Every thinking person knows that the egg came first because a chicken is merely a two-legged, feather-covered, electro-chemical factory that the first egg designed to produce another egg. But wait a minute, there’s something about that slick answer that we have overlooked. Anyone who was involved with raising chickens as I have been is aware that an egg has to be fertilized before it can hatch into a chicken. Farmers are reluctant to believe that the first chicken produced was the consequence of immaculate conception. Where was the rooster when all this was going on? Was there one? An acceptable and logical answer to that chicken and egg conundrum is still unavailable.
Now the astrophysicists on NOVA are suggesting that before the famous Big Bang occurred that supposedly launched our universe, there was only empty space until something material the size of a small pearl came out of nowhere and exploded. The residue from the explosion expanded so rapidly that after 13 billion years of Earth time, we have the magnificent universe as we humans perceive it today. Where did the little pearl come from? An oyster or – your guess is as good as mine.
There are many things we humans observe happening that we can’t explain. They are counterintuitive to our human way of thinking. For example, over elapsed time we observe external events following one another. As a consequence, we come to believe that there must be a cause for every effect and not merely an unconnected coincidence. We can’t accept the “unrealistic” notion that something can be made out of nothing or that something comes from nothing. It doesn’t seem possible to us, but perhaps it is.
There are other paradoxes and conundrums that cause us trouble. Which came first, the intelligent thinker or the intelligence behind his or her thought? These challenges to the rational mind defy our analytical abilities. An intelligent thinker can “come up with” original ideas, can process complicated word and mathematical concepts, and can hypothesize logical conclusions from causal assumptions. However, can this intelligent person do any of that without possessing some natural reasoning ability or some mental capability which adds up to what we would call “being intelligent?”
The mental apparatus that humans use when they are thinking is a sophisticated combination of electrical, chemical, and who knows what other physical components that can produce a physical action or a verbal response. Human reactions demonstrate that some thought process has been followed. Was that thought process an original one or a borrowed one? If it is an original one, then the intelligent thinker precedes “intelligence.” On the other hand, if the thinker is really borrowing someone else’s “intelligent idea,” then the intelligence came first.
Watching a robotic machine perform a series of complicated mechanical steps in producing something would lead an observer to believe that some kind of thinking was going on somewhere. And it is, but not in the robot’s mind. The CPU or the data processing unit governing the machine’s performance uses borrowed “inputs” from the machine inventors to interface with measurements provided by specially designed sensors and with analytical criteria that has been stored in the memory bank of the CPU. No original “thinking” has actually been done by the machine’s CPU, although some important correlations have been made, some analysis has taken place, and some options to proceed or not have been scrutinized by the CPU in order to complete the job.
Observing this process, a person can’t help but suspect that intelligence came first to the inventor of the process and then to the designer of the machine to do the work. From the preceding example it is obvious that there are at least three simple inputs of diverse “intelligence” to any performing entity, human or robot: 1.) intelligence from outside of the data processor, 2.) data received by the senses or the sensors connected to the CPU, and 3.) pertinent criteria already accumulated from experience and deliberately stored for reference.
In the human case the external intelligence can come from DNA input, from the external stimulants garnered by the nervous system, or from some silent unknown means of spontaneous, remote communication which we might attribute to intuition or to creative ingenuity. All original ideas seem to come to our consciousness “out of nowhere.” We can’t trace the source exactly. These ideas all of a sudden relate to whatever has been experienced or passed along to us by our parents, our teachers, our peers, and our co-workers.
It really doesn’t matter which came first, the intelligent thinker or the intelligence, except that the process of latching on to more intelligence ought to be better understood and refined, if possible. This requires those of us who are interested to spend more time in analyzing how “break through” achievements are accomplished.
Thinking “outside the box,” examining counterintuitive ideas, and associating seemingly unrelated concepts are the most obvious ways progress is made. Most of the counterintuitive ideas that are understood and accepted today required us to examine carefully and ponder our observations of what was actually happening. Once the facts were established and assorted intelligently, erroneous, preconceived ideas were tossed aside.
That our planet is a sphere and not the center of our solar system is still not obvious to the common man in the street or the savage in the jungle. But that “fact” is shared by humans today and recognized as a useful truth. Identifying a universal truth has always demanded humans to plod along until the “confirming data” was clear enough for someone of us to understand and explain what was observed. Certainly, the intelligence that controls the universe preceded the thinking human. However, we Homo sapiens become perplexed when we use our cause and effect logic which suggests that intelligent ideas and complex concepts must initially have been conjured up by some intelligent mind located somewhere. Which brings us back to the illusive, absent rooster.
What role does the intelligent rooster play in all this? Who educated him about his role in procreation? How does that chicken and egg analogy fit the intelligent thinker conundrum? Or does it?
Think about it seriously, then think some more. I’ll let you know what I conclude when I peer outside the box the next time. Anyone who can explain to me how you can actually produce something from nothing should send his or her enlightening response to my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.