Dr. Keith Devlin: The Meaning of Life… The Replicating Molecules

SanFrancisco2013Excellence Reporter: Dr. Devlin, what is the meaning of life?

Keith Devlin: Life is the meaning of life. I know of no other answer. We and all other living things are the result of millions of years of chemical reactions and natural selection. In our case, we have a degree of self awareness sufficient to question what we are, but the only real “meaning” lies in the replicating molecules we are made up from.

Our self consciousness makes that a scary reality, and many avoid facing it by adopting various belief systems, the more common being called religions. But if you accept it, and follow it through (as our minds allow us to do), you find a non-reified, non-deified human-sense of meaning and purpose, grounded in our position in the Earth’s ecosystem.


~Dr. Keith Devlin is a mathematician at Stanford University in California, a co-founder and Executive Director of the university’s H-STAR institute, a co-founder of the Stanford Media X research network, and a Senior Researcher at CSLI. He is a World Economic Forum Fellow, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

Copyright © 2015 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Academia, Economics, Science

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