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Pete_Carlton comments on An Alien God - Less Wrong

80 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 November 2007 06:57AM

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Comment author: Pete_Carlton 03 November 2007 05:53:09AM 1 point [-]

Most of the essay is thoughtful and interesting as usual - good points about laypeople uttering "evolution" with the same semantic force with which others utter "god". But why bring up that god stuff at the end? Doesn't it just create confusion to stretch metaphors this way? You have only to look at how religionists have seized on Einstein's and Hawking's metaphorical use of the word "god" to suit their purposes.

Evolution isn't "god", it's just what happens when you have competition between replicators. Trying to use "theology" and "god" and "Judeo-Christian deity" (whatever that means - I don't think Judaism calls it a "trinity", for example) when talking about evolution only makes things murky.

douglas -- it's "Johnjoe", not "Joejohn", and as a molecular biologist myself I will say I do not in the least consider it an oversight on my part never to have read his book. The idea of DNA being in quantum superposition is hard enough to swallow - then you realize that for it to work the way he wants it to (to have a differential effect on survival), the entire cell needs to be in superposition since it isn't just the DNA itself, but the mRNA that gets transcribed, and the proteins that get translated, that determine the cell's response to the environment. So every relevant molecule in the cell is in one giant superposition?? This idea is an extremely bizarre, profligate wasteful hunch, but worse, it fills no conceptual gaps. Whether there are any out-of-the-ordinary phenomena going on in bacterial adaptation is itself controversial and not agreed on. If there is ever any consensus that there is a phenomenon that needs explanation, may some scientists have the humility to test something more mundane before trotting out the word "quantum" along with the idea that we have to rethink almost everything.