"How Radiation Changes the Genetic Constitution" / H.J. Muller. In
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 11, number 9, Nov 1955, pp 329-338 and 352 (extract from page 331).
It is entirely in line with the accidental nature of mutations that extensive tests have agreed in showing the vast majority of them detrimental to the organism in its job of surviving and reproducing, just as changes accidentally introduced into any artificial mechanism are predominantly harmful to its useful operation. According to the conception of evolution based on the studies of modern genetics, the whole organism has its basis in its genes. Of these there are thousands of different kinds, interacting with great nicety in the production and maintenance of the complicated organization of the given type of organism. Accordingly, by the mutation of one of these genes or another, in one way or another, any component structure or function, and in many cases combinations of these components, may become diversely altered. Yet in all except very rare cases the change will be disadvantageous, involving an impairment of function.
It is nevertheless to be inferred that all the superbly interadapted genes of any present-day organism arose through just this process of accidental natural mutation. This could take place only because of the Darwinian principle of natural selection, applying to the genes. That is, on the rare occasions when an accidental mutation did happen to effect an advantageous change, the resultant individual, just because it was aided by that mutation, tended to multiply more than the others.