Awwh, – Poor Little Fly!

With kudos to our President, and a laugh at PETA, I’m reminded of a poem I found years ago. (author unknown)

Don’t be discouraged, poor little fly,
You’ll be a chipmunk by and by.
Ages later, I can see, you’ll be a full grown chimpanzee.
Next, I see you with prophet’s pen,
Taking your place in the ranks of men.
And then, in the great sweet by and by
We’ll be angels – you and I.
So why should I swat you, poor little fly,
Prospective chum of my home on high?
That’s what some folks say.
Not I.
SWAT!

(No, I don’t believe anyone is suggesting this as a path of evolution, but the actual suggestions are not much better.)

“Spore” The Video Game

At an Orange County Multimedia Association (OCMMA) meeting a few years ago, several members gave a report on the E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) they had just attended in LA. One of the demos they saw was of “Spore,” an evolution simulation video game that was under development. In this game, you could create your own life forms and have them evolve over time from single-celled organisms to intergalactic civilizations.

A comment was made that such a game wouldn’t be very popular in a Christian school. This of course drew laughter. I few minutes later, I realized that a Christian school would be a perfect place for it. What a wonderful illustration of Intelligent Design (ID). But the moment had passed; the subject had changed; and I had missed the opportunity.

The game is finally about to be released (Sept 5 in Europe, and Sept 7 in the United States). PC World describes it in its September issue under the title “Spore: An Innovative Game With a God Complex.” It describes it as “a groundbreaking evolution simulation where you foster life, from its single-celled origins to its spread as a space-faring civilization.” You can even “Share your own creations (be they life-forms, vehicles, or buildings) with the world via the game, on YouTube, or by e-mail …”

Several observations come to my mind. I note that the article’s title refers to a “God complex,” not a “chance complex.” It seems to be impossible to describe the game without references to a creative process. It has taken at least eight years for the very intelligent game programmers to develop whatever illusion of chance exists in the game. I doubt that they ever imagined that such a process would be easy to – (I’m trying to come up with a non-ID term, oh, well) – to create. I am impressed with anyone with such talent.

But here is what would really impress me.
Start from nothing – really nothing – nothing-nothing and let the game create itself. I’m reminded of an email that went around a while back about a contest between God and the devil over creating beings. As the game was about to begin, Satan complained about needing materials for the process. God responds, “ Make your own dirt!” So my first challenge – let the game begin – by itself, out of nothing.

Then I will be impressed.

Ok. Let’s set assume the presence of stuff, laying aside the question of how it came into existence. Gather all the stuff you need to get the game into its present state of existence – I mean the elements from the periodic table – not the CPU’s, RAM, hard drives, etc., etc.. I’ll ignore, for the sake of this challenge, the design implications of making your materials list.

With all your materials together, place them in your most ideal location so that they receive the best possible environmental influences and external energy sources to cause all your stuff to assemble into your remarkable video game. Again, I’ll ignore the intelligence required to figure out such an environment. No intelligence allowed from here on however – only time, chance, and natural processes allowed from this point on.

Give it all the time you think you’ll need – more if you’d like a fudge factor. Use as many such piles to allow for more opportunities and speed things up. Use as many variations and combinations of stuff-piles and environments.

When that all comes together into your game, I’ll be really impressed.

A point on which we both would agree is that neither of us would be around long enough to see a successful result if it did take place. I suspect that the existence of the game itself already proves that it has happened by time, chance and natural processes. After all, it’s here isn’t it? How else could it be here?

Such faith impresses me.

Take the game from where it is today. See if you can out-design God. Or, your way: see if you can out-design time, chance, and natural processes. What I’ve seen so far of Spore creatures are weird beings that don’t appear very viable to me. But I’ll let you be god of your own little universe. How does it stack up against the real thing? Have you done better? Give it your most intelligent and best shot. (There’s that “i” word again!)

Now try this:
Make a being in your little universe that is essentially like you – not flesh and blood human in our time and space world but a reflection of your essence in its electronic world. Once you’ve done that, figure out a way to literally put yourself into the game (electrons, bits, bytes, pixels, etc.) as one of your beings – not just an avatar, but fully whatever-you-call-him, yet still fully human as you are out here. Cool, huh?
Now – figure out and make a way that when the computer’s power is shut off, your being can come out into our space-time world and live the rest of your life as your friend and companion.

Wow! That would impress me.

Flying Spaghetti Monster

While Lynda and I were in Barnes and Noble last evening and I was on my usual path to the computer section, my attention was drawn to a prominently displayed book. It was a bright red book titled The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, by Bobby Henderson.

It was rather obvious that it was a parody on something – very likely against theism in some way. And so it is. It turns out to be a development of the statement made by Mr. Henderson about a decision of the Kansas State Board of Education that intelligent design must be taught as an alternative to biological evolution in public schools. In an open letter to the board, Henderson calls for equal treatment of his belief in the “Pastapharian” theory of creation, obviously mocking their decision, but considering such an option as just as logical.

I wanted to say something clever to the Barnes and Noble lady who greeted me as I glanced through the book, questioning why such a volume should be so prominently displayed. But as usual I came up blank – until after bed time. (It was 11:20 pm as I penned the first draft of this.)

The book was resting in an acrylic stand on a workstation table about chest high and facing the incoming traffic along a narrow walkway beside the escalator. What I now wish had come to my mind then was to ask her how the book came to be placed in such a position, and then to proceed:
– What processes were involved in getting it into the hands of the intelligent person who made the decisions to place it in such a location?
– How did the book itself come together?
– What processes were involved
– in the pages becoming bound together?
– in the printing of the pages?
– in the arrangement of the letters into the words – sentences – paragraphs?
– in the fabrication of the paper?
– in the design and fabrication of the parts of and assembly of the machinery to print it?
– This could go on and on, but what about
– the transportation system to get it there (vehicles, roads, drivers, maps & navigation systems)
– Postal system to plan and take advantage of the transportation system
– Payment and accounting system to
– buy the books so they could be stocked
– sell the books
– pay the employees
– again, this could go on and on
How many of these and so many other systems involved in getting that book into place on its acrylic stand can, with a straight face, be attributed to time, chance and natural processes?

Which of the steps were just allowed to happen by chance?

Oh, and don’t forget that this is just one of thousands of books on tables, racks and shelves all neatly and intelligently organized and arranged (at least originally) for maximum sales appeal so that customers can find them, buy them and make money for a large national organization.

– How does all this compare to the organization and order of a simple flower that grows, reproduces itself – attracting insects to help the process – and is beautiful to boot, and is a single example of a huge variety of plants and animals?

Which is more complex – the book store and its history and assembly, or living organisms?

Who’s really being silly?

[Reminder: See my caveat in the pages on the right.]