The Meaning of Life, Part
The Meaning of Life, Part II
Maybe I have a one-track mind, but whenever I try to think of the true purpose of life, I think of sex.
Perhaps sex is not the best word. It often has negative connotations.
Let's imagine the universe existing before life, before any coacervates or viruses or any other sub-life forms that reproduced. Everything merely existed. There was no consciousness.
Suddenly, a pattern emerged. By the act of some random event - lightning causing a crucial reaction between molecules, a replicating molecule was created. Scientific definitions aside, I believe that this first act of reproduction is the keystone of life. And bear in mind, I'm no biologist. I'm just taking what I have learned to come to a reasonable conclusion.
So suddenly there is reproduction - perhaps some RNA molecule is formed, and it makes other RNA molecules, which in turn make other RNA molecules ad infinitum. Then Darwin's (or Wallace's) theory of natural selection becomes important. As minute variations occur in these hypothetical RNA molecules, certain molecules may be better at reproducing than others, and those that are better will become more abundant than others.
Skipping ahead a billion years . . .
Life is much more complex. Most life forms now life in self-contained cells, with cell membranes dividing organism from environment. These cell structures came about because organisms that had them, or primitive components of them, were better able to reproduce.
Skipping ahead many more eons . . .
There is a cornucopia of life on Earth. Many organisms are highly evolved, with many senses, rather than the primitive taxis of other organisms. And leading all of these are nature's most amazing creatures ever. Humans. Creatures with sentience, that are aware of their own existence. I'm being
facetious of course. I don't think that I (as a human) am the pinnacle of existence. Senses and sentience came about because it made the
organisms better able to reproduce.
So that's my brief history of life on Earth. But what does it mean?
Life is an emergent pattern that came out of random events. All things simply existed, but from that single act of reproducible replication, an entire new set of rules came into being. Suddenly, something was different. Reproduction was valued. Organisms evolved to have complex structures - such as sight, and even consciousness - because these structures made them better at reproducing.
Perhaps the first life was created by an act of some higher power, or maybe it was completely random (or both). Looking at life from this perspective makes me question my values about life, and sex. Is every human action subconsciously driven by sex? Do we exist merely to have sex? Many people (I've asked) have an aversion to this question. But we would not even be here to ask the question if sex an integral part of our existence. I question if anything is more important to our existence than sex. As a species, we generally have a high value of life. Perhaps our reason for having this value is not because of any higher morality or ethic, but because it promotes life.
However, some people question whether or not every component of ourselves came about because of natural selection. Language, for example, they say is a
bi-product of other processes. As the primitive brain evolved, it became better at stringing actions together. For example, think of a human throwing a baseball - the brain is controlling and synchronizing dozens of muscles at the same time. Primates, on the other hand, lack this 'stringing' ability. When a gorilla crushes something with a rock, they use a choppy, straight-down motion that uses only one muscle group, rather than humans, who would more efficiently have an arcing path. Gorillas communicate using roughly 3 dozen different sounds, with each sound having a different and singular meaning. Humans can also vocalize about 3
dozen different sounds, but we string them together to form words and sentences.
[all the information in this paragraph came from a Scientific American article]
Yet, I must question my own thoughts. Can anything I ever do transcend the innate sexual force of life? Ralph Ellison wrote "I am nobody but myself" implying the primary obligation to one's self.
Will my existence always color my perception?