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Thread: Why do we struggle? Survival in the Big Picture of existence

  1. #1 Why do we struggle? Survival in the Big Picture of existence 
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    First of all: I want to state that I'm a de facto atheist just as the next man. But there's one question that keeps boggling my mind:

    Why do we struggle?

    Ever since Darwin's "Origins of Species" and "Survival of the Fittest", struggle (or survival) is the key phenomenon that made the species the way they are today. However, what metaphysical law justifies the survival of the fittest?

    In other words: why is survival of the fittest introduced in the universe? Let's say it all started with the big bang and the chemical particles, compositions and radioactivity which were derived thereof. When we take a huge leap to the beginning of life on earth, we see that from the very start the species were competing each other. So instead of just being there as chemical compositions, they started to struggle for survival. What "force" gives them this characteristic? And why is it considered necessary by it?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Masters Degree Twit of wit's Avatar
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    There is no "survival of the fittest".


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  4. #3 Re: Why do we struggle? Survival in the Big Picture of exist 
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    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    First of all: I want to state that I'm a de facto atheist just as the next man. But there's one question that keeps boggling my mind:

    Why do we struggle?

    Ever since Darwin's "Origins of Species" and "Survival of the Fittest", struggle (or survival) is the key phenomenon that made the species the way they are today. However, what metaphysical law justifies the survival of the fittest?

    In other words: why is survival of the fittest introduced in the universe? Let's say it all started with the big bang and the chemical particles, compositions and radioactivity which were derived thereof. When we take a huge leap to the beginning of life on earth, we see that from the very start the species were competing each other. So instead of just being there as chemical compositions, they started to struggle for survival. What "force" gives them this characteristic? And why is it considered necessary by it?
    Logically, that which persists... well it persists. "Survival of the fittest" (with fitness meaning fit to a set of selective pressures) extends from that. The stuff that either innately persists or which does not yet struggles to perpetuate itself is found with greater frequency than that which does not.

    If you want to ask why that is, well that's a pretty hard one to answer.
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    My question would be this then: Why does it want to perpetuate itself? Why can't it just be there for a while and collapse eventually, instead of reproducing (and competing)?
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    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    My question would be this then: Why does it want to perpetuate itself? Why can't it just be there for a while and collapse eventually, instead of reproducing (and competing)?
    Sometimes it doesn't. I'm not sure why you're struggling with this to be honest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    My question would be this then: Why does it want to perpetuate itself? Why can't it just be there for a while and collapse eventually, instead of reproducing (and competing)?
    Determinism. There is no such thing as "wanting" to do something. For example, a dog reproduces because of instinct, they are like biological robots. All their instincts come hardwired into their brains.
    "Doubt is the origin of Wisdom" - Rene Descartes
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    Forum Masters Degree Twit of wit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waveman28
    Determinism. There is no such thing as "wanting" to do something. For example, a dog reproduces because of instinct, they are like biological robots. All their instincts come hardwired into their brains.
    You think you are a robot?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    You think you are a robot?
    Well, that's a slightly different discussion. My point here is that animal species and other forms of life don't "want" to do things, they just do them because they are hardwired to do so.
    "Doubt is the origin of Wisdom" - Rene Descartes
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  10. #9 Re: Why do we struggle? Survival in the Big Picture of exist 
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    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    First of all: I want to state that I'm a de facto atheist just as the next man. But there's one question that keeps boggling my mind:

    Why do we struggle?

    Ever since Darwin's "Origins of Species" and "Survival of the Fittest", struggle (or survival) is the key phenomenon that made the species the way they are today. However, what metaphysical law justifies the survival of the fittest?

    In other words: why is survival of the fittest introduced in the universe? Let's say it all started with the big bang and the chemical particles, compositions and radioactivity which were derived thereof. When we take a huge leap to the beginning of life on earth, we see that from the very start the species were competing each other. So instead of just being there as chemical compositions, they started to struggle for survival. What "force" gives them this characteristic? And why is it considered necessary by it?
    there seems to be struggle because nature doesn't care about efficiency on a higher level. Nature loves to say: let there be waste!

    Why produce 2 offspring to replace two adults when you can generate a million! Seems awfully wasteful but it works nicely. And the result is that there is seemingly a struggle present when viewed with human eyes.

    Nature would call it a process, that is, if nature could speak and think. Of course it can't.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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    Let me approach the question from another (deeper) direction. After the Big Bang three basic elements were introduced: hydrogen, helium and lithium. Then you had a series of combinations and reactions, eventually starting life on earth. It begun with unicellular creatures reproducing/duplicating theirselves.

    So basicly the process of reproduction can be considered as a mere chemical process in the long run. Species being determined, as Waveman28 mentionned, to reproduce themselves without questioning it. I totally agree with that. I'm also positive about it being a process of nature, as spuriousmonkey puts it. But why is this process (of reproduction) introduced in the universe?

    I'll use a raindrop to illustrate my question. A raindrop hits the ground. Eventually it will dry up under certain circumstances. So the raindrop didn't reproduce itself, and even when the circumstances would allow it and giving it time to maintain (reproduce) itself, it still wouldn't. Now one remark could be: a raindrop doens't consist of "living" matter, eventhough it's derived from the same three basic elements as "living" creatures / chemical compositions do (being hydrogen, helium and lithium through the Big Bang).

    So when you put the raindrop and a living cell next to each other, the first won't reproduce, the second will. What basic chemical law says: when you combine certain chemical elements, you get something (a cell for instance) that will duplicate itself? And for what universal reason?

    Maybe science hasn't found an answer yet - I have no idea, and that's why I'm asking it here. Maybe some of you could provide or cite a scientific answer to this question, since I haven't found anything myself so far. Maybe you've already answered that in your very first reply, Biologista: "If you want to ask why that is, well that's a pretty hard one to answer." Maybe science hasn't figured that out yet. That's why I'm posting it in the "New hypotheses and Ideas"-section, because I feel it goes beyond the evolution theory.

    It may look like I'm struggling with this, but I feel like it may ultimately counter the alleged existence of a godlike universal alpha conscience (I know it takes more than science and hard evidence to convince religious people of their ideas being erroneous though :) ).

    Maybe I sound like a raging madman, but I feel like there must be a logic explanation for why certain chemical elements duplicate themselves. Is it possible to find the answer in physics, or do we have to go one step further, like the field of mathematics?
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  12. #11  
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    I think you are struggling with a pretty retarded question, not a deeper one, and the answer is pretty clear if you let go of you biased notion that chemical/physical laws have any relevance.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  13. #12 Re: Why do we struggle? Survival in the Big Picture of exist 
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    So you could take a religious person seriously if he would say:

    there seems to be struggle because God doesn't care about efficiency on a higher level. God loves to say: let there be waste!

    Why produce 2 offspring to replace two adults when you can generate a million! Seems awfully wasteful but it works nicely. And the result is that there is seemingly a struggle present when viewed with human eyes.

    God would call it a process, that is, if God could speak and think. Of course he can't.
    Different subject, same message imo: there's no explanation for this phenomenon called reproduction. It's like that, no questions asked - it's irrelevant.. So we still don't know why nature ("God") wants it this way, just because the answer is not clear at all. You seem to talk about massive reproduction. I know that this is a successful form of reproduction, but that is not the point of this topic. It's not about quantity, it's about the question why.

    P.S.: I don't mean to be offensive, I'm just challenging your reply. Or it's me being helpless with your replies, or it's you (and maybe science altogether) being helpless with this retarded question. Of which I don't think is retarded at all, because if it would be; trust me, this topic wouldn't be here. I've been looking around first myself.
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  14. #13 Re: Why do we struggle? Survival in the Big Picture of exist 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    So you could take a religious person (or pantheist for that matter) seriously if he would say:

    there seems to be struggle because God doesn't care about efficiency on a higher level. God loves to say: let there be waste!

    Why produce 2 offspring to replace two adults when you can generate a million! Seems awfully wasteful but it works nicely. And the result is that there is seemingly a struggle present when viewed with human eyes.

    God would call it a process, that is, if God could speak and think. Of course he can't.
    Different subject, same message imo: there's no explanation for this phenomenon called reproduction. It's like that, no questions asked - it's irrelevant.. So we still don't know why nature ("God") wants it this way, just because the answer is not clear at all. You seem to talk about massive reproduction. I know that this is a successful form of reproduction, but that is not the point of this topic. It's not about quantity, it's about the question why.

    P.S.: I don't mean to be offensive, I'm just challenging your reply. Or it's me being helpless with your replies, or it's you (and maybe science altogether) being helpless with this retarded question. Of which I don't think is retarded at all, because if it would be; trust me, this topic wouldn't be here. I've been looking around first myself.
    no, religious people base their shit upon shit.

    i just explained a process.

    not the same.

    If you think it is then you are full of wishful thinking.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by teapot

    I'll use a raindrop to illustrate my question. A raindrop hits the ground. Eventually it will dry up under certain circumstances. So the raindrop didn't reproduce itself, and even when the circumstances would allow it and giving it time to maintain (reproduce) itself, it still wouldn't. Now one remark could be: a raindrop doens't consist of "living" matter, eventhough it's derived from the same three basic elements as "living" creatures / chemical compositions do (being hydrogen, helium and lithium through the Big Bang).

    So when you put the raindrop and a living cell next to each other, the first won't reproduce, the second will. What basic chemical law says: when you combine certain chemical elements, you get something (a cell for instance) that will duplicate itself? And for what universal reason?
    Lets put the raindrop next to a spark, and say both are happening on a world with an atmosphere composed of Methane and Oxygen. The raindrop is basically stable. Maybe it will evaporate, but probably the vapor will re-assemble at some point to form a new raindrop and fall to the ground again. The spark will become a flame, and the flame will just keep on spreading. You could call that "replicating itself" if you want.

    A plant could be described as a special kind of spark that has found a way to devour sunlight instead of Methane and Oxygen.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    My question would be this then: Why does it want to perpetuate itself? Why can't it just be there for a while and collapse eventually, instead of reproducing (and competing)?
    Ummm..we kinda do collapse eventually. Some things perpetuate, some don't. Want to know why? Ask a philosopher. Reproduction is nothing more complex than two single cells merging (yes, a gross understatement as the process itself is complex) into one. Mindless genes present in mindless bacteria found an easy way to merge, to share nutrients to recycle and to leave a legacy. So why wouldn't they do it? Mindful animals followed suit (which makes sense as they were instructed by genes to follow suit b/c they come from bacteria) and wished to leave their own legacies in the form of cultural memes and children. The real question is: why would any organism wish to accelerate the inevitable or, by killing themselves/getting eaten early on, to obliterate their own legacy on this Earth? There are ecological reasons why we are
    here as well...consider the nitrogen and carbon cycle...one useful example is to imagine the greater amount of fertilizer produced by a cow living 20 years and shitting every other day versus one that simply dies a few years after birth... but knowing this doesn't truly explain the "why" because when we discuss ecology, we end up simply comparing and contrasting different forms of life.
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  17. #16  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    What struggle anyway? the only struggle I have in a western society is to get out of bed in the morning.

    It's not like I have to get up so I can survive. Could also just be unemployed and still eat and pay rent. (don't live in the USA).

    Struggle is a concept that is only applicable for a subset of the human population. Unfortunately for most that subset is large, fortunately for me I was born in a social welfare state.

    I do see a struggle coming up though. Greed has been on the increase for several decades. Individualism and greed are going to wreck the social welfare state to such a degree that radical chances are at hand. Maybe there will even be a war in europe again, or there will be a switch from globalization to localization with a rough transition phase.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  18. #17  
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    Thanks for the insightful replies.

    Mindless genes present in mindless bacteria found an easy way to merge, to share nutrients to recycle and to leave a legacy.
    I think it's similar to one of the replies I got on the Richard Dawkins forum:
    In an early chapter of The Selfish Gene, [Richard Dawkins] begins by noting that natural selection is a special case of the universe tending towards states which are stable. (The reason for this is obvious: changes which increase stability have more permanence to their products than those which reduce it.)
    Kojax' spark theory fits this context as well.
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