I will contend here that evolution IS associated with progress. Do you
The original organisms survived in only a certain environment. Genetic
mutation gave the capability for some other organisms to survive in
other environments. This extension of life forms from one domain into
a LARGER domain is progress. It also happened with the formation of
oxygen breathers (animals) the formation of land based life forms for
both animals and plants, and the continued expansion into new niches.
A particular organism with a certain functionality mutates and has an
offspring with the same functionality with additions. For instance,
an organism that ends up manufacturing an additional protective
(anti viral) enzyme has an additional functionality. This expansion of
functionality is progress.
What do you think? Of course many evolutionary trends may have nothing
to do with progress, but some do.