Evolu­tion As Alien God

WikiLast edit: 10 Mar 2012 16:23 UTC by Grognor

In the days before Darwin, people would look at the intricate complexity of life and blame it on a god—something with a mind. Knowing the English sentence “evolution does not have a mind” doesn’t automatically enable people to imagine a mindless, unintelligent designer. People seem to visualize something more like a helpful spirit that works to improve species—whether they recite the phrase “evolution has no mind” or not. They think that rabbits mate in order to “propagate their species”, or wonder if evolution plans to carry on working through nonbiology...

People don’t stop anthropomorphizing just because you tell them to.

To overcome the metaphor of the helpful spirit, one approach is to consider what kind of god evolution would be if it were a god—what sort of god takes a million years to invent a new complex design, what kind of god would put the retina in backwards, what kind of god would let elephants starve to death once they wore out their last set of teeth; and yet still managed to design a human brain, however poorly...

It would be a tremendously powerful, unbelievably stupid, ridiculously slow, and utterly uncaring god; a god monomaniacally focused on the relative fitness of genes within a species; a god whose attention was completely separated and working at cross-purposes in rabbits and wolves...

...in short, less like Jehovah, and more like H. P. Lovecraft’s Azathoth, the blind idiot God burbling chaotically at the center of everything, surrounded by the thin monotonous piping of flutes.

And this is the process responsible for the creation of all biological life on Earth, and you in particular, so you should probably get to know it in some detail.

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