Tuesday, November 4, 2008



(Written before election results know.)

There is a theory out there that says if you have a million monkeys typing randomly on a million typewriters they will eventually produce the entire works of William Shakespeare in Church Latin with footnotes. I suppose it is possible that this is true but probably impossible to prove because of the difficulties in finding a million typewriters these days and no computer’s shelf life lasting long enough to put this theory to the test.

This is the same theory that is used to say that human life came about. Without any Divine plan (some would say) and through absolutely random occurrences life began and developed into what has become millions upon millions of people typing on millions of computers randomly hoping to reproduce something as spectacular as William Shakespeare’s writings. Good luck.

This blows our minds – the Shakespeare part - that such incredible order would be wrought out of such randomness. But of course it is not randomness. Not entirely. There is already the substructure of letters and a limited number of ways which they can be put together because of the mechanics of the typewriter. For this theory to really take off, we would have to say (and in essence we do) that left to itself, primordial ooze will eventually reproduce the Bard’s complete opus.

You know, I could almost buy this theory for the creation of humans if we only had the power to see, or if we only had the power to hear. But we have the power to see, to hear, to smell, to feel, and to taste. But that is not all. These also work in concert and we have cognitive abilities to put them together and come to conclusions based on the information. “I see a threatening sky, I hear thunder, I feel rain, I better seek shelter.” Have you ever thought about this? How absurdly incredible this is? I can’t even get my computer to talk to my printer. The sheer magnitude of the genius of the human person astounds me. The mathematical probabilities verge on the unimaginable that it is all a random fluke. (Although I am assured that we are dealing with almost infinite time and infinite situations which makes it possible for primordial ooze to create Elizabethan literature. At this point an infinite God seems a more sane possibility.)

But if a fluke, it is also sad. Existence is a fluke. What greater good is there to appreciate it? Why recycle that water bottle? To save life for the next generation? Why? It really would not matter if the next generation existed or not. Who cares? They can't. As soon as my body temperature drops a few degrees and there is six feet of organic matter piled on top of a box holding a once fluke of life, I will not rest assured that I did good for future generations. I won’t care. As a matter of fact, I won’t be able even to not care. And there will be no cognitive force to think, “Gee, isn’t that too bad?” It is not good to exist and evil not to. There just is existing and not existing. But statistically, with enough time, primordial ooze will congeal back and “I” will exist again given enough sub atomic particles are given enough typewriters.

Extreme rationalism can explain this whole un-mess including our desire for our God. “We invented God in order to be able to handle life.” Actually any explanation for our desire for God is permissible except for the easiest: That there is God – and if nothing else, He guided the million atoms on their typewriters.

In the end I accept the wager that there is God that gives meaning, direction, hope, and joy to us in this life, especially this month in which we remember the Poor Souls. Beauty must have meaning outside of me or it isn’t beauty. It is a card shark’s game in which we will all lose and it won’t matter.


Anonymous said...

Ooooooooo......questioning random selection! I’m impressed! Even I am wary of bringing up this hot-button issue!

There are lots of resources that do the math to prove that a million monkeys given a million years will not type even one sentence, any sentence, of 100 characters. The probability is always "one in a huge number" - and by huge I mean bigger that the number of atoms presumed to be in the universe.

Of course, even if it were true, you started with monkeys and typewriters, and where did THEIR order come from?


Anonymous said...

Interesting, and time better spent than watching the tube ever, but especially last night.

Anonymous said...

What can I say but that January, too, is GW's fault via the extreme anti-Republicanism he provoked, and/or that pro-life's work has just quintupled perhaps for decades to come...because a great number of Catholics did not listen to their clergy and thus, did not vote Catholic-ly? Well, I already got in Catholic-venue trouble for referring to him as Barabbas Obama, even without saying that we have complicitly elected a homogamy-protecting, womb-rifling, youth-worker-movement-type American citizen whose greatest claim to fame seems to be his unique colour.

So, in keeping with Fr. V.'s pre-election musing theme, it suffices to say that today it seems to me that whomever first coined the phrase, "missing link," overestimated the case.

Anonymous said...

Dear Carol, If you are inclined to blame Bush for making people hate Republicans and their policies, please remember that Bush has been a target of the media ever since he publicly declared his faith in Jesus Christ as his personal saviour (and also spoke of Jesus in response to an interview question asked of then-candiddate Bush about who was his favorite “philosopher”). Since then, the media have attempted to convince people that Bush is a stupid buffoon. Most people have been taken in by this media bias, and it all started because of his testimony of faith. I do not plan to defend his presidential record because I am not in a position to know all that he knew in order to make the decisions he made. However, thanks to Bush, we have, at the federal level, some meaningful protection of the unborn that was never possible under Clinton, “Bush I”, Reagan or “Born Again” Carter. From my memory, I can list the federal law banning partial birth abortion (which was finally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2007); “Laci and Connor’s Law”—a pregnant woman’s murder will be prosecuted at two wrongful deaths. The “Born Alive Infants Protection Act”—a baby born alive as the result of a botched abortion will receive medical care, even if the child will not ultimately survive. Also, he has reinstated/upheld and not vetoed the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions, and the "Mexico City Policy," which has barred the use of federal taxpayers' money to pay for abortions in other countries. In addition, he limited federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (maybe he should not have allowed any funding--some pro-lifers have differing opinions about this decision). I don't mean to be contentious in presenting these comments, but I do not believe that Bush lost this election for us. The media "gave" it to Obama.

Anonymous said...

Pat, I appreciate your defense of the man, and your offense against the media, but I am not swayed by popular American media, and have worked in pro-life for decades and have friends in legislature as well as lining the tiny patch of sidewalk they're allowed to pray on before abortion clinics, and family/friends in the armed forces and know, thus, what Bush could've done for pro-life. He gets fewer pro-life kudos from me; if he wasn't operating under delusions of Messiah-grandeur from his clemency-chuckling Texas execution chambers onward, at least 20,000 Americans wouldn't be crippled/blinded for life, now, and only God knows how many Mideasterners, too, along with the dead and land-poisoned to come (General: "We don't do body counts" Hey, we don't do sanctions counts, either, apparently--already, we're talking numbers in the hundreds of thousands); 300+ American soldiers wouldn't have killed themselves; our kids playing soccer this year wouldn't be promised to war in a few years, etc. It is very easy to sign a piece of paper that thousands worked exhaustingly for years to bring forth; the honor is theirs, not Bush's.

I still maintain that Bush is why we have Obama. Even tho' O has said to our faces that he plans to war, TOO, the majority of Americans were so against GW's same ol same ol, my dear, for the sake of "change" we'd have voted in Daffy Duck --and cried and hugged in Times Square over him. We're numb.

There's a great Russian prophetic writer, Soloviev. His tale of the coming of the Antichrist is timeless and now, I'm afraid, timely. I'd say Abbot Joseph and Michael O'Brien agree that this isn't a political moment. It's far worse.

I must be done with this topic textually. I just hope God isn't done with His clemency and help for America; our Christian/Catholic battles have just increased even more than fifty-millionfold.

uncle jim said...

Blaise Pascal, anyone?