our number came up

“Now through the very universality of its structures, starting with the code, the biosphere looks like the product of a unique event,” Jacques Monod wrote in 1970. “The universe was not pregnant with life, nor the biosphere with man. Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game. Is it any wonder if, like a person who has just made a million at the casino, we feel a little strange and a little unreal?”

quoted in The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick, a nutrient-rich book I am working my way through.

On Monod:

During World War II, Monod was active in the French Resistance, eventually becoming the chief of staff of the French Forces of the Interior.Monod became a member of the French Communist Party after the end of the Second World War, but distanced himself from the party after the Lysenko Affair.

His quotations are intense:

  • “The first scientific postulate is the objectivity of nature: nature does not have any intention or goal.”[4]
  • “Anything found to be true of E. coli must also be true of elephants.”[25]
  • “The universe is not pregnant with life nor the biosphere with man. … Man at last knows that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose.”[26]

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