What is the Meaning of Life?
The Origin of life-Evolution Part 1
by Ernest O'Neill
What is the meaning of life? That's what we're talking about. What's the meaning of the purpose of life, and why are we here? What's the point of it all? What we were discussing yesterday was: Are there any clues in the universe itself and especially in the existence of the world itself? Is there any meaning that one can perceive in that? We were talking, with what you thought was the origin of the world itself. We discuss several possibilities all of us have learned almost by rote since we were school children. Things like, the "Big Bang" theory or the idea of some decomposing substance, and really none of them make too much sense.
Some of us, of course, have been so programmed through our education that we tend to say, "Well that's easy. Where did the world come from? That's easy. Evolution explains it all. It all came about by evolution, that's it! That's obviously proven over the years. Now, everybody accepts evolution and that's the explanation of the origin of the world and of the universe. I'm happy with that. Everybody else is happy with it. All our top scientists are happy with the idea and that's good enough for me. The cosmic question is too big for me to answer, and so I'm prepared to be led by the great thinkers of our era. They obviously have concluded that evolution is the reason for the existence of things and the explanation of the origin of things. That's what I believe. Evolution is the answer. Of course, evolution is not at all any attempt at explaining the origin of the world. It has never pretended to be such an explanation. It has never claimed to be an explanation of the origin of anything.
Evolution is a suggestion of the way things might have evolved after an original creation of some kind took place. That's indeed why anybody bothers about a "Big Bang" theory because all scientists know that evolution is simply a theory or hypothesis about the way things might have developed after the original seed, whatever that was, was created or came into existence; but evolution itself is never claimed by scientists of stature or integrity to be an explanation of the origin of things. If anything, it is what Darwin himself described it as being, a possible explanation of the origin of species, but certainly not an explanation of the origin of the world and of these species. It's simply a possible explanation of the origin of species of different forms, different types, different kinds of creatures and things.
In other words, evolution is just one way in which things might have developed into their present state once there had been an original creation. But, that's all it is. Indeed, evolution itself has some problems as far as its own origin is concerned because, of course, we all glibly say; "Well, well, evolution obviously comes about by the survival of the fittest. That's it. That's what happens. The little moths that aren't strong enough die off, and the ones that remain are the ones that continue. So, that's how we have certain creatures today in existence. The weak ones have just fallen by the wayside." You can see yourself that there is, in fact, a question that begs to be asked. The question is this, what programmed that direction into evolution? I mean, why should the fittest survive? Why should anything try to survive? Why should there be any urge to live? What put the urge to live or the urge to survive? What programmed things to try to survive?
In other words, it's no use saying, "The survival of the fittest explains how evolution operates." The fact is evolution itself is a question unless we can explain how the program to survive or the program to exercise itself to maintain life came into any creatures at all. It's the same with the whole suggestion of the direction of evolution. What programmed evolution itself? Some of us say, "Oh well, I don't know. Evolution obviously is the evolution of things from simpler forms to more complex forms. That's what evolution is. Things started as a single cell in a kind of formation and then, they broke into two cells. Then, they developed more cells into more complex systems. So, I mean the ape was simpler than we are. It has a smaller brain then we have, so our brain develops. Evolution is simply the evolving of simple forms to more complex forms." Don't you see that there's a question that begs to be asked? What determined that things would evolve from a simple to a more complex form?
Why didn't things evolve from a more complex form to a simpler form? What programmed these things to operate in this way? What put the urge inside things to evolve even if that's the way that things evolved? What programmed them to evolve that way? It's not enough to say that's the way they evolved. The question is, what made them want to do that?
Of course, some of us glibly answer, "Well, I don't know, but it all comes about by mutation. That's how it comes about." That's how you get some darkened moths in industrial cities as opposed to white moths. It comes partly from the effect of the environment, and they pass genes to one another. They create mutations, and yet, the fact is part of the reason we're all worried about the fall-out from nuclear disasters is that they cause mutations. The mutations are things that always cause deterioration. They cause things to deteriorate, not to evolve into more beautiful and wonderful forms. They cause them to deteriorate. Most mutations that we know of are actually harmful things. They are not things that improve.
In other words, if things like evolution are caused by mutation, then, you have to ask the question, "Where did this beneficial mutation come from? What programmed that beneficial mutation into evolution?" So, when one answers, "Oh, evolution caused the universe. The only suggestion is that evolution might be the way the universe has developed into its present state. However, every suggestion we make as to how evolution took place brings us back to the question, "Yes, but what programmed that direction into evolution? Inanimate objects can't create that kind of program of direction themselves. Of course, that's the kind of statement that the so-called father of evolution made.
If you have read the Origin of Species, you remember that the last chapter ends like this, Darwin writes, "There is a grandeur in this view of life with its several powers having been originally breathed by the creator to a few forms or into one that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity. From so simple a beginning, endless forms so beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved." So, Darwin makes it clear that the origin of species is not an alternative to creation. He, himself says, "There is a grandeur in this view of life with its several powers having been originally breathed by the creator into a few forms or into one."
There has to be some explanation of the thing that originally evolved. Maybe you'd think a little about that and we can discuss that a little further tomorrow.
Meaning of Life Table of Contents