February 14, 2010

Maimonides, Monkeys, and Monet

Basic Teleology

There is a story, attributed to the 12th century Jewish teacher Moses Maimonides, in which he shows his students a beautiful landscape painting, and tells them that the painting was the result of someone bumping a table, and accidentally spilling paint on a blank canvas. As the students laugh at this preposterous claim, the teacher asks, “Then how can you believe that the complete cosmos, in which everything is held in perfect balance, appeared by chance?”