Five months and 99 posts later, here I am. Keeping with the tradition of marking post milestones, I am going to print something written by someone I admire tremendously. But before I do that, a mighty toast to all my readers who have endured my daily butchering of the English language and to those really brave ones who leave warm, encouraging comments day after day. Your tireless encouragement drives me to write. I don’t think I would have done the hundred without you. And to the strangers who lost their way and found me in the hollows of the W3, do delurk today and allow me to say hello to you.
Coming back to the point. I am going to print a transcript of a speech made by one of my favorite writers - Douglas Adams. The speech was made in 1998 at the Digital Biota 2, held at Magdelene College, Cambridge. To those who are not familiar with his works, this is how I would describe it- geaming wisdom enveloped in brilliant wit. Throw in some frank wonderment in the mix, a bit of sci-fi and you will get an idea what Douglas Adams is all about. I know there are a few Adams fans on my blogroll, so if you have not read this before, it will be a nice treat. To those who have not ventured in DNA-land (Douglas Adams’ initials are DNA), give this a try. Put the babies to bed, make yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate, find a quiet spot and read this. You won’t be disappointed.
Is there an Artificial God – Douglas Adams
So what we have arrived at here - and although the first shock wave of this arrival was in 1859, it's really the arrival of the computer that demonstrates it unarguably to us - is 'Is there really a Universe that is not designed from the top downwards but from the bottom upwards? Can complexity emerge from lower levels of simplicity?' It has always struck me as being bizarre that the idea of God as a creator was considered sufficient explanation for the complexity we see around us, because it simply doesn't explain where he came from. If we imagine a designer, that implies a design and that therefore each thing he designs or causes to be designed is a level simpler than him or her, then you have to ask 'What is the level above the designer?' There is one peculiar model of the Universe that has turtles all the way down, but here we have gods all the way up. It really isn't a very good answer, but a bottom-up solution, on the other hand, which rests on the incredibly powerful tautology of anything that happens, happens, clearly gives you a very simple and powerful answer that needs no other explanation whatsoever.But here's the interesting thing. I said I wanted to ask 'Is there an artificial god?' and this is where I want to address the question of why the idea of a god is so persuasive. I've already explained where I feel this kind of illusion comes from in the first place; it comes from a falseness in our perspective, because we are not taking into account that we are evolved beings, beings who have evolved into a particular landscape, into a particular environment with a particular set of skills and views of the world that have enabled us to survive and thrive rather successfully. But there seems to be an even more powerful idea than that, and this is the idea I want to propose, which is that the spot at the top of the pyramid that we previously said was whence everything flowed, may not actually be vacant just because we say the flow doesn't go that way.
Read entire transcript at: http://www.biota.org/people/douglasadams/
Edited: I have removed the entire transcript (bad netiquette) and have put in an excerpt and a link.
Edited Again: If you are having problems with comments or other issues, email me at todotmom at gmail dot com.