Question: What is the most powerful trick in the universe?
Long, long ago, in the billions of years, a molecule somehow happened that was different to all other molecules that had ever existed. The unique difference was that this molecule could copy itself. It could replicate.
Once replication got under way–over those billions of years of evolutionary time and by an ongoing process of trial and error–from this special molecule evolved DNA and genes and subsequently everything that has ever lived on the planet.
The design energy behind natural selection is replicator power. Replicator power is the breathtaking process behind the evolutionary design of our biosphere. For 15 billion years replicator power has been on the job. If genes couldn’t replicate, then you wouldn’t be reading this now because neither you nor I nor screens and words would ever have existed.
Genetic replication is a very clever trick and is certainly the most powerful fact of life that we know of.
From Natural Selection to Volitional Selection
‘Natural selection’, as Charles Darwin explained, is how the fittest organisms are the one’s who are selected by nature to survive long enough to reproduce and pass on their fitness.
Later in 1953, Crick & Watson showed how this was achieved at the molecular level by DNA in the genes. The biological design of all living things arises out of the gene wars being waged over who gets selected for the next generation. The first replicator – the gene – had now been discovered by science.
Today, science has developed such a comprehensive understanding of how this process, genetics, works that we now have genetic engineering and the reality of ‘volitional selection’ which is the ability to by-pass natural selection and to choose which genes we want to survive and replicate.
Humanity is now faced with the ability to modify genes and to choose specific outcomes. How will we make these choices? Much will depend on the quality of our thinking.
DFQ (Feedback Question):
What is the clever thing that genes do?