevant to an understanding of human history, as well as of human origins.
The bottom line of the argument is that life is organised in such a way that potentially useful variations are thrown up in every generation, and that this facility for variation has itself evolved. That helps, perhaps, to explain why life on Earth existed only in single-celled forms for billions of years before exploding into the variety around us today.
This idea, which the authors dub “facilitated evolution”, carries a bonus. Instead of making it hard to understand how complex structures like the eye or wing could have evolved, facilitated evolution works precisely because the organisms on which evolution operates have great potential for variation. As the authors point out, this pulls the rug from under the argument for “intelligent design”.