Q: What is the meaning of death?

A: Organisms are giant machines, and they require a lot of energy. All day, every day, most organisms spend their time concerned with the consumption and excretion of biological material. And since they constantly reproduce, they are introducing more of these consumers into the environment.

Birth brings about mutations, which brings about change and leads us down the path of evolution. Without birth, nothing would evolve. And without death, we would completely engulf the planet in just a few generations.

And so, the meaning of death is to bring balance to the ecosystem by ensuring that future organisms have a chance to evolve.


7 responses to “Q: What is the meaning of death?”

  1. That’s the reason for death, not the meaning. C’mon Eric!

  2. The reason we die (aside from disease, accidents, and murder) is because our cells are programmed to eventually self-destruct. Why? Why don’t we live forever?

    To pave the way for evolution. That is the meaning.

  3. Were your description accurate (I think it sort of is, by the way, just infitisimally fractional), it would imply a grand engineer or orchestrator. Is that part of our belief system? I’m just curious…

    I sort of agree with Curtis. You explain a role death plays in existence, but I wouldn’t call it the meaning or reason for death. ALthough we allderive our own meaning from our experience, so guess I can’t very well say you’re wrong…

  4. Evolution is not a conscious process, so trying to apply meaning to it is inherently difficult (if not impossible). The only meaning has to be interpreted. And my interpretation is that we are “meant” to die to encourage the transmission, mutation, and replication of DNA. If beings lived indefinitely, they would be far less inclined to reproduce. And the less reproduction you have, the longer evolution takes.

  5. See above, but an interesting observation. I have a problem with life having any “meaning” beyond what we give it through our actions. I do agree with your observation on the deletirious effects of prolonged longevity/survivability on evolution. It is also and already one of the major causes of the world’s dangerously exploding population. I wish more people/governments and NGOs were more concerned and more vocal. Even Gore and the climate change crew would do well to recognize this largest factor in expanded greenhouse emmissions…

  6. Yeah, I was mostly just expanding on your previous post. It’s impossible to give meaning to something has no intent, so the best thing we can do is interpret the reasons and give it our own meaning.

    Our explosive population growth over the past century is frightening. Did you know there are *twice* as many people alive today than there were when Nixon was in office? We are not prepared for this. Just because people are talking about it doesn’t mean we can do anything about it. That’s why it drives me so batty when people are skeptical about global warming. It has taken us almost 30 years to begin properly addressing the AIDS crisis and there’s still decades left to go. But we’re still debating whether or not global warming is even an issue.

    “Is the boat sinking or is the water level rising?”… Read More

  7. Well put. But the argument goes to wealth distribution which nobody wants to discuss. And also to health care and compassion. I would cold-bloodedly argue that if we’re not prepared to deal with the wealth distribution system we should damn well quit trying to make ourselves feel good by cutting infant mortality in third world and developing countries. A century ago a mother in Darfur would have six kids, five of whom died as did she. If we keep two or three alive, we’ve upset the balance, which sounds wonderful except they need to be fed, hydrated, housed, educated (yeah, right) etc.

    I love to tell my purportedly Christian associates that we are in fact the first generation in the history of mankind with the capacity to feed, shelter, clothe, educate, etc. every single human on the planet. That we don’t is absolutely because we choose not to, and I’m not sure how that will go over at the pearly gate admissions desk…

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