For the past few days I have been having a discussion with my friend on whether or not human beings are special. His contention was that recent studies have shown that animals exhibit a lot more intelligence then we previously thought them to possess, there is nothing special about human beings. They are simply products of evolution. I personally believe that life itself is special and human beings are more special because of their evolved intelligence and freewill.
I had written a post in June this year on what Alfred Wallace (the co-propounder of Theory of Natural Selection) had to say about divine intervention on the evolution of man. There is no doubt whatsoever that natural selection is a brilliant theory and corroborates our observation beautifully. However, I don’t think that it disproves the presence of intelligence in the creation.
I proposed this thought experiment to him during the course of our discussions.
Let us say we create a computer which is capable of reproducing. Many years have passed and human beings are extinct and nothing remains of their existence. Only thing that survives are these computers. Aliens visit the earth and find these awesome machines. First they think these must be created by intelligent beings.
Slowly they crack the secret of the computer. They understand the code, understand the working of the CPU and the circuits and then they understand the binary language. The basic building blocks are fairly simple. 1 & 0 and you have what appears to be an intelligent entity which does complex calculations. When they explore the world, they find predecessors of this intelligent machine. They find less and less complex versions until they uncover the first computer ever made. Now they have a clear picture of how computers evolved.
Would it be possible for the aliens to conclusively say that these are products of higher intelligence or merely an accident of nature? Although the probability of the first chip having formed on its own, is very low it is not impossible (in fact this probability in much higher then the probability of a gene forming by chance)
Note: Have you heard of Fred Hoyle’s Boeing 747 argument? He says “the probability of life originating on Earth is no greater than the probability that a tornado, sweeping through a junkyard, would assemble a working Boeing 747 airliner”. Hoyle calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 1040,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (1080), he argued that even a whole universe full of primordial soup wouldn’t have a chance.
I would love to brainstorm on this with all of you. Also, let me know how this experiment can be improved. Can you think of any other scenarios? What the logical flaws to this argument.