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September 30, 1998
From: Ross Olson
TO: opinion{at}startribune.com
Subject: Evolution

"Jim Dawson writes about science for the Star Tribune" it says in the by-line of the article "Computer game 'Evolution' illustrates that intelligent life just happens." (Star Tribune 9/30/98) But in this case, Jim is not writing about science but religious naturalism.

Not only is no evidence of evolution given (unless you accept that the ability to program a computer to "evolve life" constitutes evidence), but as if to prove the absence of an argument, the opponents of evolution are attacked ad hominem as primitive. The title of the article, which implies that complexity arises from chaos and information is added by random means, ought instead to read, "Computer game illustrates that if evolution is true, you as an individual are a cosmic accident and your whole species is a fluke."

Indeed, I heard Stephen Jay Gould give that lecture a number of years ago at the University of Minnesota and essentially knock the props out from under any semblance of human dignity or hope. People applauded and walked out even though he had told them they and the whole human race were meaningless and random.

The effect of this depressing concept is to reduce life to survival and reproduction. In an attempt at generating hope, the authors of the game write, "Go forth, multiply, evolve." So, the highest good becomes my own survival and the survival of my genes. In this scenario, producing progeny is the highest good. A timely corollary is that as dominant male, President Clinton ought to behave somewhat as he does, except that he is doing it wrong and fails to leave as many descendants as his "very intelligent" genes deserve.

Ross Olson MD