Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Purpose of Life

Since that first (likely RNA) molecule managed the astounding feat of self-replication, every bit of life on earth has had the same overriding long-term goal: survive long enough to reproduce.

In the long run, nothing else matters.

If you don't reproduce, your genes, your pattern, your contributions to the future are all dead, gone, irrelevant, extinct.

Remember Eve, that lone woman from 140,000 BC who's mitochondrial DNA is in every living human? She reproduced successfully, and no other human female from that time did.

Scientists have similarly traced the ancestry of the Y chromosome such that statistically all living human males are descendants of at most a dozen or so men from perhaps 50,000 years ago, or possibly a Y-chromosomal Adam from about 60,000 years ago.

Note that there were many human females--Eve was not alone. She simply is the only one with living descendants. And it was likely not her mitochondrial DNA that conferred some advantage over the others, but rather some gene she carried that protected her against some disease, or allowed her to coexist with some parasite, or perhaps simply made her want to have (or capable of having) more children.

Statistically, your genes must reproduce at least as well as average, and probably better than average, in order for them to stick around for the long term. Note that a continuing 1% reproductive advantage is enough to dominate the overall population in about 70 generations (assuming an unlikely  uniform distribution), and to overwhelm 90% of competitive genes in approximately 230 generations (a little over 5,000 years).

Have you noticed that all religions that have remained successful over the long term support the concept of "go forth and multiply?" And that those religions that frown on sex, especially those that promote abstention, rapidly go the way of the dinosaurs?

So, to be a part of humanity's future, you must reproduce.

If you think your genes would improve the human race, you must reproduce. If you are more intelligent than average, you must reproduce. If you are healthier than average, you must reproduce. If your family tends to live long and active lives, you must reproduce. If you are an optimist and believe in the future, please reproduce. If you have less susceptibility to cancer, or heart disease, or Alzheimer's, or any of a myriad other maladies that we succumb to, please reproduce. We need all the good genes we can carry.

Note that this is NOT a call for only "perfect" humans to reproduce. Rather, we need a highly diverse gene pool to improve our ability to survive future threats. And perhaps you have a below average IQ, a family history of heart disease, and you tend to be overweight. But you love children and your family, and are driven to work hard to make the world a better place for our descendants. Please reproduce!

If you think that your genes would make a below average contribution to the future of the human race, then at least seek out a spouse with superior characteristics. It's the combination that counts. We need more good genes, not just the few best genes.

The bottom line: consider your genetic contribution to the future of humanity, and if the balance is positive, you must reproduce. It's your duty to the future.


dwilli58 said...

"...every bit of life on earth has had the same overriding long-term goal: survive long enough to reproduce. In the long run, nothing else matters."

Wow! That's really awe inspiring. That would probably explain the lack of respect for human life that is evident on the news every evening, "the survival of the fittest."

Is there a sign-up sheet to join this religion or can you just come as you are?

Marin said...

I think i'm slightly better than average on looks and intelligence however reproduction is not an option for me. my genes go with me 6 feet under hahaha. let other genes play the game of "survive and procreate"

Artuso Birds said...
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I Can't Believe It said...

What an incredibly irresponsible hymn to reproduction this blog entry is, given that we just achieved 7 billion people. Everyone already feels entitled to soil our nest with the sprawling, consuming, breeding millions. Such a go-forth-and-multiply statement at a time such as this is tantamount to infanticide. You condemn future generations to famine and war. Do you have no conception of history and arithmetic?

Stephen D. Covey said...

Yes, this is a call to reproduce, targeted to everyone who's DNA might make a positive impact on the future of humanity. This includes (in my opinion) healthy, intelligent, and optimistic people. The kind of people whose descendants can find solutions to the world's problems and limitations - and not just those depending upon the "traditional" population control measures of famine, starvation, disease, and war.

Ms. "I Can't Believe It", you might reconsider your last statement, since history and arithmetic are the foundations of my post: those who reproduce the most effectively will own the future, overwhelming those who don't. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that even small improvements in reproductive success dominate in the long run. Ask your Neanderthal neighbors.

My key point is simply that if WE don't reproduce faster then THEM, we will soon be extinct (whoever WE and THEM are). Your decision is simply whether you wish to be part of the WE or part of the THEM. If YOU choose to not have children, thus saving the world's resources for future generations, that's great. But recognize that YOUR children won't be a part of that future; your genes won't survive. I'm okay with that.