Sunday, 2 June 2013

Chicken and Egg

Neil’s Note: I’ve been contemplating the anthropic principle – the idea that the Universe we exist in must be helpful to conscious life, because if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here. And the conclusions some people derive from it. Here are some preliminary thoughts.
Once upon a time, a young chicken awoke in his egg.
“I am,” he thought. “And I think.
“Now, should that be ‘I think, therefore I am,’ or ‘I am, therefore I’ll think?’”
Our chicken also noticed that the universe he was in – he called it the ‘egg’ – was positively helpful to his life. “Why?” he asked.
Well, he thought, one possibility is that there’s only one egg, and it just happens to contain me. I’m lucky!
Another possibility is that there are lots of eggs, each with different conditions, so that most of them don’t support intelligent life. I just happen to be in one of the eggs which does support life. I’m lucky!
A third possibility is that an “Intelligent Designer” created this egg for me. I’m lucky!
A fourth is that something I don’t understand yet has made this egg congenial to me. Maybe I’m lucky, maybe not.
Our chicken grew and grew, and he broke out of his egg.
Then he grew further, and became a rooster. With his egg-memories intact, it was not hard for him to become a philosopher.
“There are lots of eggs,” he wrote, “and most can support life. Not just chickens, but other birds, fish and snakes too.
“But there is no Intelligent Designer. My Mom was intelligent enough, but she didn’t design my egg. She only laid it. If anything designed it, Evolution did.
“So my fourth theory must be correct. We don’t understand yet why the universe we live in is congenial to life. We need more research. Send more grant money.”
Our chicken became so famous, that he was invited to present on the conservative TV channel, FOX News.
All went well, until the foxy interviewer asked this question: “If your egg was such a wonderful place, and such a safe haven, why did you break out of it – destroying it in the process – into a place where we foxes could get you?”