Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brittle Life

I never found farting jokes funny. Sex jokes sometimes, my South Park phase lasted about a month, but flauti, never did it for me. So when I heard that comic Ben Stein was doing a movie called "Expelled," I thought that it was a movie that was going be eminently stupid and avoidable. If only the world were so lucky.

No, Stein's magnum opus is on how the Evils of Darwinism lead to the Nazis, and that the salvation of Intelligent Design will save us all from this. Now, one can make a case for all sorts of things leading to the Nazis, the period is a stew of misbegotten ideas, and Hilter was a goose who crammed down occultism, vegetarianism, Wagnerism, Nietzschean will to power, and a hoard of other ghosts of ideas past into his concoction. But in the end, Totalitarianism was what made the Nazi machine one of the worst imaginable.

PZ Myers, who appeared recently on Virtually Speaking collected his three favorite responses to the movie. One of which is a long two part post by Troy Britain which looks at how this is another example of the old Young Earth Creationism born again to question Darwinian theory. But really, all of the scientific revolution, because there is no aspect of our existence as scientific beings, which is not tied together. No objection raised to Natural Selection, cannot be, with simple changes, raised about all of modern science.

You might ask what this has to do with Second Life, or Virtual Reality in general. I think I can answer that. One problem of our simulations of the outside, is that they are brittle, and not adaptive. There are many lessons in Second Life, one of them is that human systems are brittle, centralized, and directed. Natural ones are more flexible, in part because they do not have the same directedness. We want Second Life to look like something, nature does not care what creatures evolve out of a system. God, if there was one, is as likely to have made a world that fell apart, and like software, would need constant intervention. From this, I think, I can draw the lesson of VR to biology, to argue for supernatural intervention once, is more or less to argue for it over and over and over again.

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