I think we are all familiar with the basics of Dawkins's theory of evolution. In a nutshell: All creatures are nothing but vehicles of genes with the sole purpose of passing through these genes, and in the case of human beings besides genes also memes are involved.

Isn't this interpretation of evolution circularly: "Why do all organisms exist? Because the purpose of organisms is to pass on genes which have the ability to develop new organisms, thereby creating new organisms under all kinds of environmental pressures". In short: "Life exists to produce new life", which is a circular expression because, in the reason we search for life, the term "life" (for which we try to find a reason) is used.

I think there are more "friendly" interpretations of evolution, of which I have no doubt that it took place.You can interpret evolution for example from a less egoistic perspective, and say evolution takes place to give new organisms a chance to live. Ande, in the case of human beings, create memes to let other people enjoy them (and not just to let your memes live further in other human beings).

If we follow Dawkins's interpretation then the scientific meme is self-undermining because the way we use science is damaging the earth to such an extent that it's the question if the earth will face a long-term future.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has nothing to do with science but with the philosophical question of what is the purpose of life. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Feb 22 '17 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ I second that and fully support @Remi.b's claim. $\endgroup$ – Johnny Feb 22 '17 at 15:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ descheleschilder you are confusing scientific questions with a pseudo philosophical one. "organisms exist becasue they are the most successful means by which genes make more genes" is a completely legitimate scientific answer. If you ignore this becasue you feel life needs deeper meaning you are no longer using science. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 22 '17 at 15:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You are definitely confused as you don't seem to be able to tell the boundary between science and philosophy. You should work out on that. You likely make a strong misrepresentation of what evolution theory is saying. You might want to have a look at a short and easy intro course to evolutionary biology such as Understanding Evolution by UC Berkeley for example. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Feb 22 '17 at 16:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @descheleschilder: You really need to stop believing in evolution. It's not a religion, and doesn't need belief, any more than believing or not believing in gravity will keep you from falling. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Feb 22 '17 at 20:08

The following is more an extended comment than an answer...

Why the question is off-topic

Your question has actually nothing to do with biology. You are looking for a purpose behind the existence of organisms. Science does not care about purpose, nothing has a purpose, everything just happen mechanically. If the theory of evolution gives you a bad feeling, then I am sorry for you that it does but that point is not to be discussed on a science forum. I am voting to close for this reason.


Please note that evolution is the science that has for goal to explain the change in allele frequency through time. The process studied is a continuous succession of reproduction and therefore in some respect a repetitive process but it does not make the explanation of how change in allele frequency occur a tautologic explanation. You will note by the way, that evolution does not explain the origin of life, this is the role of another of field of biology that we call abiogenesis.

Did you say Dawkins's theory of evolution?!

I often get a little mad when people write Darwin's theory of evolution thinking this is a modern concept. But writing Dawkins's theory of evolution is even worst. Dawkins is foremost a popular science communicator, so there is really no such thing as Dawkins's theory of evolution. Dawkins was also a researcher before and he brought some knowledge that allowed to grow our theory of evolution which we call the modern evolutionary synthesis (some argue that we should rename it Extended evolutionary synthesis in the light of recent discoveries).

|improve this answer|||||
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Eh, I mostly agree with you (and definitely about the off-topicness), but I think if we reinterpret what the OP said as "Dawkin's ideas regarding evolution" (because that's what OP is referencing, not any of Dawkin's scientific contributions), which I think is what OP means rather than giving Dawkin's credit for the whole theory of evolution, the point that Dawkins emphasizes is essentially that there need not be a purpose. The existence of, and evolution of, organic life does not need to have a purpose to exist. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 22 '17 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Bryan. I read the selfish gene a while ago and I don't remember such saying but maybe he says that. Dawkins is known for mixing up philosophy, science and politics in its public speech. In which case, the question is of course still off-topic as the saying that 'there is no need for a purpose' is not a scientific claim but one that is to discussed in philosophy of knowledge (incl. philosophy of science). $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Feb 22 '17 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ I always get a little mad when people say that everything just happens mechanically. That means that everything they say also happens mechanically, so we can attach no meaning or purpose to the things they say. Which in turn means the evolutionary theory (which also developed mechanically) doesn't have a purpose or meaning. So what use is it discussing it? All the discussion develops mechanically too, depriving the discussion of purpose or meaning. I on the other hand can discuss the various interpretations of evolution, because I don't believe everything happens in a mechanical way. $\endgroup$ – descheleschilder Feb 22 '17 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ I am sorry you don't like it but welcome to science anyway, where ones emotional response to an evidence should not alter the nature of this evidence. All of this is really a matter of philosophy of knowledge. Please consider having an intro course to philosophy of knowledge and consider asking your questions on philosophy.SE $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Feb 22 '17 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ I might be putting words in Dawkins mouth here, too, so maybe I should check that. @descheleschilder I think what someone like Dawkins would argue about purpose is that there is actually a lot of freedom in an approach to life that says there is no set purpose: it means that, as a human who has the fortune (and burden) of having a decent amount of intellect, you have an opportunity to choose your own purpose, to find your own meaning in your own life. It's a different "type" of purpose than some sort of guiding principle for the universe, but a purpose nonetheless. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 22 '17 at 16:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.