From the viewpoint of our genes, having children must be the meaning of life, says science writer Dr. Lawrence Rifkin. The only purpose of their existence is to be passed down to future generations. Of course there are plenty of meaningful people whose existence is not defined by the goal of having children (homosexuals and infertile couples, to name two kinds), but evolution, says Rifkin, cannot be so easily dismissed. “We owe our existence to this process, and our future depends on it. Perhaps the meaning of your life as a biological creature is to make babies and help ensure the survival of life.”
What’s the Big Idea?
To be sure, a great deal of meaning has been given to life without the singular goal of creating new life, whether than means adopting a child, creating a work of art or helping enliven a community. Having children does not give exclusive meaning to life, but meaning does depend on procreation. “Differential genetic success…will provide the template for what humans will become in the future. It is to evolutionary genetic success that we—and all life—owe our existence, and to which the future of all life on Earth depends. Including creatures that create our own meaning.”