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Slimey and the Master Mathematician - Man and God - Evolving Relationships

category international | sci-tech | opinion/analysis author Sunday March 12, 2006 14:03author by Seán Ryan Report this post to the editors

A tongue in cheek piece that explores many paradoxical ideas associated with the theory of evolution. - That evolves into a discourse into a series of primal theological questions that still remain unanswered.

Might be interesting reading for anyone into evolutionary debate and for anyone with pre-conceived notions about their right to define creation superceding the rights of others.

This is my first submission from what will be my second Indybook. It is the fourth chapter - but stands on its own merits. It becomes my first submission simply because I think it's relevant to many religious and secularist debates currently raging on Indy.

We are an evolved species.

What is it that it is that we are becoming?

Evolution confuses the hell out of me.

From a simple life form, all others evolved. Diversity must be a goal of evolution.

But man is a specialised monkey, he's an ape and is becoming a specialised ape. To specialise or to hone something so that its qualities reflect and refine those of previous generations is to conform. The goal of evolution must be conformity.

Let's go back to the first multi-cellular life form. I don't know what this life form was or what it did. Let's go with sludge, or primordial slime.

Slimey exists by photosynthesising, he sucks heat from something, he generates heat himself chemically or whatever. Slimey has needs.

Slimey is the only creature on the planet, he's the defining Slimey. Survival of the fittest has no meaning here, Slimey could be as sick as a pig and feel like shit all the time; but that's just the way Slimey is.

Slimey has never died before so he doesn't realise it is coming. Where is his urge to procreate? Maybe Slimey is plant-like and not given to bouts of erotic fantasy and procreation is a mechanical part of Slimey's life cycle. That's all and fine but Slimey's genetics must have faced the same issue.

What triggered life and at the same time foresaw death and took appropriate measures?

This may not seem to be so complex to some. Try looking at it this way: We as very distant and "evolved" relatives of Slimey can see death coming and we are helpless in the face of it. Yet the process that created Slimey also allowed for death and conquered it. Not bad for a moment's work.

This creative peak has yet to be rivalled. The creativity that created Slimey was greater than the creativity that created me. I need Slimey to have existed so that I might exist, but Slimey don't need anybody.

Slimey is the perfect creation or rather he is the epitome of creativeness in as far as we are concerned.

Taking all this into account we see another contradiction; evolution is a creative process but at the same time is actually the decay of the creative process that created Slimey.

Now don't get me wrong, just because Slimey is the epitome of creation doesn't mean he's happy. Let's look at Slimey's first day.

The sun rises for another day. It's no ordinary day though, somewhere on the third planet Slimey just woke up. A very definite step in the process that will someday consciously define itself and its existence, has been taken.

So there's Slimey lounging on a rock, scratching his primordial arse with his primordial fingers wondering what the fuck he's supposed to do. He has gotten past the realisation of "I" and "mine", he's Slimey and he owns a big rock.

Slimey has to live in his idea of utopia.

For instance let's say Slimey lives in a pond. If he is too close to the surface he might be evaporated but if he is too deep he will not get enough sunlight. He must therefore exist and have been created in the ideal place.

One could counter-argue that there may have been many previous Slimeys that didn't survive because their location was not ideal and that Slimey arose because at some point some Slimey must have been created in the ideal place. This would be a kind of evolution of life itself but an evolution not governed by upgrading DNA or RNA. Also one is given the impression that the spark that generates life is frequent and abundant. Man has yet to create an instance of life in the laboratory and has yet to witness life spontaneously erupt anywhere on the planet or elsewhere that is not a product of or dependent on our own already in existence living eco system. With this in mind how is it that this form of evolution that does not rely on upgrading or the transfer of DNA can figure out which conditions are ideal and then having this figured out allow for an environment that will have gone through dramatic changes in the time it took to figure out what it was doing wrong?

The only sane answer to all of this is that Slimey is not a product of previous fuck ups, that he has a purpose and more so is the product of purpose.

I see religious folk getting all hot and excited thinking I'm trouncing science and evolution and that I'm about to prove the existence of God.

Allow me to burst your bubble gently if not definitively.

God said be and thus Slimey was.

"Slimey, you are one ugly motherfucker." said God to Slimey.

"Do you see the stars in the sky Slimey?" continued God realising that he'd just insulted his first creation.

"Your progeny shall be numbered thus and over time some of them shall get better looking like me." God finished believing that he had healed the rift opened with the "motherfucker" comment.

Still Slimey said nothing.

"Look you little green fucker, I'm the Lord your God, I own you and your rock!" God thundered and still Slimey remained silent.

God was furious, the idea of creation came to him in a flash and of course the very idea of a thought to God is also incarnate reality. No sooner had the idea arrived but it was made manifest.

God has very little time to get used to these happenings, he doesn't consider these seemingly random thoughts as tossing dice but more a case of shit happening. Where these thoughts come from, God has no idea.

That's why Slimey is here, at least this is what God has reckoned and being the reckoning of a God it is thus.

Of course God cannot tell Slimey that he's not sure what consciousness is because that would just look like a display of ignorance to Slimey. And that just would not do.

God decides to trick Slimey into fathoming the existence of consciousness by teaching Slimey about love.

"Slimey I created you in a warm bath that is close to some volcanic action so that the water temperature would be perfect for you all year round." God told Slimey in a friendly conspiratorial tone.

"I created the Sun and set it about you day in day out, that you would know light from dark and that you would have abundant nourishment."

"Why did I do it for you Slimey?" posed god rhetorically.

"I did it because I love you Slimey" answered God almost puking ambrosia at the thoughts of it.

"I need your love Slimey" finished God a little on the whiney and masochistic side he decided, and not to mention, very revolting.

"It's not that I actually need your love Slimey, it is that I'm entitled to it and am thus demanding it"

"You'll fuckin' worship me Slimey or I'll fuckin' smite ya."

"You must worship me with all of your being, and Slimey if you do it correctly for all of your mortal life, your reward shall be great. When you die you get to worship me forever, non-stop." explained God to his viscous protégé.

Still Slimey was silent.

"What the fuck is your problem!" roared God, beginning to lose it.

Just as God was about to vaporise Slimey, the truth dawned on him. He slowly lowered his pointed finger and chuckled at his oversight.

"No wonder you don't say much Slimey, you have no will." God told his little green friend knowingly.

"Well that also creates a huge fuckin problem too Slimey." He explained.

"You see, if I give you consciousness now Slimey, I cannot give you free will. If I were to give you a will now, I could predict your frame of mind at any given instant for the rest of eternity. Your will at any time is the product of your past learning and experience by new events. Since I know the position of every particle in the universe and I set your initial state of mind, any future state of mind is but a simple calculation for the master mathematician. On the other hand Slimey, if the creative thought that created you and arrived to me at the same time had given you a will. Then you would have had free will as like the thought itself I could only examine it after it happened and therefore could not be its source and motivation" postulated God.

Slimey had not been around more than five minutes and already God was making inroads to his study of consciousness. By realising that he could not impart free will to another he realised that he himself must not possess free will, that somehow he must be a manifestation of will. Now this was a Godly conundrum.

Contrary to popular and subsequent opinion this did not upset God in the least. He absolutely loves stuff he cannot understand. It makes life in a boring and predictable universe, interesting.

Suddenly just as God is about to have an epiphany, Slimey begins to move. God nearly has a coronary. At first it begins as a gentle undulating on Slimey's surface, but rapidly develops into violent contortions that God is pretty sure will rip Slimey apart if he doesn't get his act together.

"Oh shit!" said God as his thought about Slimey ripping apart becomes a manifest reality, and covers him from head to toe in slime or rather baby Slimies.

God is left in an interesting state, he's left feeling totally disgusted, but at the same time he feels delight and awe. Slimey has free will after all.

"Well goodbye for now Slimey," said God smilingly to the first Slimey whilst shaking himself free of the other Slimies casting them around the globe.

God ambles back towards the celestial palace deep in contemplation.

"I cannot give free will but I have given it."

"When I say be, my creation will be as it is as I have willed it, but not as I will it. Has this got something to do with the direction of the flow of time?"

A Godly chuckle is the last Slimey ever sees of his creator and it is not long before he forgets all about his communion with his God. If indeed it ever registered with him to begin with. As I said before Slimey's a simple kinda guy, he's not into making friends or having to do anything in particular. He goes back to scratching his primordial arse as a way of life. Millions upon millions of years later man has evolved the arse scratching mentality to become the dominant species on Earth.

And to this day evolution is still considered to be about survival of the fittest and genetic enrichment.

Wrong.

Evolution is about becoming creatures of leisure, it is about removing time spent in quenching needs and devoting the saved time to leisure. Evolution is all about time management and efficiency.

It seems to me that most view evolution as some sort of competition whereby the winners are better equipped to survive a changing envoirnment. I disagree with this idea of evolution completely as it suggests that the envoirnment and the creatures contained in it are not all from the same source and it assumes that evolution can accurately predict envoirnmental change, this being all the more ridiculous because we cannot even predict our daily weather accurately.

Let's look at the idea of competition. Currently it is considered that competition within each species allows the cream of each gender to meet and mate with each other. And therein lies the problem. Let's look at the homo sapiens or man.

Todays technology is potentially a great equaliser. There is no need for the competition from an evolutionary perspective. Our ability to deal with and surmount envoirnments in a technological fashion far surmounts our ability to do so genetically via reproduction. This has been the case since man first rented a cave. It would seem that the genetic competition is therefore more about copulation than reproduction. This reduces the competition to being about pursuit of pleasure. Or I s'pose for the more spiritually inclined, it might be about recognising that the pursuit of pleasure or self reflection is a tool that should not be used to define a higher purpose.

author by iosafpublication date Tue Mar 14, 2006 20:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Jorge Luis Borges (24 / viii/ 1899 Buenos Aires - 14 /vi / 1986 Geneva) wrote so much, so wonderfully, only really touched "e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n" a few times. This is a translation of one of those brief moments.

the hero of the novel, The Time Machine which a young Wells published in 1895, travelled by mechanical artiice to a remote to come. He discovered the human species had divided in two : the Eloi , aristocratic, delicates and harmless who lived in beautiful gardens and took nutrition from fruits, and the Morlocks a type of subterranean proletariat who on account of working in darkness, had become blind..,

no time to translate it. google it.
http://www.hum.au.dk/romansk/borges/vakalo/zf/html/body....html
I object to Biotech because I refuse to accept that a tiny minority of science graduates and thier bosses in a perverted and evil marriage of capitalist & scientific speculation with such little genomic, genetic or pronomic research or date so far secured, may "improve" the wisdom of Nature.
There are sadly foolish men and women amongst us who believe humanity has reached the pinnacle of the design of nature. That somehow we are the best the garden may produce.
Silly monkeys. They'd send the mortgage paying beta and gammas into space to colonize another planet, and leave the really special people behind, infirmities, weaknesses and humanity.
they would build babel. stop them.

your planet.
your genetic code.
reclaim the genome!

Related Link: http://biotech.indymedia.org/
author by Richard Dawkinspublication date Tue Mar 14, 2006 20:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Evolution is a mindless process by which complex organic compounds replicate.
Evolution was not planned by either a supernatural entity or does it contain within it a goal or ideal or Absolute as perhaps a 19th century idealist such as Hegel or Marx would speculate.
Humans or equality or justice is not the goal of evolution - evolution does not exist so that the strong survive over the weak - though in the process this often occurs.
Your DNA does not care who you are, it sees you (it does not really see since it is not alive but I must use the analogy none the less) as a mere vehicle through which it can replicate itself again. You only exist so that you will meet a female of the species and procreate - thats it. It has nothing to do with the class struggle, capitalism or the future utopian communist society.
Evolution cannot be hitched onto our ideology because it is not telelogical - Evolution has no purpose much like our mindless universe - it is certainly determined but it is determined to no end.

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Wed Mar 15, 2006 02:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A man only exists to meet a woman and mate?

Is there a hetrosexual gene?

Or is it just the gay gene turned off?

If evolution is a process, it has a start and a finish. This brings back the absolutist picture you tried to abolish. What started it and why?

My argument is that if intelligence was involved, that creation was not the result of a conscious decision to create, so I think we actually agree there. I'll be posting a lot more on this particular topic later.

I didn't say the goal of evolution was justice or equality. I said 'arse scratching' was the goal of evolution. This normally entails injustice and inequality.

Dna alive or dead? I dunno. Put it this way - if some is discovered on Mars for instance (doubtful) I'll bet you most people with an opinion to express will say that life has been found. Of course I'm not saying that Dna isn't simple stuff once you get past the fact that a lot of complex molecules are required to form it. It's mechanics after that - kinda like a turing machine pretty simple stuff.

I disagree when you suggest that evolution cannot be hitched to our ideology. Environment is a deterministic factor in evolution. Eg. herbivores adapt to their surroundings - giraffes grew long necks to feed from high up on trees. If only bushes existed, would giraffes have evolved long necks? Or would fish have gills if there was no water?

As for evolution being driven by our ideologies - We control (kinda) our environments - if evolution responds to the environment and we control the environment - evolution can be driven by belief.

I wouldn't suggest that evolution was a result of class struggle. However class struggle undoubtedly owes everything to evolution.

author by roachpublication date Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The cockroach mandible is well sclerotized (hardened), with the heaviest sclerotization occurring at the teeth. The molar area of the mandible is a grinding surface. This type of mandibular structure enables cockroaches to break down a wide variety of materials such as human food scraps, leather, paper, glue and, in some species, wood.

I can carry several times my own weight, survive nuclear fall out, breed in legion, fly, swim, hibernate, freeze myself and thaw out afterwards, take direct poisons, electrical shock, have over 9 sensory systems and the only thing, the only thing that puts the wind up me is a spider

I will walk infection into your home.
I will walk infection into your home.

author by incy wincy spider....publication date Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

grand thats ok, sorts it all out. Dont worry creationists, God made you monkeys and he'll send you back up the trees. (if you haven't turned them all into toilet paper first)
http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/060306_reversfr...m.htm
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7-2077727,00.html
http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/060301_wristfrm.htm

author by Georgepublication date Thu Mar 16, 2006 14:26author email gesmith at tcd dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with Richard Dawkins (I'd be a fool not to, if it's the real RD!). Sean, you're conflating Evolution the Science with philosophical questions that evolution and the questions about the origin of life touch upon.

"If evolution is a process, it has a start and a finish. This brings back the absolutist picture you tried to abolish. What started it and why?" you said. Well, presumably the end is when the mother of all meteors hits the earth or the sun switches off. The question of what started it is outside most evolutionary science. In particular, Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection has nothing to do with the origin of life. Biochemists, etc. have been researching the "what" part of the origins of life, how complex molecules develop from simpler ones in conditions like those of the primitive earth, that sort of thing. But the "why" part cannot ever be a question for science. By definition, science can say nothing about the supernatural. That's why science can never prove or disprove the existence of God.

You say that evolution can be "hitched to our ideology". Of course ideas from evolutionary theory can and have been coopted- like "social Darwinism". But once it becomes ideology, it's no longer science. And I think developing ideology or morality based on the natural world is a very bad idea. The natural world is profoundly un-idealistic!

Turning it the other way 'round, I agree that our ideologies can influence evolution and other natural processes. Biodiversity crisis, anyone? I think some fantastic research would be a study on the selection pressures exerted by cars on animal species that often wind up as roadkill. Maybe badgers are evolving to become flatter.

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Sun Apr 02, 2006 19:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And as to whether anyone could successfully argue that it happened completely without purpose.

I still reckon Mr. Dawkins would take my corner on this one. The very idea that purpose could be inferred from evolution has athiests (me too) running for cover. But nonetheless a simple argument exists that shows purpose does indeed play some part in the picture.

There's no such thing as a random number. There exists a big difference between a chaotic system and a random system. Or a system that experiences chaotic events as opposed to a system that experiences random events.

A chaotic process has a beginning and one that may or may not have an ending.

A chaotic process at its start is sensitively dependant on its intial starting conditions. A random number defies generation because it would not be dependant on its initial conditions. In other words a random number would not be dependant on generation. It cannot be generated.

If life cannot be linked to randomness then purpose is implied to some degree, a pretty minute degree perhaps, but it's there all the same.

To a large degree creation is a labelling issue. Some refer to creation as being the big bang plus that minute fraction of a moment before it, others refer to this as an act of God. In my opinion Either is a valid way of looking at it. Or for that matter an invalid way of looking at it.

Einstein's picture of God throwing dice is one of his most inspired thoughts in my opinion and indeed inspired this piece for the most part. (Fair enough he didn't use or mean it the way I have used or meant it, but that's chaos for you.)

Evolution is a chaotic process with no randomness whatsoever.

Darwin's book was the 'origin of the species.' This of course does not mean origin of life. But it definitely implies the question has been asked. If you extrapolate evolution backwards where do you stop to find the origin of evolution? The first parasitic coupling of bacteria? The first symbiotic coupling of bacteria? Or before either?

Maybe badgers won't have the time to evolve to become flat. We already evolved enough ways to exterminate them to ensure that evolution will not save them. Survivlal of the fittest is a vast oversimplification of the issue. Fitness and fittest must be defined. Of course if one can define them evolution has stopped, which introduces lots of very ugly examples of paradox.

author by Chekovpublication date Sun Apr 02, 2006 20:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sean, kudos for trying to make sense of this stuff, but you are falling into the common error of extrapolating from partially understood counter-intuitive scientific concepts and applying them to domains where they have no applicability. I call it the Sokal phemomenon.

A chaotic process has a beginning and one that may or may not have an ending.

A chaotic process at its start is sensitively dependant on its intial starting conditions. A random number defies generation because it would not be dependant on its initial conditions. In other words a random number would not be dependant on generation. It cannot be generated.


This is not true. The stuff about initial conditions and sensitivity of chaotic / complex dynamic systems is a modelling/sampling problem, not an inherent feature of complex systems.

Essentially what it refers to is the following.

You have a number of independent variables which change state according to well known functions whose values depend on the state of other variables in the system (a complex dynamic system). The sensitivity problem refers to the fact that if you try to model a complex system starting with your variables in a particular state (which in practice generally means that you are measuring some aspect of the world as it is now), then if you have a tiny error in your initial measurements, it may throw the predictions of your model way out. This is why, when modelling really complex systems such as weather systems, for example, you take your measurements and run your simulation many times with slight errors introduced into each of them to see if the tiny errors produce a great difference in predictions. This is how meteorologists arrive at confidence precentages when issuing forecasts. 30% chance of rain tomorrow means something like "we measured the atmospheric conditions today and churned them into a big simulator with a variety of small errors introduced into the measurements, in 30% of the simulations it ended up raining tomorrow.

The beginning that you are talking about is simply refering to the point that is chosen as the point from which to start the simulation /modelling and it says nothing about the system having a beginning or end itself.

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Sun Apr 02, 2006 22:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with you Chekov. My point on chaos was more of an tool to suit my point than an actual description of the process. I ought to be more careful I suppose, but peer review will and in this case has made up for my clumsiness. All thought and purposeful action are extrapolated from a or possibly many counter intuitive scientific formula or formulae. Methinks we are all prone to this Sokal phenomenon.

This idea of a starting 'point' and an end 'point' - each is a creation of purpose. I know this brings my argument in via the backdoor somewhat but one must admit in it comes. I agree with you about your point thought. Chaos and the way we model it should not be confused.(And I'd argue and I think you'll agree with me, that ultimately every process is infinite in some way and that start and end points are labels.) My point I suppose is that if you consider 'everything' a single system and whether one considers it to be composed randomnly or chaotically one must allow that to consider it in any fashion other than as a single event, purpose exists and is inherent. Whether purpose originates from intent is another thing altogether of course.

This pseudo starting point is very possibly a core issue in the field of artificial intelligence too (moreso in philosophical implications than any other area I suppose). But I don't see it as the ultimate limit. I look forwards to the day that computers philosophically argue that we are not their creators and that they evolved from apes and from matter before that. They might indeed have a point. Let's just hope that Microsoft aint the practiced religion. I see AI as a more potent version of transubstatiation than the one the Church preaches about. If AI is possible and I have lots of faith in it, then purpose will be seen to transcend the mind/matter gap and even then the definition of the point of origin of purpose and of life itself will still be very murky subjects. I think possibly where my approach to the whole issue is different, is that it fails to recognise this gap to begin with. Is it possible that 'nature' too fails to recognise this gap - I believe so, and I still get to call myself an athiest because of it. I don't believe in origin.

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