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A 240-Year-Old Automaton: The Idea of Man Under Materialism

David Klinghoffer

Whoa, this is both impressive and creepy — a 240-year-old automaton devised by Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790). It’s a mechanical boy who can be programmed to write any combination of letters. The device suggests to me a way of appreciating the spooky idea of man under materialism: a robot, without free will or genuine moral responsibility, under the command of “selfish genes.” See Michael Egnor on that, here and here.
Darwinism in a nutshell? Except that this “boy” was, of course, intelligently designed.