From the blog Less Wrong: An Alien God

A musing on evolution and the popular understanding of the same.

The author rightly dismisses human tendencies toward anthropomorphizing insect and animal function and behavior; along with ideas of a gentle and merciful nature. Instead the process of living and evolving is described matter of factly: “Like water flowing downhill, and equally benevolent.”

When I reached the passage quoted below, I realized I had stumbled on someone whose view of the Universe bears a striking resemblance to my own. There is no “God”. But neither is the Universe random, chaotic chance.  There is something else. Some larger force is at work. And I cannot, without hubris,  claim to have the vast intelligence required to begin to comprehend it. Nor am I vain or foolish enough to suggest that I can declare without hesitation, that there was no Generating Force. Whether that force possesses anything I can comprehend as intelligence, is as pointless as suggesting I  give water flowing downhill the same consideration I give sentient beings more like myself. What would be the point?

“If we ask who was more correct – the theologians who argued for a Creator-God, or the intellectually unfulfilled atheists who argued that mice spontaneously generated – then the theologians must be declared the victors: evolution is not God, but it is closer to God than it is to pure random entropy.  Mutation is random, but selection is non-random.  This doesn’t mean an intelligent Fairy is reaching in and selecting.  It means there’s a non-zero statistical correlation between the gene and how often the organism reproduces.  Over a few million years, that non-zero statistical correlation adds up to something very powerful.  It’s not a god, but it’s more closely akin to a god than it is to snow on a television screen.”


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