Essay:Ramblings of an Idiot

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Feel free to move this stuff to somewhere else if this is not the proper place. Or for that matter, to remove it from this wiki if you don't like it.

Just some random thoughts that come to my mind as I navigate this place. Consider this as a work in progress. The outcome will depend on many factors, not least your feedback (or lack thereof).

In the beginning there was...[edit]

So one day man became conscious and began asking lots of questions about the world that surrounded him and - about himself. Some of the things that he observed evidently had an immediate cause: if you throw a stone in the water, it will make waves. So who made those waves? It was you throwing the stone, so no mystery there. But who makes the wind and the rain? Who is holding up the sky? And where do we all come from in the first place?

Some of these questions turned out hard to answer. And since man apparently has an innate aversion against unanswered questions, he began to make up stories that somehow explained all those mysterious ongoings.

A recurring idea was to attribute those phenomena to some very powerful beings, sometimes called gods. Some cultures made up a huge cast of them, others were satisfied with just one. Since those beings had the ability to do lots of miraculous things, it seemed quite natural to assume that they were also responsible for the creation of man.

For a long time man was mostly satisfied with those explanations. But then it became more and more apparent that for some phenomena, there were more likely explanations that did not involve supernatural beings. So maybe a thunderstorm is not an expression of the wrath of the gods, but it has something to do with electric charges building up.

It turned out that actually a lot of phenomena could be attributed to natural causes, without needing to resort to the supernatural. This was called science, and it has led many to the conclusion that we no longer need the old fairy tales.

So where do we come from then? According to science, what happened is most likely something like this: very very long ago, some primitive life forms formed in the Primordial Soup by random chemical processes. These life forms multiplied, initially just by splitting themselves. However, due to various factors, random changes were occasionally introduced during reproduction. Some of those changes were good, some were bad, and the good organisms survived and multiplied, and the bad ones did not. By this process, more and more complex life forms came into being, culminating in man. You could certainly explain all of this much better.

However, not everybody was happy with this explanation. In particular, some who still believed in some form of divinity (though by far not all of them), were appalled at the idea. How could man, this divine creature, descend from some bacteria in a dirty pond? The blasphemy! Interestingly, the same people perfectly accept that, according to some of the ancient creation accounts, like for example the book of Genesis, man was formed by the divinity - from dust or clay.

Chance[edit]

So there was no mighty old man with a long white beard sitting on the clouds and shaping man out of clay. Man was really created by - natural selection? Well, no, not exactly. Natural selection has to do with the survival of the fittest. But in order to survive, you have to exist in the first place. So, who or what created man in the first place? As we have said, new organisms originated from the existing ones by random changes. Thus, the answer according to evolution is: man was created by chance.

In short, we have replaced "divinity" by "chance". The theory of evolution proposes a mechanism by which the human race came into existence. But this is not a deterministic mechanism, like a clockwork that will behave in a predictable and reproducible way. There is a random element in this mechanism, and so the answer of science to our existence is, ultimately, simply "it just happened".

To be continued (maybe).