This comic reminds me of a conversation I had with Murray a couple of weeks ago. We were hanging out on his roof, and we got to talking about evolution. I had been questioning whether or not I wanted to have kids in the future, and so the conversation began with the idea of: why do we decide to reproduce? For me it seems ridiculous to bring another mouth into the world that needs to be fed, when there are so many other already existing mouths that you could choose to feed instead. Yet anyone I've talked to about vasectomies has asked me why I don't want a kid of my own instead of an adopted one.
So this got me thinking, where does this instinctual drive to move our genetics forward come from? Is it ingrained narcissism that wants to see little versions of ourselves running around? Or is there a deeper reason for wanting to have kids? I've actually never really seen a logical reason to progress life forward in general, because being is equal to and opposite to non-being. We see life as valuable because we are living, so we are obviously biased towards our current state. Think about it this way: do you want to die? Probably not. What about the time before you were born: do you worry about not existing then? No, because you never experienced existence before you were born, and you had no conscious mind from which to draw judgement from. So why do we feel the need to continue life, and even more specifically our own genetic line?
If everyone died tomorrow in a doomsday scenario, the universe would care less. The planets would still exist, the fundamental laws of the universe would still exist. Or would they? Does an observer have to be present for reality to exist? Hmmm. Anyway, the conclusion we came up with is that we reproduce because we are simply adapting our species to our changing environment, yet this doesn't really address the question very well. This statement simply explains the process of evolution, and it does not address the roots of the process, or the root of what makes the quality of being worthy of continuation.
Now think back to the very first life form, a very simple single celled organism. Where did it's inherent instinct to evolve come from? Why did it decide to start the chain to what would eventually become very complex multi celled organisms? As a one cell being you wouldn't have any ingrained instincts, because you'd have been the very first being, which means no predecessors to pass on instinctual knowledge to you. There has to be something deeper at work here.
Let's talk about change. Recently I've come to the conclusion that change is the essence of reality, and that idea is also found at the heart of string theory. My hypothesis is that life evolved because change needs to happen. Why does change have to happen? Well that's how the universe is structured. Everything is always changing, and it has been doing so throughout all of eternity. If you believe in an expanding and deflating universal timeline filled with an infinite amount of big bangs, well there's the fundamental change right there. There would be a regular shift from the universe existing to the universe not existing. Or entropy, the change from energy to dissipated heat in the universe, it is a fundamental law of nature (second law of thermodynamics). From entropy to the quality of being, it all fits under this change model.
So what's the point? Well there really isn't one. It's as Calvin mentions above. Nature is ruthless and our existence is very fragile, temporary and precious. We are a result of eons of change, and in a sense we are precious because everything that has happened has led us to this moment. But this moment could have been any other moment and have been just as special because it simply was what it was at the time of observation. So remember that what is happening now is truly amazing, but it could have been anything else and been just as amazing. Seems redundant, but change makes everything equal from the observer’s perspective. We are just one grain of sand in the infinitely large hourglass. So what this has meant in my life is just go with the flow and enjoy the drop. And be open to change, because change is everything!