First, you have to distinguish between evolution and Darwin's theory of the mechanism by which he believed evolution operates, natural selection. Evolution — the idea that species change over vast periods of time, and new species come into being — seems to me virtually unarguable. The fossil record and the evidence from physiology are as conclusive as anything in science can be.
Darwin's theory of natural selection claims that evolution is explained by random mutations that have survival value and therefore tend to be incorporated in succeeding generations. The standard idea of natural selection allows for no goal, meaning, or transcendent influence in the process. It's supposed to be just a mechanism based on chance.
With the necessary hedge that I have no scientific qualifications in this area, I will say that it's at least a reasonable theory that mutations and the resulting survival traits might account for some evolution within species. It's quite a leap from that to evolution of new species — and the introduction of consciousness with all its sequels.
Many scientists who wouldn't dream of denying evolution are skeptical about natural selection as a total explanation. Rupert Sheldrake, who has his own (controversial) theory that he calls morphic resonance, says:
Most biologists take it for granted that living organisms are nothing but complex machines, governed only by the known laws of physics and chemistry. I myself used to share this point of view. But over a period of several years I came to see that such an assumption is difficult to justify. For when so little is actually understood, there is an open possibility that at least some of the phenomena of life depends on laws or factors as yet unrecognized by the physical sciences.In the abstract of his overview of scientific objections to natural selection, Jerry Bergman writes:
Using evolutionary criteria, the hierarchy found is the reverse of that expected by evolution theory; animals lower on the evolutionary scale were found to reproduce in greater numbers, and were as a whole more resistant to variations in the environment. Individual survival after birth tends to be mostly the result of chance; in most cases natural selection eliminates only the sick and the deformed. Environmental variations which cause evolution-temperature, the population of other animals, and the surrounding plant life, all of which have been fairly stable for eons-can result in only very limited degree and types of changes. The natural selection hypothesis also involves circular reasoning; an extant species survived because it was fit, and must be fit because it obviously has survived. The commonality of overdesign, or the existence of complex mechanisms that do not effect survival, but may add much to the quality of life, also creates a severe problem for the natural selection theory.
But a further issue, which Lawrence Auster with his usual eloquence alludes to, is that there is a realm which science, by its nature, simply cannot explain on any materialistic or "accidental" basis. I don't want to put words in his mouth, so let me emphasize that what follows is my interpretation, not his.
Now we are beyond what science or pure reason can comprehend. For some people, that is the end of the discussion and it makes no sense to even talk about it any further. For those who aren't satisfied with stopping there, they need not.
There is another tradition, not in opposition to science but just on a different level, that goes back (as far as we know) in Western thought at least to Pythagoras, through Plato, Aquinas, the medieval mystics, and even into the modern era in out-of-the-mainstream writers like Henri Bergson and Aldous Huxley — not to mention psychical researchers — that suggests that the material world is only the husk of a greater Reality that can't be perceived by the senses. The Indian tradition going back to the Upanishads that underlies Hinduism says much the same, and the concept can be found in one way or another in most of the world's religions.
I believe intuitively that this is true, and that everything in the material world is only a manifestation of a non-physical, and ultimately spiritual, reality. And that applies to evolution. Evolution of forms is only part of the story, and the less important part. Evolution of consciousness is even more significant, because it is through consciousness that life, in the form of mankind, can finally begin to apprehend its purpose.
Apprehend, not comprehend, because the awareness is not acquired through reason or even emotion, but through a higher faculty of consciousness that when developed allows us to reconnect with our source in God.