Often while looking at random flora and fauna (including humans), I marvel at evolution’s work. To think that all these intricate living systems have evolved without conscious design. The more I learn about biology, the more amazing it seems!
But then, I have to remember that I am an evolved creature myself, and my species has not evolved to be able to easily grasp the levels of complexity involved with the evolution of biological lifeforms (long time scales, interactions of complex systems, etc).
The primeval savanna where selection pressure formed my brain had no need for this; it’s just a lucky side-effect that I’m now able to think about it at all, and in the grand scheme of things, my understanding is superficial and forced. I can’t simply hold all the elements in my head and run simulations in the way that I can effortlessly know where a falling baseball is going to hit the ground. To my limited mind, on some level, it all seems almost impossibly complex, even if I know more abstractly how it happened. It’s like trying to visualize large numbers. You know what a trillion is in the abstract, but you don’t really grasp it.
But that fact says as much about me, about us, as about the phenomenon itself. A higher intelligence (an AI that could hold a whole planet’s worth of quarks in its mind, for example) might not find life (or other complex phenomena) so special. Its reaction might be more like “duh”.