**God:**So here’s what I’ll do. Complex systems that can make more of themselves, which then make even more copies, and so on, are the most sophisticated designs imaginable. I’ll populate the planet Earth, which I threw together in the Milky Way the other day, with all sorts of these amazing systems. They will “multiply and fill the Earth” – you like that fancy language? – and persuade these “human beings,” which I also plan to make, that I exist. Kind of a two-fer deal.
Angels: Are you sure about that?
God: Definitely. Watch this. “Let there be bacteria, yeast, starfish, willows, dandelions, mice, cardinals, chipmunks, blue whales, barnacles, hummingbirds” – oh Me, this is taking too long. “Let the earth bring forth living things, after their kind.” Elegant and economical divine command, eh?
Angels: Doesn’t seem to be working. The persuasion part, anyway.
Lucretius (99-55 BCE):
“But knew I never what
The seeds primordial were, yet would I dare
This to affirm, even from deep judgments based
Upon the ways and conduct of the skies-
This to maintain by many a fact besides-
That in no wise the nature of all things
For us was fashioned by a power divine-
So great the faults it stands encumbered with.”
“Look round this universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organised, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living existences, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness! How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind Nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children!”
“But many naturalists think that something more is meant by the Natural System; they believe that it reveals the plan of the Creator; but unless it be specified whether order in time or space, or both, or what else is meant by the plan of the Creator, it seems to me that nothing is thus added to our knowledge.”
God: Well, that didn’t work.
Angels: We tried to warn you. Maybe you could make a Rolex or two? They’re impressive.
God: Nah, I’m done here. Luke 16:29-31. Print that on a business card for me. Hey, let’s go over to the Andromeda Galaxy and see what’s doing there.
Persistently needy angel: Could you at least make a Rolex for me?
God: I know this guy on the Lower East Side who deals them way below market. Here’s his cell number.
Needy angel: Oh come on, just make me one, real quick.
God: Anybody can make watches. I do organisms. How about a new species?
Needy angel: (sigh)
Back to read-only mode for me.