Unlike religion, science makes a simple and rational case about what we should do with our lives, and despite the gray matter that resides inside our skulls, we have evolved from lesser organisms to fulfill some very simple duties:

1. We eat.
2. We sleep.
3. We fuck.
4. We shit.
5. We have kids.
6. We die.

After several million years of evolution, humanity's basic role is to fulfill those six biological functions in spite of whatever beliefs (or unbeliefs, in the case of Atheists like us) we might have.

Of course, there's more to living your life than just doing those six functions. We have to do things like work, pay our bills, and do everything we can to improve the quality of our lives.

Life becomes much more simple when you realize that you are genetically programmed to fulfill those six functions whether you like it, or not. In essence, it is our job to fulfill these roles as our genes intended. However, it doesn't mean that we can run around and act irresponsibly. We're still bound by the laws, customs, and social norms of society.

On one hand, we are born to do those six things; on the other hand, what you do with the rest of your life is completely up to you, and once we understand why we're here and what we were born to do, we can move on to the more important things, like making the most out of the rest of our lives.

Views: 23

Comment by Graham E. Lau on February 18, 2010 at 3:31pm
You missed the most important one on the list...

We Live!

We've been searching now for sometime for a unified theory of biology with which we can identify life from non-life. As an astrobiologist, I know the search for life beyond Earth will require a clear understanding of what constitutes life. Many definitions of life fit most life as we know it, but biological machinery has always posed a problem (i.e. viruses, prions, self-replicating and catalyzing RNA molecules that exist outside of cells, etc.). Also, things like fire and self-replicating clay minerals and certain salt crystals fit most of the definitions of life. The real separator right now is evolution through natural selection.

However, even though I'm a scientist and I love researching how we came to be here and what makes the universe operate the way it does, there are deep philosophical questions of what gives our lives purpose. Many people still rely on religions, the supernatural, or otherwise odd suppositions to feel like they have purpose, but none of these offer anything really substantial. I like to think that we evolved within the natural universe, but the fact that we have come to think and reason means tat we have given ourselves purpose. Beyond simple biological processes, we have come to question our existence and to seek out an understanding of our universe. That to me means that we are not only living biologically, but we are giving ourselves a purpose: to know.
Comment by Mike Donohoe on February 18, 2010 at 6:22pm
Interesting stuff. I would say that for me reductionism is a very valuable tool but that when people are regarded as "consumers," a term that reminds me of the Nazi phrase for expandable people as "useless bread gobblers," then the tool of reductionism wags the dog.

While it won't ever probably be demonstrated in a laboratory I think that what we perceive ourselves to be matters. Long ago I was in a kind of trap of feeling that anything that was not objective truth was not truth, but I think the subjective should be validated as more than a reason to continue breathing and "consuming." It takes 2 to tango, nature being rife with dualities, and I think objectivity and subjectivity are both valid. Without either of these qualities with the emphasis on the subjective there would be no music, paintings, sculptures, movies, culinary arts or any other creative expressive and enjoyable aspects of existence. There would be no compassion and with that no humanity. Why, we would be useless, nothing more than consumers.
Comment by B. on February 18, 2010 at 6:45pm
I feel like defining one's purpose by evolutionary or biological goals is doing a severe injustice to what constitutes a "human being". The very fact that we are conscious, that we can live lives beyond mere instinct, that we have morality attests to greater potential than that dictated by mammalian biology.

I have far greater and more meaningful endeavors than avoiding death and successfully reproducing. To make this the pivot of your existence is completely tragic. Why not embrace a little self-esteem?
Comment by Philip Laureano on February 18, 2010 at 7:00pm
@B,

Believe me, I have more than enough self-esteem and there's definitely more to life than just reproducing and dying. No matter what you believe and no matter what you do, this is our biological purpose, and that has nothing to do with my self-esteem and the way I choose to live my life or the way you might choose to live your life. For me, it comes naturally as accepting that there really isn't a "god" at all. We're born, we live, and we die. What you decide to do with your life is up to you.

It can't get any simpler than that. I can go on and on about my own personal beliefs about how I see the universe and what my life means to me, but those six functions are things that we all can objectively verify that is hardwired into every person.

This is as close to finding an objective reason for existence as you can possibly get. It might sound like a tragic existence, but I assure you that it's not--there are six billion people in the world that are hardwired to perform these six functions, and generally speaking, they don't notice anything different.

The only difference is that I'm just pointing this all out. This post isn't about how I perceive life--it's about what life truly is about, from a scientific perspective. So you might think that life is beautiful (or not so beautiful), but that's subjective, and that's not a part of the discussion.
Comment by B. on February 18, 2010 at 8:00pm
So you are the first to state these reasons, and we're supposed to be, what? Impressed? I'm not really sure how you expected us to react to this. I don't know of anyone that can honestly say, "omg! I've never thought of it that way before!!! You are so right!".

This isn't a unique point of view, or even a particularly interesting one. Furthermore, it has no merit. Firstly, because it's straight up wrong, but secondly because it really has nothing to offer, even if one entertains it for fun.

If you actually believe these six functions alone are the universal purpose of everyone's life, I think we can all rest assured you are not a scientist -- even if you insist its a "scientific perspective" (lol what a faker). Any biologist would reduce the list to #5 alone, and any Anthropologist or other social scientist would insist on adding exponentially to it.

It's not a scientific perspective if it's not science, sorry. I think you find it worthwhile to explore the real objectivity of human existence, rather than making a desperate grasp at your own weak theory and insisting it must be correct because everything else is "subjective".
I said nothing about "beauty", or anything that can be remotely interpreted as "subjective". I acknowledge that I live in an objective universe, and I abide by its fixed rules. Play fair, please.
Comment by Philip Laureano on February 18, 2010 at 8:07pm
@B.

So if it isn't a unique point of view or an even an interesting one, then why are you even wasting your time with it? OTOH, I find your lack of agreement...quite interesting. OK, I'll play fair. What's your perspective?
Comment by Mike Donohoe on February 18, 2010 at 8:53pm
What about urination and vomiting and breathing?! =)
Comment by Philip Laureano on February 18, 2010 at 8:57pm
@mike: LOL. Sorry, I didn't want to get THAT graphic :)

@B:

Ok, let's run with it.

This isn't a unique point of view, or even a particularly interesting one. Furthermore, it has no merit. Firstly, because it's straight up wrong, but secondly because it really has nothing to offer, even if one entertains it for fun.

It has no merit because it's "straight up wrong, and nothing to offer"? I find your logic quite circular, B. Show me where I am factually incorrect, and I will be more than happy to say I'm wrong. Calling my argument uninteresting and "not unique" does not refute its validity. It's a red herring, and I'm more interested in seeing you show me how I'm wrong. How are you going to refute my statements?
Comment by B. on February 18, 2010 at 11:31pm
How is my logic circular? You're the one that divided "survive & reproduce" into 6 separate things lol

Anyway, as far as evolution goes, it conserves more than physical attributes -- human behaviors have been preserved that serve a purpose to our lives. These include emotions, imagination, abilities, etc. To reduce our purpose to physical actions alone is a bit insulting to us as a species, and erroneous as it denies our entire psychology.
We are not your typical mammal. We are the thinking mammal. We are the only ones able to behave CONTRARY to our instinct, and thus, instinct can be taken off the table. I am always first and foremost a scientist, but I acknowledge that there is a science of the mind, and if we are to entertain our mental purpose (which is as much of us, if not more so, than our physical being), philosophy must enter the picture.

Listen to Graham & Mike up there, we're meant to LIVE -- and that is far more than mere survival.

If natural selection has endowed us with a mind that facilitates complex societies, tool-making, language, relationships, character development, hobbies, etc. then our purpose is to USE IT.
We have standards far superior to "shitting and fucking" (did you need to use those words? What are you, 12 years old?). Any person that views themselves as a mere biological parasite seeking to complete 1-6 has no sense of self-worth. You claim to have self-esteem, yet no one that sees themselves as equivalent to any mammal can possibly value themselves more than any mammal. Your list can be satisfied by dogs and cows, if that is your purpose then you would be content with the life of the dog or a cow, and even you cannot possibly argue that you would without lying.

Like I said, reducing a human being to its mere physical necessities does an injustice to our species, and is, yes, you guessed it, just plain wrong.
Comment by Philip Laureano on February 19, 2010 at 12:54am
B,

Damn. As much as I'd love to disagree with you, your reasoning is sound.

Touche.

I was wrong.

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