We can all agree, without fearing a disagreement of sorts, that the oldest question ever proposed by a human being is : what is the purpose of life? At this point, it might even seem cliché to even formulate it, but it is poignant to do so, for the purpose of this review.Life is ephemeral… well, many religious and spiritual deviants may disagree with that argument, for they give to much relevance to the word “why”. But what really begs the question, through a scientific and rational point of view, is indeed “how”. How are we here? What is the fundamental thing that needs to happen in order for us to be here at this exact moment, breathing while reading this.
According to Richard Dawkins – evolutionary biologist and author of The Selfish Gene – only genes have a purpose. When it comes down to survival, they really are the main deceivers, and even though they don’t own a conscience they pretty much dominate the path life takes, ever since the first cell was able to be formed (We still don’t know how, but there are some great probable hypothesis). But why is it all of ephemeral, and genes aren’t?
The answer is very complex indeed, and it involves those same genes we talk about. It always does and because “DNA works in mysterious ways”, we cannot predict what the molecule of life is going to do next. But one thing science is certain of is that genes work only to their own personal benefit per se. When a living being reproduces, he is assuring that is genetic code is successfully transferred to the next being. This process goes on for millions of years, spanning thousands of generations.
Richard Dawkins poses this question: are genes selfish? We can most certainly assume they are, because if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have read the book, and Dawkins wouldn’t have written it. Genes work for their own good, because they have to make sure they replicate, making sure that natural selection acts upon them, and evolution as a process becomes a reality.
Life is ephemeral, but genes aren’t. They have a purpose, perhaps the only thing in the entire universe who has it. But the first person to make life not seem like a miracle was Mr. Charles Darwin. As a result of his work, he was able to tone down the need to question the meaning of life. Until the 19th century, it was thought that God was the entity responsible for all things, living or dead. But, after years of hard work and detailed observation, he came to the conclusion that life went through some metamorphosis.
Today, we still hear some ignorant people denying the darwinian school of thought, some blinded by unadulterated faith, others just too dumb to understand it properly. But it doesn’t really matter if you believe in it or don’t because we cannot control the outcome of the universe. In other words, it doesn’t really matter what your opinion is about it: he’s not a teenager, you know. He’s 13 billion years old.
The selfish gene is, by all means, a wonderful and brilliant book. Without ever disrespecting the works of Darwin, Dawkins successfully reformulates his main ideas, pointing towards the genes as the main characters in evolution.