The one thing that evolves, the one thing that continues, the one thing that has brought even our miserable human-selves to stand atop the food chain, is the physical manifestations and survival instincts programmed into our physiques and psyches by our ever-improving true 'life-forces', our DNA.
Forget for a moment about humanity itself. (C'mon, it's not that hard) forget about our religion, our imaginations, our abilities, our search for answers and truth, our need for reason and logic, Dancing with the stars, edible thongs and sham-wows.
What is it that really continues and survives on this planet from one eon to the next? What is it that no matter what we fight over, believe in, rape and murder each other over, and still feel superior to all other life on this planet; beneath all our posturing and feeling-so-special about ourselves, what goes on no matter what we do? Our DNA.
DNA is what tells the grass how to grow to achieve the most amount of photosynthesis from the least amount of light and take advantage of whatever amount of rain it can get. DNA is why some of us have 'innie' belly buttons and others have 'outie' belly buttons. But it's not just a naval thing. DNA determines how we think, feel, look, metabolize food, how our muscles develop and grow, and even how and when to use our aggressive behaviors. DNA rules- for itself, not for us.
We could all look like Sponge-Bob, and eat off the ground like ocean-bottom-feeders and our DNA wouldn't give a damn, not as long as its own specific strand was able to continue for another day.

My point is this: All animal and plant life on this planet, including the oh-so cool human race, is nothing more than protoplasm wrapped around the true inhabitants of this world, DNA. The real reason we walk upright, developed thumbs, and can sometimes work a Rubik's Cube; the real reason there is life on this planet at all is because DNA wants to continue. We are merely the hosts, or avatars if you will, for the real life that rules this planet, DNA.

If you have thoughts on this assumption of mine, and possibly even intelligent comments to make about such a ludicrous thought, I welcome such replies.
I'm presently working on a fictional sci-fi story that is loosely based on this concept. Shoot me down, please!

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An excellent point well made. What really appeals to me is the interconnectedness of all living things on this wee blue green oasis. Elements of our - homo sapien - DNA are shared by all other living things. Of course the actual amount of shared code may be very small and varies according to the type and complexity of the organism. However I find it awe inspiring that in a very real way you and I are related to: a blade of grass, a salmon, a silver birch, a brown bear, an osprey, an orchid, a python, an ant, a leopard etc etc etc. Who needs religion; I am you, you are me and we are part of all that be...

Good thought Stodius, and it is inspiring. Much nicer than the arrogance of religion.

Nice, Stodius.

Have you read The Selfish Gene? Dawkins makes a similar argument, only in his case he's pointing out that we are ambulatory gene-replicating engines, rather than DNA-replicating engines.

No, I have not, but I will. Thanks for the heads up Dave.

Of course that is one way to look at it, and it is a legitimate one. But even if this reductionism-inspired perspective on our place in the world and the order of things is a more "fundamental" one in a sense, is it also the more important one? I would think not.

The most important feature in this world is perhaps an emergent phenomenon: (reflexive) consciousness, that can indeed (be used to) reflect in such a profound way on things and the way it itself relates to all other things, especially other living things and even more especially other living, conscious things.

I think you have to look at those different levels of organization in their own right and not jumble them in arbitrary ways. DNA, RNA and metabolic pathways and cycles form also a level of organization in their own right. But they in turn are eventually made out of elements like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and so on and crucially dependent on the properties of these elements.

The properties of the atoms themselves are (mostly) dependent on their electron configurations, which is crucially dependent on certain physical constants like the strength of electromagnetic force, the mass and charge of the electron and so on. And you can go further down into the realm of quarks, the strong force, gluons and so on. As opposed to DNA that every living thing on Earth shares, these constituents are shared by every living - and non living entity or thing in the entire Universe.

But if you look at a living organism, lets say another human, you are seeing more than changing configurations of subatomic particles. You are seeing more than an incredibly rich collection of compartimentalized, wonderfully efficient and mind-blowingly inventive chemical interactions even though life is a just a particular subchapter in the book of chemistry. You are not only seeing a collection of organs, muscles, nerves, fibres, glands and whatever in some sort of symbiotic relationship with each other. You are actually seeing another human being that you are capable to interact with and understand. (Well at least most of the time.)

And I do think at this level of organization we are - with comfortable distance - the coolest species on the planet.


Consciousness should not be underrated. The ability to contemplate our own existence does place us in a special category on this rock. I am not in agreement with the OP's assertion that DNA is responsible for our ability to think or how we think. Our environment and what we are able to retrieve from it has a huge impact on our thoughts.

Yes we humans or any other species are just factories to ensure the survival of DNA. Evolution does not know that we exist. As mentioned above “The Selfish Gene” is worth reading.

Yes this whole thing the OP wrote sounds very compatible with both Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype.  Neither of which I have read in decades.

Rest assured though that the atoms are pretty doggone stable and not liable to just turn into energy.

Of course if all the atoms in you turned into energy all at once it'd make a thermonuclear warhead look like a wet firecracker.

Maybe I should clarify.  I understood you to mean total matter->energy conversion; if that's not what you meant then I guess we should get on the same page.

Anyhow let's follow it; E (in joules) = m (in Kg) * c^2 ( in m/sec )^2

OK, let's figure 75 Kg, multiplied by C^2, C is 3 x 10^8 m/sec, so we are looking at 75 x 9 x 10^16 or 675 x 10^16 joules.  call it 6.76 quintillion joules.

One megaton is 4.184 x 10 ^ 15 joules.  That's a pretty damn big bomb today, we've gotten away from 50 megaton "Tsar Bombas"

I get 1615 megatons (less than I expected actually).  Nevertheless it still to my mind makes Tsar Bomba look puny.

It is slightly pedantic of me to point out that saying the world is not “inhabited” by DNA as it implies that DNA is “living” in the same sense that a cell or bacterium is living. DNA is “non-living”. It is a molecule, albeit a very large one. That is why information can be retrieved after long periods of time from it.

So for a Sci-Fi story it could survive on (say) a meteorite for eons before it crashed into a planet. That would be within the realms of possibilities.


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