8. The process of evolution has no externally set goal, but entities in evolutionary systems will survive or perish. The existence of man has no known purpose. If we want to survive, we must know the rules of the system we have evolved in and play by them.
Millions of species have come and gone on this planet without any expression of celebration or sympathy from the universe. Life arises, it competes, and it struggles until it succumbs. We see this very clearly in the fossil record, we've watched it happen during our brief recorded history, and it is easy to project it continuing for millions of years to come. We are the first species to see this though and learn the rules about why this happens. Given our desire to survive, surely a cursory glance at Evolution 101 is warranted. In that study, we see principles about adaptation, fragility versus robustness, tit-for-tat cooperation, the power of trial and error, and what constitutes an evolutionarily stable strategy. Contemplation of these principles gives rise to a few conclusions.
9. Survival requires progress and stability. Stability and progress require society. Society requires cooperation. Cooperation requires balancing long-term benefits against short-term costs in order to control our emotions and guide our actions. Balancing long-term benefits against short-term costs requires wisdom. We must study philosophy - the love of wisdom - to know how to live and survive.
By this, I don't mean we all need to become professional philosophers (nor even study them for that matter), in the same way that we don't all need to become professional chefs in order to eat our daily meals. But we do learn how to cook, we do study how to refrigerate milk, boil an egg, assemble a sandwich, etc., etc. Similarly, if we want to feed our minds, we have to learn how to think logically, understand our biases, examine our fears, use reason to recognize good, pin down difficult definitions, ask questions about truth and beauty, and discuss our beliefs with our friends. I truly believe that when we do that sincerely, the best ideas will survive and spread, which will allow us to do so as well.
How about a final goal then? The universe may not provide one for us, but can we determine one for ourselves? Once we develop and share our finest ideas, where might that lead us?
10. Evolution describes the rules that govern the way that life survives. The end product of evolution therefore would be immortal life. Humans may have the intellectual capacity to achieve this end.
We have longed for this goal since the first comprehension of death. Our myths tell tales of it, our gods exhibit it, our artists tell cautionary tales about it, our scientists strive to create it. Surely we can admit that deep down we do want this, even if it's just for one more day at a time. Maybe not when the vagaries of existence wear us down over the years until the struggle becomes too much for our imperfect bodies, but while we are truly alive, we never want that to end. All life feels that way. And if we can understand our bodies and our environment to the point where we can engineer a permanence of that spirit - why wouldn't we?