As a thought experiment, imagine entering a kitchen with a detailed cookbook and a dinner table with a variety of dishes prepared in accordance with the recipes in the book. How plausible is it to think that the cookbook, which is made of paper and ink, prepared all the dishes and served them on table, like a grand chef with intent, knowledge, and skill?
Let us suppose that when a certain dish like a pizza is to be prepared, the book opens by itself and the pages are shuffled until the page that contains the pizza recipe with all the detailed instructions is found. Then imagine that all the ingredients in exact amounts specified in the recipe move to the counter, and start mixing and turning themselves into a pizza by following the exact order specified in the cookbook. Imagine, finally, the prepared pizza helping itself into the oven at the temperature specified, staying in the oven for the specified time. The cooked pizza moves from the oven to the service table before our eyes.
At first, observers would think about an “invisible chef” being in the kitchen, perhaps one with a high-tech paint that renders objects invisible. The reason for this thought is obvious: Logically, only a conscious and intelligent being who can read the cookbook, understand the instructions, have the knowledge, skill and power can do what seemed to be done by an invisible hand. But the cookbook has none of those higher-level attributes.
After some contentious discussions, some of the spectators would probably subscribe to the idea that there is an invisible secret chef, like a ghost, in the kitchen even if one does not see or talk to him. Some among this group would also try to find ways to understand the nature of this invisible chef. Others would stick to what is visible and subscribe to the view that the cookbook did it. Then they would try to investigate the secrets of this mysterious cookbook, like how the book acquired those wondrous traits. Some would even suggest that the meaning acquired by the organization of the letters and words in the cookbook forms a ghost-like chef that does the cooking. By bestowing the attributes of the invisible chef to the visible cookbook, those in the second group actually admit the existence of the invisible chef, but they bury the mystery into the cookbook. And by doing so, they block thought.
Had we grown up with such “magic cookbooks” as described above, we would be accustomed to view the whole thing as something ordinary that just happens, and we would not give it second thought. We would just enjoy the readily made meals, like enjoying picking up the readily made banana fruits hanging on banana trees. After all, does anyone get amused that, if we kept a fertilized chicken egg at body temperature for 21 days, the white and yolk of the egg miraculously turn into a live chick? Probably not.
We would be content with the explanation that Mother Nature did it, and not even question who this elusive magic mother is and how she can be everywhere without being anywhere. But if someone put all the materials used in making an iPhone in a bag, together with the design blueprints and detailed production instructions, and tells us that, after one week, all that material mix in the bag will turn themselves into an iPhone by following the instructions, we would probably laugh and tell that person to go away. We would do the same if a person piles up all the material needed to build a house, together with an instructions book on a chip, and invite us to watch the self-erection of the house like magic in accordance with the instructions book. Because we haven’t seen any such thing.
It would not even amuse us if we made a change in the recipe book, like crossing out the mushrooms and writing extra cheese in their place, and saw that our changes were incorporated next time pizza was made. And we would feel so smart and powerful by our ability to make a pizza with any desired ingredients by simply manipulating the instructions in the recipe and making the new ingredients available in the kitchen. We would also be so proud of being able to make some changes in the text that could be read and understood by the cookbook and interpreted as its own. With the ability to manipulate the inscriptions to our liking, we would feel like little gods. Of course, we would still be curious as to how the cookbook decided what meals to fix for dinner the next time.