Do living things on Earth have a purpose?

Some argue that living things on Earth have a purpose. Some think living things on Earth originated by Darwinian natural selection. Some think they did so but were guided by God. Some think they did not do so but rather were made by God without natural selection. Who is right?

Living things on Earth have a purpose edit

Pro edit

  •   Argument for Living things were created by God for a purpose. Whether we know the purpose--and some of us think we do--is beside the point; the purpose exists.
    •   Objection Many people believe God does not exist, therefore preventing this purpose from applying to them.
    •   Objection There being God is implausible. See Does God exist?. A further debate on this is for the linked page.
  •   Argument for The purpose of living things is to stay alive.
    •   Objection There is no philosophical value to the purpose of simply staying alive and nothing else.
    •   Objection The quasi-purpose driven by Darwinian natural selection is the maximization of copying of genes into future generations, not individual survival. There are plenty of examples of this in nature, individuals including insects giving up their lives when it fits genetically. And it is not true purpose either; the natural selection is no true artifact maker and cannot give true purpose.
  •   Argument for The purpose of living things is to stay alive and reproduce.
    •   Objection First, living things originated by Darwinian natural selection and do not have a true purpose, merely quasi-purpose. Second, the quasi-purpose is not to stay alive and reproduce but rather to maximize spread of one's genes into future generations. This is different from reproduction since even a childless individual can support their genes by supporting children of relatives.
    •   Objection This might be true for many species, but not for all. For example, human being (in our days) does not have the purpose to reproduce, but to live, be happy, enjoy life, etc.
      •   Objection Though those are all valid purposes and capture the diversity of values we all carry as individuals, they occupy lower tiers in what appears to be a hierarchy of purposes, the apex pertaining to values universally and objectively held amongst all, no matter the unique circumstances one is immersed into. Reproduction is a viable candidate for this position, for we are reminded each day of our fragility and subordination to time. In fact, many of our habits exist to counter death or, at the very least, to preserve life (eating, hydrating, sleeping, productivity to earn money to live, etc.). Pre-requisite to maintaining a quality of life is to have been given a life. Expand these anxieties to the level of the community and we have the impersonal, ulterior purpose to reproduce, enabling generations of unique individuals to construct whatever purposes suit their personal values.
      •   Objection The above assertion that humans have a purpose different from other animals is made with no further explanation or proof. In fact, the Darwinian quasi-purpose of the anatomical structures that produce the feeling of happiness and enjoyment in humans (e.g. brain and endocrine system) is to maximize spread of one's genes into future generations. No construction of a genuine purpose as opposed to a quasi-purpose was presented, nor was it delegated to external sources.

Con edit

  •   Argument against There is no all-mighty, all-knowing, and good-wishing creator of the universe, the Earth and living things. Instead, living things originated by Darwinian evolution by natural selection. This process does not involve purpose, merely quasi-purpose. The quasi-purpose of living things is to serve as survival vehicles of their genes and maximize the spread of the genes to future populations. Since that is no true purpose, living things have no purpose. If one needs a surrogate purpose, the quasi-purpose of gene propagation is a candidate.
    •   Objection What if we are in a simulation and the simulation operator had a purpose for creating living forms or at least for starting an evolutionary process? He does not need to be all-mighty, all-knowing or good-wishing for this to work.
      •   Objection We have no good reason to believe we are in a simulation. Assuming no simulation absent evidence is more parsimonious, doing away with entities not required for explanation.
        •   Objection Less parsimonious does not mean untrue.
          •   Comment If one assumes that the world including living things was made by a maker for a purpose, regardless of the properties of the maker, then indeed they have a purpose, whether known or unknown. But that is part of that assumption, and no good arguments to support that assumption are known.
    •   Objection While Darwin's theories may explain how life evolved, they are silent on how Life came into being, and therefore should not be used to prove it or disprove that it has a purpose.
      •   Objection Darwin's theories do not explain the origination of the very first forms of life or proto-life, but they do explain origination of all that followed, including living form, function and complexity from single cells to huge multi-cellular complexes of patterns of patterns of patterns called organisms. Nearly all functional and behavioral being of an organism is explained by the Darwinian natural selection.

See also edit

Further reading edit