The Absurdity of Two Life Origin Theories: ‘Life is a Simulation’ and ‘Mars Seeded Life To Earth’

“If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the Earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord. . . . So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will.” — Albert Einstein

Recently I saw an article in Scientific American that suggested there is a 50:50 probability that life as we know it is a computer simulation. In short, it stipulates that we are living ‘sims’ inside of a computer which some other intelligent being has created. Sound familiar? It might if you had seen the 1999 blockbuster movie The Matrix. And although the idea of living in a ‘matrix’ (ie. a computer simulation) sounds like a cool concept, the theory itself doesn’t have sci-fi roots, but rather has its origins in that specialty area of physics called quantum mechanics. In order to understand how the idea is related to quantum mechanics (or QM), first we need to understand a bit more about it. The cornerstone of QM basically states that all sub-atomic particles exist in a ‘stateless’ condition until they are observed. That is, all potential outcomes of an event are superimposed upon each other until a measurement is made causing only one potentiality to materialize. So for example, an electron in motion doesn’t really have a real position in space until it is measured. And indeed, that familiar concept of an atom we learned in school with electrons orbiting a nucleus like planets circling the sun, you should know, simply does not exist. As it is currently understood by science, electrons actually are smeared out in a probabilistic manner around the nucleus — sort of like an electron cloud or fog. It is only when the electron is measured — that is, interacts with a light wave or another particle — does the electron then truly come into existence and can be seen to have a definite position / momentum in space. This is not science fiction, but rather scientific orthodoxy. The idea has been around almost 100 years since it was first formulated in the 1920s by the father of the modern atom — Neils Bohr.

So how did QM specifically engender this idea of human beings living inside inside a computer simulation — or inside some “matrix” type world? This gist of it is, when you play a computer game as a character inside of a 2D or 3D scene, in order to save memory and CPU time, the program will render elements of any scene only if you, the player, need to see it. So if you are, say, Indiana Jones, and are running from a great big rock that is tumbling behind you, the computer will be rendering the rolling rock, and the cave walls that immediately surround your character. But because your Indiana Jones character is not yet in the jungle outside the cave — where his salvation lies — none of the trees, jungle or sky needs to be rendered by the graphics card. Likewise, the rock temple with its statues and ancient artifacts that your character fled just a moment ago also doesn’t need to be rendered, and can be cleared from the computer’s memory. In short, elements in the scene are represented only as they are needed.

This ‘on demand’ way of rendering things in a computer has a strong parallel with the notion of ‘observer created reality’ in QM. Similar to the act of measuring an electron, ‘observer created reality’ is the idea that when a conscious observer looks at the world, only at that moment do the objects come out of superposition and take on real properties — an event physicists call the “collapse of the wave function”. In essence, in the early days of QM theory, a few physicists started to belive that there was some special property of consciousness that was instrumental in this “collapse of the wave” function.

If we consider for a moment the famous double slit experiment — where the term “wave collpase” originated — we can simplify this idea and perhaps see how it engendered the concept of observer created reality.

The double slit experiment basically consisted of firing electrons one at a time at a barrier with two slits and a detector on the other side. As electrons were originally understood to be particles of matter, common sense dictated that if you fired these through two narrow slits, then two narrow bands should appear on the detector screen opposite the barrier. Instead, however, scientists observed a pattern of darker fringes in the center with increasing lighter bands toward the fringes. This ‘interference pattern’ they observed was identical to a pattern that which would be formed if a water wave had passed through the two slits separately and the peaks and troughs from both waves either combined or canceled each other out as they struck the detector. Scientists were thus forced to conclude that electrons were not acting as particles in this instance, but rather as waves. Essentially physicists theorized that a single electron fired at the barrier was splitting into two waves and interfering with itself as it passed through the two holes in the barrier. Physicists eventually theorized that the electron was guided by a mysterious ‘probability wave’ — one which ultimately allowed a physicist to calculate the likelihood the electron would strike the detector in a certain region. And indeed, thanks to the Austrian Erwin Schrödinger, the wave theory worked remarkably well.

Diagram of double slit experiment showing an inteference pattern.

Before this hypothesis of a ‘probability wave’ was made however, scientists studying the electron’s behavior tried to observe the path a single electron took through the apparatus. To do this, they placed a second detector before the barrier to see which slit the electron was actually passing through on any given trip. However, every time they observed the electron passing through the right or left slit, the electron would fly straight like an ordinary particle and make a mark on the detector directly behind the slit! In essence, when the electron was observed, it stopped behaving like a wave, and acted exactly like a normal macroscopic object such as a bullet or a baseball.

Shortly after this, a new experiment was designed to erase the knowledge of which path the electron had taken through the apparatus. Whenever the information was erased, scientists were amazed to discover that the interference pattern returned. Therefore, they concluded that what the wave collapse really required was human knowledge of the event. These physicists assumed that because only a conscious observer was capable of knowing which slit the electron passed through, left or right, they concluded that the act of observing/knowing alone was creating the electron’s reality.

So now we see, like our Indiana Jones game where the cave and tumbling rock are rendered by the computer only when they are required, we see too that QM espouses a similar idea that objects are not really there until they are observed. In the famous Copenhagen interpretation of QM — formulated by Neils Bohr and Werner Von Heisenberg in the 1920s — the extreme position was taken that there exists no objective reality at all, but only potentialities that come into being when an observation or a ‘measurement’ is made. What, however, constituted a measurement and caused ‘collapse of the wave function’ was for many years the object of contentious debate. For Albert Einstein, who strongly believed in an objective reality that was observer-independent, his oft-quoted comment was ‘Do you really believe the moon is not there when you’re not looking at it?” In short, the extremeness of the Copenhagen interpretation is also what led Erwin Schrödinger to poke fun at QM with his famous cat thought experiment. As the thought experiment goes, a quantity of radioactive material is placed inside a box with a cat; if the radioactive isotope decays at any given moment, then a vial of poison is broken and the cat dies. What QM advocates further, is that before the box is opened, the radioactive material is in a superposition of both decayed and not decayed states. So therefore the cat itself, whose life depends on the atomic event, would also exist in a state of both alive and dead until the box was opened and the cat was observed! What Schrödinger was trying to say — like Einstein — is that when it comes to the visible, macroscopic world in which we live, the idea of superposition — like an alive/dead cat — flies in the face of common sense reality.

For physicists today, it is a more accepted idea that both apparatus and human beings function as observers. More technically, whether or not a quantum event will show interference patterns, depends on the presence of coherent probability waves — that is, waves that are ‘in-step’ with each other. When an electron is isolated from its environment in a vacuum, QM theory states that it is guided by a single wave of probability. Moreover, when this probability wave splits at the double slit barrier, the two waves that emerge are ‘coherent’ or ‘in-step’ with one another. But when electrons come into contact with macroscopic systems — such as the physical apparatus or environment measuring the event — the probability waves of the device are ‘out-of-step’ with the electrons and thus mask the interference pattern and render the electron as a classically observed single point particle. This, at least, is the more orthodox theory accepted by physicists today.

So to answer the question, “does the moon exist even when we are not looking at it?”, the answer is yes because the environment is already there ‘measuring’ it.

So then finally if we reject this idea that a conscious observer is needed to create reality, we understand that this simulation theory of life loses some of its appeal. Indeed, if our physics had told us that the world itself is only “rendered” when a conscious being observes it, then this would have lent credence to the idea that we a living in a computer simulation. This is because the super computer of the advanced beings running our Earth simulation, our “matrix” program, would have rendered only those things that were being actively observed, would it not?

Alas, we leave this idea of observer created reality to the mystics.

But what if we considered this “life is a computer simulation” on just its merit as an “origin of life” theory like Darwinian evolution? We ask ourselves — what is the theory’s power to explain the details of our existence? Is it internally consistent? Is the theory probable?

Let’s consider it for a moment. If we accept that we are not real beings, but instead, are the creation of a computer program, we then have to postulate that some higher being existing now or some time in the past designed the computer and its software to run the simulation. But we see with this assumption, we are left in the same position that the Creationists leave us. We then have to ask: How did the programmers of this computer simulation come into existence? Did they evolve or perhaps were they themselves the product of yet another higher, more intelligent being’s computer simulation — in short, a simulation within a simulation? If we explain our existence here on Earth by hypothesizing that we are the creation of yet another higher organism, have we gained anything in terms of our scientific understanding of our ultimate origin? Like the Creationists, the supporters of this theory leave us with God-like beings who themselves have no origin.

So on the one hand we have the Darwinian evolutionary theory that states that life arose on this planet via a natural process of mutation and selection. On the other hand, we have the idea that super-intelligent beings created us inside of a computer. Let us look at Darwinian evolution first. With mutation and selection — the hallmarks of biological evolution — we understand that the process requires some sort of replicating object upon which to work. Therefore, before we can have a theory of biological evolution, we need first to have a theory explaining how replicators came into being. The idea is, about two billion years ago a primitive soup of organic matter formed on Earth. From this soup, a RNA-like molecule arose which was able to replicate and compete with copies of itself for the supply of molecules/nucleotides in the environment. The better replicators became more numerous and eventually evolved primitive protein shells to protect themselves and, in addition, evolved the ability to break molecular bonds to supply energy for their continued replication. But how did this primordial ‘soup’ start here on Earth? For this we depend on another theory. The Miller’s gas experiment demonstrated in 1952 that an early Earth atmosphere of methane, ammonia, hydrogen, water and electric discharges, was sufficient to produce simple amino acids. Amino acids we understand are the building blocks of proteins. Further reactions with water and formaldehyde — a byproduct of the experiment — could produce the simple sugar ribose. We understand ribose is a component of RNA, the precursor to DNA. So what the Miller’s gas experiment ultimately demonstrated is that from simple molecules that existed on the primitive Earth, more complex compounds could be formed which themselves were the building blocks of life.

To sum up, for life to have to evolved here on Earth, we need to have a theory of (a) how organic matter (ie., the ‘soup’) was formed on Earth, (b) we need to conjecture the birth of a replicator molecule, and (c) finally we need to assume that Darwinian evolution shaped that replicating molecule with two billion years of mutation and selection.

Now if we have two competing theories, both with the ability to explain how the world came into existence, Occam’s razor implies that the simpler of the two theories is more likely to be correct. For the simulation theory, we have the idea that humans are non-real entities living inside of a computer. As the theory does not offer any explanation for how the computers themselves were built or how the simulation was made, let us for the moment assume that these higher beings themselves were products of Darwinian evolution. Let’s also assume evolution and the birth of a spontaneous replicating molecule was, say — for the sake of argument — a one in a septillion chance event. Finally let’s assign to the probability of ‘higher beings’ constructing a ‘life simulation’ a one in a billion chance event — again for the sake of argument. With these arbitrarily assigned odds then, Darwinian evolution producing real humans on Earth is simply one in a septillion chance event, while higher beings programming a computer and producing simulated humans is a one in a billion septillion chance event. Why? Because we need to multiply probabilities of the two events happening together — evolution of the ‘higher beings’ and their invention of the simulation. Obviously from this it follows that the theory of Darwinian evolution on Earth has lower odds and therefore a higher chance of having happened compared to the simulation theory — that is, given our random assignment of probabilities.

To clarify my position, let us examine the plausibility of yet another life-origin theory — the hypothesis that life has been seeded to the Earth from Mars. Among some scientists, the idea that life was seeded here from another planet (perhaps even outside our solar system) has gained in popularity recently. Right off the bat we can see how such a theory suffers from the same flaw involving the multiplication of probabilities. If life originated on Mars and then came to Earth, then we have three separate probabilities to multiply — there is (a) the probability of life arising on Mars, then (b) the probability of a volcanic eruption, meteorite collision or some other seismic event that catapulted material containing said life through the void of space (c) and finally the probability it was deposited here on Earth and took root. For the moment let us assume that life on Mars once flourished — let us assume Mars was once a wet planet and not devoid of flowing water as we observe today. Let us assume that a piece of rock hurtling through space with primitive life (maybe bacteria-like) survived a few months or years journey to the Earth — even in the absence of oxygen, nutrients and atmospheric pressure. From a common sense perspective, if you were to consider dropping a seed from a tropical plant, say from the Amazon, into a vast desert such as the African Sahara, what do you think is the likelihood of that seed taking root without cultivation? If the plant prefers humid, rich soil and has not the genetic basis for surviving in arid, sandy soil, is it likely to thrive? If we think again now about Miller’s gas experiment simulating the Earth’s early atmosphere, we know that the Earth likely produced simple amino acids using available methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water in the environment. However, before those amino acids could form more complex proteins by combining, the oceans’ tidal pools would have needed to be filled with these molecules in order to increase the probability of contact (basically chemical bonds are formed between molecules by proximity and a source of energy. ) Likewise with our primitive RNA (the replicating sugar-phosphate chains), once these molecules first came into existence, in order for them to continue replicating, they would have needed a constant supply of nucleotides in the primordial soup. Indeed as the primitive sugar-phosphate chain itself consisted of the very same nucleotides it used to replicate — adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine — it is clear that it was more likely to have come into existence in a pool of liquid containing many trillions of these nucleotides. To clarify: in order that the accidental composition of just-the-right-kind of sugar phosphate chain was to be made, many trillions upon trillions of contacts between molecules were demanded. The more juxtapositions that occurred between the basic building blocks of this primitive RNA, the more likely it was to be synthesized by accidental combination. In short, the more molecules that existed in this primordial ’soup’, the more collisions and chemical bonds that could be formed by chance.

So, according to our Martian Seeded Life theory, let us imagine now our fertile Mars and its sterile neighbor the Earth some two billion years ago. Imagine the Earth’s empty oceans devoid of nucleotides and devoid of any amino acids. Then imagine suddenly, a meteoroid from Mars plunging into the Earth’s ocean and releasing a few replicating molecules into the sterile depths. What then happens to the replicators? If there are no nucleotides present for them to consume, the replicators soon yield to entropy and disintegrate. If the replicators have their own supply of nucleotides that have somehow hitch-hiked a ride on the meteorite, they start replicating and eventually exhaust their limited supply. They too, are left subject to entropy and the hostile forces of the primitive Earth. In short, much like the tropical plant that will not take seed in a desert environment, no matter how complex this alleged life or molecule from Mars was, it would have been a virtual impossibility for it to take root on a sterile planet. Even if we assumed living bacteria containing chlorophyll arrived from Mars — and could produce its own energy by the Sun — we run into the same class of problems. Though the bacteria may have had the ability to synthesize sugar with sunlight, it still would have required carbon-dioxide and water. Could the early Earth have had carbon-dioxide in its early environment? Yes, of course, with volcanic activity it was plausible. But bear in mind that plants with chlorophyll that produce their own sugar with sunlight also respire and use oxygen to burn the sugar molecule for energy. Was there oxygen in the early Earth’s atmosphere? Yes, perhaps. That is plausible too.

But now we come to see the fallacy in this line of thinking. If we assume the early Earth had carbon dioxide and oxygen and you allow for this in a theory whereby Mars seeded chlorophyll-containing bacteria to our planet, is it not then far simpler to assume chlorophyll bacteria emerged first on Earth? Likewise, if you assume that a sugar-phosphate replicator molecule arrived here from Mars and found the oceans already teeming with nucleotides ready to support unlimited replication, does that not violate Occam’s Razor when you have to multiply probabilities and assume an evolution of nucleotides on Mars (to birth the replicator molecule) and then a separate evolution on Earth (to support the replicators once they arrived)?

For further illustration, let us consider for a moment the Hollywood blockbuster movie ‘The Matrix’ as if its plot described an origin-of-life theory. In that film, the humans beings are grown in large pod farms and wired to a computer program which keeps their brains happy and bodies imprisoned ( to produce electricity for the evil robots). Thus, the Matrix theory would go somewhat as follows: human beings built the AI robots, then the AI robots enslaved humans in the ‘matrix’, and therefore human experience is now not real, but rather just a simulation. So just like our original computer simulation theory, the Matrix theory would fail in ultimately explaining our existence because it doesn’t discuss how human beings arrived here in the first place. It is incomplete. Also the Matrix theory is overly complex in so far as it needs to assume the existence of AI robots. A simpler, more probable theory, for example, would be: humans created the matrix and enslaved humanity — no cruel AI robots, hence greater likelihood. Simpler is better because it’s more probable. Now if indeed we had evidence of an individual who had escaped the matrix computer program and provided hard evidence of cruel AI robots growing human beings in pods — then the Matrix theory would have greater explanatory power because it would describe the two realities — one inside the matrix, and one outside (ie., with AI robots). In the case of our previous two theories however — the simulation theory and the Mars-life-seeded-to-Earth theory — they are both unnecessarily complex and shed no light on any additional facts of our existence. As I said before, the simulation theory owes its inspiration to an outdated scientific concept that conscious observers create reality. If we could prove that the world is indeed created dynamically by conscious observers, then the simulation theory gains merit in that it might explain why reality is rendered ‘on demand’ (perhaps to save memory and processing power much like our own computers.) In this case, extra complexity in the theory then yields greater explanatory power. But with the Mars-seeded-life-to-Earth hypothesis, there are no additional facts that the theory explains. We acknowledge that in the past there have been meteorites found in the Arctic circle that were believed to have a Martian origin. One such sample was even claimed to contain fossilized microbes. If we could prove that these meteorites contained fossilized life, then, indeed, we would be forced to consider a salient contradiction — that is, how likely is it that life could have evolved on both planets simultaneously? In just such an instance, a Martian theory might be more compelling because it would detail a far simpler scenario — namely that life arose only on one planet, not both at same time.

But alas, the Martian meteorites turned out to not have ancient fossilized microbes, but merely contained mineral deposits affecting a colorization resembling ancient microbes.

And so now I’d like to speak to the heart of this essay.

It seems to me a bit shocking when anyone trained in the sciences makes claims such as these and publishes scholarly articles that (a) have little explanatory power and (b) clearly violate Occam’s Razor. When scientific ideas so fly in the face of common sense and rational thinking, the psychologist in me is at once set a task — I ask myself, is there a psychological reason for the genesis of these ideas?

Let us look what these two disparate theories have in common from a psychological perspective. In their gist, both theories circumvent the idea of Darwinian evolution completely. As regards the Martian theory, there is still no hard evidence that life may have once existed on Mars. With the NASA probes, and the rovers sent to the red planet the past two decades, it is not clear that the primary objective of the Mars missions has always been the search for life outside of the Earth? Getting to the moon, in sharp contrast, was merely a contest for the Americans to beat the Russians during the cold war. So I ask you — how long have NASA scientists hoped and dreamed of finding life on Mars? In short, what is it that sustains these hopes and scientific curiosity? Is it not the simple wish to find that we are not alone in this universe?

So now perhaps we have found a clue to the idea that bridges these two theories. In the simulation theory, the appealing idea to the human psyche is that there are supreme beings who have created and watch over us. These beings we assume are our superiors in intellect and god-like. (They created us in their simulation after all!) And thus, by this theory, we conclude again that we are not alone in the universe. So it would seem that both theories are searching, at least unconsciously, for this very proof. In short, neither theory seems to be a hard, rational attempt to understand our ultimate origin, but instead seems to be looking for God, much like the plot in the late Carl Sagan’s novel Contact. In that book, a scientist receives an cryptic message from the stars that tells humanity how to build an interstellar vehicle. Once built, the scientist uses it to traverse a wormhole to meet aliens many light years away. Curiously, when they meet, the extraterrestrial being takes the form of the traveller’s father — a fact not insignificant if we are to understand its unconscious meaning. (But at least Carl Sagan knew better to place this idea in a work of fiction and not in a scientific theory.)

The idea that we are not alone in the universe is not the only commonality that runs through these two theories. Essentially, the theories too are tainted with mysticism or ‘magical’ thinking. (I ask that the physicists who are reading now to tolerate a short foray into psychology.) Magical thinking, according to Freud, arises because of narcissism — one’s own attachment to Ego, or love of oneself. Freud explained it this way — when the fetus is in the uterus, its primitive ego/mind assumes it is the whole mother’s body or uterus. The fetus does not know where its own body ends and the mother’s begins. Only with experience and movement and the exercise of the Will does the human Ego begin to differentiate where the self ends and the outside world begins. In essence, we are born with a ‘hole’ in our psyche. For many people this ‘hole’ never completely heals and they tend to confuse the inside world of their mental activity with the outside world — psychologists call this activity ‘projection’. In short, our belief in God results from the projection of our unconscious mind into the world. This projection brings us comfort, and forges the invisible entity, or God, that watches over us. So too this projection is what populates the world with ghosts; it is a force that creates, for example, our belief in telepathy and telekinesis. In short, projection is responsible for ‘animism’, the belief that inanimate objects (ie. rocks, trees) are inhabited with spirits.

As regards the Mars-seeded-life-to-Earth theory, the object that is the most imbued with magical thinking is the concept of life itself. In short, many people believe that any thing which is living contains ‘supernatural’ properties or represents a thing that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. When considering higher animals like ourselves, many people believe in a spirit or soul that inhabits the body — they do not fully accept that the mind is brain. And as regards living creatures in general, many people would not accept that they are biological machines, evolved from carbon-based matter and risen from the primordial ‘soup’. If one were to look through a microscope and examine a single-celled paramecium moving gracefully with beating cilia, most persons would swear that the organism has some quality, some property that goes beyond what a complex machine could be. In short, even for the humble paramecium, they would ascribe to it a quality of being ‘alive’. But what does it mean to be alive? What is that essence? At what point in their evolution from the ‘organic soup’ would our primitive sugar-phosphate replicators have attained the quality of being alive?

So now perhaps we can understand why it is that a scientist might feel that a theory of Mars-seeded-life-to-Earth is plausible. It is because once life was achieved on Mars, there is the faith that this life contained a spirit, a force, which, regardless of circumstance, would prevail. In Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, Dr. Ian Malcom proclaims, “life will find a way”. Because ‘life’ is imbued with this magical essence, there is a feeling that this living matter will find a way to survive even in the most barren and impossible of conditions. We have seen life at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. We have seen life that survives without oxygen. We have observed life can live in glacial ice. These observations are for some people proof that life is not only resilient, but unstoppable. Hence they are led to the ridiculous belief that a mere meteorite falling to the barren Earth and containing a few bacteria-like organisms — in the absence of air, in the absence of soil, in the absence of its entire co-evolved climate — would be sufficient for life to take root. For them, Life is magic.

So too the simulation theory is guilty of this same subjectivity. It taints the idea of consciousness with magical properties. What is consciousness? Does it represent the activity of the brain, or the soul? Why is it that some very respectable scientists believe that it is required to create reality? Consciousness, we understand, holds all of our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. We are strongly led to equate this consciousness with our intelligence, our humanity and our soul. But what is a soul? Is it something that is produced by our brain, or is it a separate entity that will detach itself after our body’s death? To be clear, if we are to subscribe to science and not faith, we have to reject this dualism and understand that mind is brain. Spirit is brain. The ‘soul’ emanates from the brain. Once the body has perished, there is no evidence that anything survives beyond it. But why do we believe so strongly in an essence that transcends our brain and bodies? I believe it is simply due to our own narcissism. Our consciousness, we intimately feel, is our very being. Our stubborn, blind egos cannot accept the idea that the selfwill one day stop. When loved ones die, we project our sadness and our memories to the external world and thusly we populate it with their ghosts. The ‘spirits’ that we feel in the outside world, are merely our brain’s unconscious activity. But a clearer, more precise scientific explanation of consciousness is this: it is, fundamentally, the evolved self-awareness of our own internal state. Why is it that we should have evolved this ability to know our own internal state — our thoughts and feelings? In terms of our evolution as social animals, there is a simple answer. By having the ability to introspect and understand our own motivation, it allows us as human beings to model and understand what other human beings may be thinking — an important trait for duplicitous, highly social creatures. In short, it allows us to predict how persons with whom we interact will behave in the future. So to put it bluntly, there is nothing magical about consciousness — we have to understand that it is merely an evolved mechanism which allows us to introspect our own nature and thus construct a model by which to understand others.

So now we can perhaps better understand why it is that some physicists have subscribed to this idea that the special quality of ‘consciousness’ is required in order to ‘create reality’. It is the narcissistic belief that our mind is all-powerful and eternal. It is the be-all and end-all of life. It is solipsism — the idea that “I think therefore I am”. It is the idea that perhaps everyone out there is not real, and I, myself, and my mind are the only real and knowable things. It is an emphasis on the subjective and a rejection of objective reality. Ultimately, for these scientists, it is the idea: I, with my own mind, create my own reality.

Now of course this sounds like a heavy condemnation of these theorists. But I’m not suggesting that these scientists would run around screaming that they are the only real persons in the universe. Obviously, everyone has a pragmatic, sensible side to them. It is perhaps a leftover from our childhood that this animistic side of ourselves persists into adulthood — albeit unconsciously. Unfortunately some of this animism and mysticism seeps into our science — and our everyday thinking. A deep part of ourselves wants to believe that our own self is the most important thing in the universe — it is but a product of our own narcissism and bolstered by our instinct to survive. So it is that when one happens upon evidence that suggests everything is created by our consciousness, or created by merely looking — we connect with this idea because it speaks to our Ego. We long for love, human acceptance, and God. And when evidence from QM theory suggests that we can be the Gods, that we are the creators of own reality, it takes a huge effort of will to reject this feeling.

So, in the end, there is nothing magical about “consciousness”. It is just a highly adaptive trait evolved by an extremely social animal. Likewise, there is nothing miraculous about “life”, it is just a thing of incalculable organic complexity — a biological machine with rules that mostly bewilder our comprehension.

The real miracle of life was just this — the birth of the replicator molecule. It was probably an event of extremely high improbability — perhaps a 1 in a trillion septillion event on this planet. It you want to believe in miracles, that is probably the closest thing to a miracle that has ever occurred.

The replicating molecule and Darwinian evolution. That is a theory to put your faith in.

Hi, I’m Jeff

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