Tuesday, December 18, 2007


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.


Kodi's Mom said...

that was a quick century, DotMom. One Big Congrats!!! and glad you're on my daily read.
will come back for Douglas Adam - need to make some hot chocolate first ;)

Anitha(Nikki's mom) said...

Think I am the first person to comment on this 100th post of yours! CONGRATULATIONS! 100 in 5 months is no mean feat. Keep it going!
currently reading "A short history of nearly everything"(Bill Bryson) and I can relate so much to the parts where DNA talks about universe and such. Sounds like an excellent book, I also have thought so much on these lines, hows & whys of religion/god.

noon said...

Congratulations dotmom!! I love your posts! Keep 'em coming!
Yes I do need to wait for some quiet time in the middle of the night to read this...will do so for sure.

B o o said...

... it's worth trying to understand and preserve the essential components of, rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water; because even though we may not accept the reasons given for them being here in the first place, it may well be that there are good practical reasons for them, or something like them, to be there.

And thats what my mom has been telling me for the past 2 decades! Moms are never wrong, are they? Thanks for the enlightening post DM. And congrats on 100. Heres to a 1000! :)

B o o said...

BTW, I already had a mug of hot chocolate in my hand when I started your post. Coincidence? Nah!! ;)

RJ said...

Congratulations on 100. I like reading your posts, keep writing, will read the transcript later.

Anonymous said...

Delurking to say Hi :) I don't know when I came here first, but your cartoon strip about your quirky habits kept me returning. Congratulations.

mnamma said...

That was a super-quick century and every post well written! Will come back for the DNA excerpt :)

DotMom said...

kodi's mom: bloggin is like shedding pounds.. the first few are always easy :) come back for DNA!

anitha: I gotta read Bill Bryson. I am on waiting list at the library. You have to read douglas adams.

noon: hahaha. yes, its a long read, but well worth it!

b o o: its amazing to see people grab differnt points of the lecture and relate to it. Mom are always right, aren't we :D and share that cuppa with me. It was my idea ;)

rj: thanks!

anon (RM): Hello, RM. Thanks for delurking. can't believe you enjoy my daily ramblings!

mnamma: you think? thanks! print it out and read DNA..

Preethi said...

Congrats on your 100th post dotmom.. and I love reading all your post!!! and in 5 months... wow you are fast!!! I will be back for Douglas Adams.. I loved his Hitchikers Guide ... but need to put Nantu to bed first!!

Orchid said...

kudos on the 100! and looking forward to 200 and I think I missed your previous post.
The DNA stuff-mighty intense yet very relatable (is that even a word??), enjoyed the read-thanks for sharing!

Timepass said...

Congrats on ur 100th post..

ddmom said...

congrats on the quick century. I love reading your blog, especially the one's starring chip. Keep 'em coming..
Will be back for the DNA read. As you said in your comment, will print it out and read while relaxing :)

Moppet's Mom said...

Happy 100, my friend! (And stop fishing for compliments, ok?) You know you write fabulously (along with all the other things you do - it's not fair!)

Will come back for DNA - have only read Hitchhikers and Dirk Gently - haven't read any of his non-fiction pieces. And having read almost everything by Bryson, I'd strongly recommend him to you as well. 'History' is good, but all his travel pieces are great fun too - funny and insightful. Do check them out.

Altoid said...

Congrats Dotmom,

Very impressive 100 indeed.

Bill Bryson, Wait in library queue! Nahhhh- you can come pick up most of his works from my place...I couldnt not have my own copies of the wonderful works.

About DNA, well for attention deficients like me, too long a read :( AND I don't like chocolate. So maybe when my "issues" are all fixed, I will take up your offer.

vasudha said...

congrats!! dotmom..iam a regular reader of your blog..i first read your blog when the engagement tag was going around..

here's to the many more posts to come

Yadu said...

Hi dotmom,
Delurking to say hi at everyone's 100th post seems to be the thing that I am doing these days. I don't blog, but love to read them and I enjoyed the 3 part series about chip.Congratulations!!

choxbox said...

way to go dotmom. a century already!

will come back to read the excerpt, later in the evening, chocolat chaud and all.

Tharini said...

Do you know I had to click 17 times to get to the comments icon to write you this?? :)

I haven't read the entire post yet, just the part where I know yo reached your 100. Wanted to say a huge congratulations to you for making it not just to the 100, but to a most qualitative 100!! Every post of your has been a pleasure to read with your unique style shining through and giving a hint of the persona behind it. Congratulations.

I will be back to read the rest and write more.

radha said...

Hey DotMom,

I am delurking here for the first time. Congrats on the century! Blog posts must be like making millions - only the first is difficult,the rest all add up fast don't they :)? Keep them coming.

//as we move further and further into the field of digital or artificial life we will find ... this is a precise parallel to the entities we create around ourselves to inform and shape our lives and enable us to work and live together.//Interesting !

My day started off well with a hot cup of tea ,the DNA excerpt and some serious thinking for the rest of the day - thank you! Had only read Hitchhikers - have to catch up on a lot of other amazing stuff. And Bill Bryson's travel pieces -they are such fun stuff ! You will love them .

I love Lucy said...

hey DM,congratulations on the century!I for one love your posts and even if I do not comment on every one of them,I DO read all of them :)
Heres to many more centuries to come...

Sue said...

I've read it before. Love the way he thinks.

Congrats, Dotty!

rayshma said...

congrats! i sat down with a mug of hot choc, came here... and realized that i was only following ur suggestion! :D
and heyy, i LOVE douglas adams! :))

DotMom said...

preethi: thanks.. lived H2G2 too!

orchid: I thought you would enjjoy it... you came to mind when I posted the transcript!

timepass: thanks, mucho!

ddmom: Chip's antics, well yeah he certaninly gives me a lot of material.

moppet's mom: Bryson is the name of the day. I have to trek over at Altoid's house and get her stash! and thanks for calling me a friend :) YAY!

altoid: will contact you offline and will take up the offer :) you don't like chocolate? Are you from mars?

vasudha: Hello, you. Thanks for delurking and the kind wishes!

yadu: Hello, Yadu. Thanks a bunch for delurking..maybe you should start a blog now :)

choxbox:lemme know how you like it.. we are two poor geeky misfits in this W3.

tharini: sorry about that.. blogger certainly is giving lotsa trouble! but thanks for you perseverance. You are very kind with your words..don't know what to say:)

radha: hello, you. blogposts are like shedding weight.. the first few pounds are easy :) H2G2 is a baslt.. Watch the cheesey BBC series on the book. It's hilarious.

I love lucy: you do? thanks girl!

sue: I thought you would have read this, you literary, you.

rayshma: yay. pinkie friends for liking adams, now?

dipali said...

Congrats on your century, Dotmom!
I've long loved this excerpt from DNA. And my favourite DNA's are the Dirk Gently ones.
Good going, girl!

Swati said...

Congratulations !!! Quick indeed!

Usha said...

Great going. Love your posts. Here's to the next 100.