Purpose, Evolution, and Self-Replication

While natural selection is a very powerful mechanism in evolution, paying more attention to the nature of biological self-replication, we can see hints of the origin of purpose in life. New article up today from @Sy_Garte!

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What was before the origin of purpose?


Mere function, apparently.

Hmmm. How does purpose emerge from that?

Some kind of extension, I guess. (Caveat: not a biologist or natural scientist.) A “highly functional survival strategy”?

“Chemicals do not self-replicate” sounds kind of psychological to me. Rather dumb amateur that I am, I didn’t think chemicals had “selves”. :sweat_smile: Maybe just having a “self” that could “replicate” is where the “purpose emerges”?


Then I’m in good company Gregory. Decades since I did any chemistry, but isn’t there such a concept as autocatalysis?

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Glad to pull up a seat then. Yes, and I suppose there’s also ‘autopoesis’, though I’m unsure what function that concept has in the conversation about an “origin of purpose”.

It’s philosophically fascinating. If there is no transcendence, matter has eternally evolved consciousness that requires purpose. That’s what stuff does; its purpose.

Way over my head but fascinating. Makes you wonder how anyone ever peered into something so small as a cell to discover so much going on in this world unto itself. Those videos mentioned at the end of this excerpt are especially dumbfounding. I wonder how many people’s lifes work went into figuring out each of these details. That our bodies are able to keep this up for three score and ten and more years deserves appplause! People who nit pick this or that detail of life being too gory and so on are missing how miraculous it is that life has managed to fight the gradient of the 2nd law of thermodynamics to build up so much complexity.

DNA gets treated like a celebrity, but it is only the specifications manual. It only tells us what the proper cell should look like, the sequence of each of its proteins, its various RNA molecules, organelles, and intracellular components. It doesn’t actually make anything or do anything. It just sits there in the nucleus, much like a repair manual just sits on a desk and doesn’t actually fix the car.

Like a garage, cells need mechanics as well as instruction manuals to do the work of translating the information in the DNA from one form of chemistry (nucleotide chemistry) to another (amino acid chemistry). This translation process results in the production of specific enzymes, which in turn are the mechanics that make everything else. In other words, cells contain a process for making mechanics (enzymes), which then make the rest of the cell the way it is.

How do you make a cellular mechanic? We know how cells do it: in a remarkable process called translation. It involves an RNA that serves as a messenger from the DNA to the ribosome where the proteins are made, and several adapter molecules that act as the actual effectors of the genetic code by an elaborate and ingenious set of enzymatic reactions. You can learn more about the details from textbooks or by watching some good videos illustrating the process.

The article concludes:

As Christians, let us gaze at all the wonders of this created world with praise and worship of its Creator.

That seems fitting. Even for we godless it is impossible not to be amazed at all that life and nature have created. But of course life did not create itself, though once started, it seems to be a perpetual motion machine par excellent. Something there is which shapes the galaxies from the chaos the earliest universe. Something also pushes inorganic chemistry over the hump into the organic. The wonder of cells does another hyperspace jump into the wonder of multi-cellular life whose cognitive function births consciousness. And here we all are blown away at the wonder of the force which has swum upstream against entropy to create all that we see and are. I’m filled with awe and gratitude that such a force should be, even without imagining it in human form. It takes that and every other form too.


What’s the purpose of life? I define life as an intelligent sustaining behavior system.

What’s your definition of life?

Not that. There is no evidence, no need of intelligence, purpose to explain it.

“We correctly look to evolution for answers about why life is the way it is,” @Sy_Garte
I really do not know why we should look to evolution for answers about why life is the way it is. After all evolution is wrong when it says that life has no meaning or purpose. Evolution does not provide answers as to the problems of climate change. Evolution does not point the way to how humans can survive on this planet.

So evolution is either wrong or meaningless on questions about life. It makes as much sense to seek answers from it about life as it does to elect a failed business man with no experience in government as president of the USA and then to support him for re-elect him after he has demonstrated his incompetence.

I must disagree with Dawkins on one important point, however. He said. “The universe we observe has no purpose, no evil, no good,” but n Darwin said that evolution is based on the “survival of the fittest.” That is meaning and purpose, it is just a meaning and purpose that not even Dawkins can agree to, but it seems that many other so. In fact POTUS says that the motto of our nation is America First and by extension Me First. .

I have wondered why Evangelicals would espouse Survival of the Fittest, but recently I figured it out. St. Milton Freidman become the idol of the Republican Party because he told them that greed is good and they could justify everything by the trickle down theory of economics.

Since I have long recognized the close connection between Darwinism and lesse faire capitalism, I can see now how selfish rationalizations, dressed up as science, captured the Republican Party. When Evangelicals made their cultural war alliance with that party they swallowed it hook, and sinker.

Survival of the Fittest is a purpose and meaning for life, but it is not a reati9onal meaning and purpose for life. Life for the sake of life is not a rational purpose for life, because there is life for the sake of itself is not rational and good… Indeed Darwinism says that life is war and war is not rational and good. Dawkins says that life is selfish and selfishness is not rational and good…

William Paley used the model of the watch and the watchmaker to describe the creation of the universe. Charles Darwin saw evidence in nature that indicated that flora and fauna were not created de nova, but as the result of a long process called evolution. Because it appear4s that God did not create humans the way some people think God should have created them, the watchmaker way, some people came to the conclusion that God did not create humans, while other concluded that evolution is false. Neither conclusions is true.

The fact is God did create human beings though evolution, but Darwin was not right about natural selection as conflict and evil. Ecology is the bridge between good evolution that brings us together in common purpose to save our plant, and evil evolution which insists that evolution is about Survival of the Fittest. I really cannot understand why more people cannot see this.


Hello, Roger. It’s been a while, but I see not much has changed. It is simply false that Darwin viewed evolution as war and evil, or that there is any connection at all between “Darwinism” and any economic or political theory. See my recent video on what evolution is NOT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC94hDBRu8k

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I quite agree with Dawkins that the objective nature of the scientific worldview is that the universe is founded on mathematical laws of nature which care nothing about our wants and beliefs. That is a big part of its objectivity. I guess it can hardly be surprising that one premise behind embracing naturalism (that this scientific worldview is the limits of reality) is an acceptance of this indifference as universal. It is indeed a refusal to accept this that is behind many scientists seeing value in religion as a balancing counterpoint to science.

I am reminded of a recent thread where the OP wonders how God could say “good” and “very good” in response to what He created. I pointed out that evolution can be considered a proof for the advantage that comes from cooperation. We see it in the evolution of multi-cellular organisms, symbiotic relationships, and in the evolution of social animals. That could be one explanation why God would say “good” and “very good” in response to what He created. Indeed we can say that in man the potential for what cooperation can achieve is nearly without limits in such things as science and technology. In that way, “very good” would be quite applicable. Or at least it was until we became mired in a number of self-destructive habits which isn’t doing anyone any good.

In other words, just because no greater good or purpose than survival is to be found in the rules of the evolutionary process, doesn’t mean that a greater good and purpose cannot be revealed by it in the end. And that can make some of us wonder if that wasn’t somehow intended from beginning.

Personally, am not so awe inspired by self-replication. I think that is the obsession of the old guard of theoretical biology. And the new generation which now seeks to understand abiogenesis in such things as pre-biotic evolution and metabolism first theories, see these self-replicating molecules as nothing but a mechanism for storing information. Thus it is the process by which that information is acquired in the first place which is more fundamental to the process of life. And it is by that process that living organisms can eventually learn the tremendous value of cooperation. I even suspect that cooperation will prove to be a big part of pre-biotic evolution and thus more fundamental to the development of life than self-replication.


@Sy_Garte, thank you for your response. The question seems to be, Is evolution about life or about mathematical equation? It is you who said that it is right for us to look to evolution to help us to understands life, just like politics and economic should help us to understand life.

The in the presentation you say that evolution is about a n equation, which says nothing about meaning and purpose and about life. If that is your understanding of evolution, then you agree with me point that evolution says nothing about life and thus has nothing to do with life.

On the other hand your equation tries to quantify fitness and makes survival based on survival of the fittest without saying how one best becomes fit. This is the Black Hole of evolution that I have been complaining about for lo these many years and no one has made any effort to solve it.

You Liger illustration was, I daresay, a bomb. First of all you should not give a mythical creature the name of a real life creature. That is a recipe for confusion. Second you your ancestor of the lion and tiger looks like an African mole Lion, when it had to look more like a tiger.

Third, the real guts of evolution is just a black box. The proto tiger and the proto lion are separated from each other geographically and then in the course of time they are transformed into tigers and lions. There is no explanation why and how the tigers are miraculously well adapted to the jungles of the Indian subcontinent and the lion are equally miraculously adapted the the African savanna. This is not rocket science. The information is all on the internet.

As far as I am concerned Darwin is not the main one at fault when he misused the theories of Malthus to create natural selection and then accepted the phrase of the survival of the fittest of Herbert Spencer. The ones at fault ar4 those who have blindly accepted this concept as true without seriously questioning it. I for one cannot do along with this mistake. Error is not good. It is time to expose and get rid of it.

That is not the issue. The question is not how I want the universe to work, but how it does work? Does a bees’ nest work because each bee is doing its own thing, or because it is organized so they work together to carry out the mutual goal of survival? Clearly the later. Can we explain this perfectly? No, but ecology is working on it. .

Does Coved 19 care if I wear a mask and practice safe distancing. No, but I do because this is the beast way to defeat this menace and I pray the other responsible people will do the same.

Ahat I be4lieve does not change nature, but it does determine how I relate to nature. What the POTUS believes does not change nature , but it does determine how he relatre to nature and the citizens of the US. It doe make a difference.

If nature has a meaning and purpose then we need to use it for then purpose assuming that i8t is good, rather than try to abuse nat6ure for our own selfish purposes.

“Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe”–Galileo Galilei

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So What?

  1. So you thank God is monolingual?

  2. Do you believe in God? On the other hand if the universe was cre4at3e4d using a language , a Word, than it make sense to believe in a personal livi9ngGod. So which is it?

  3. Galileo was an astronomer, who studies the dead physical world. Evolution is about the living biological world, which is not mechanical and basically mathematical.

  4. The question remains\ to what does evolution tell us about life?

Biology is physics.


And I thought that some Christians were arrogant about there faith.!

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