Life, the Universe, and Pasta Salad

I like the following question and answer because it reminds me of one of human nature’s most pernicious observational failings:

My mother used to make this dish with dinner. It consisted of spiral noodles, artichoke hearts, olives, and peas, plus enough olive oil to coat everything. After everything was stirred up, every single olive would have one or two peas in the hole. The peas barely fit and were hard to get out, why do the peas end up inside the olives?!?

The answer and more.

That crazy things such as peas sticking in olives happen so regularly should not be so remarkable in light of the magnitude of unremarkable events in the world that go unnoticed (peas bumping into pasta). Given enough time even subtle selections processes (peas enter olives more easily than they leave) can yield dramatic results.

Shift all the parameters to their most extreme and consider the most dramatic of issues: human existance. Some may argue that human existance is a marvel and point to the emptiness of the heavens as evidence. Others will be dumfounded by those details that are as yet inexplicable. They might even argue that only intelligent design could produce such results. I say that does not give enough credit to time, space, magnitude, and the dumb little bumping around that things do everyday. Though peas finding their way into olives is orders of magnitude more likely than the creation of life, do peas and olives beget more peas and olives? If so, we would be overrun! Self-replication may be difficult to acheive, but once it has been, it is strongly favored. It is safe to say we all understand the relationships between peas and olives a whole lot better than the process by which inanimate becomes animate; but who among us would have expected the pea-olive result before the mixing began? So is this “miracle” a product of intelligent design? Of course not! So why does anything have to be?

It’s ok, though. Even if life is just blobs bumping into blobs, what does it really matter? Who needs higher powers and divine purpose when you’ve got a mom that loves you and makes you tasty pasta salad?

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