During the early part of my adult life, I was convinced that there was meaning to life, a higher power whose existence would reveal the meaning of life. Like most Americans, my search for meaning began with Christianity. Others were finding meaning at church, why not me? It soon became apparent that while some had found the meaning to life within the secure tenants of faith, it seemed I would not be one of those. Next in line was Nature. A few trips to the backcountry and I was convinced that finding the meaning to life was achieved by worshipping Nature! Well, that ended with too many bowls of granola and too many hippie festivals. Although I did learn that many of the hippies I met were studying Eastern Religions. Well, those religions had no more answers than the first religion, they were just different wrappings on the same old empty box!
Other attempts have included: extreme exercise, transcendental meditation, academic aspirations, cult worship, mathematical theorems, invocations of magick, etc. etc. Yet, not of these lived up to it's reputation, and I was always left feeling exactly the same as when I had started my journey.
Life continued along as it does, and I soon found myself taking a biology course at the local community college, never dreaming that this one little decision, would ultimately lead me right into the meaning of life! As a matter of study, we covered the usual introductory topics such as cell structure, genetics, heredity, etc. I discovered that I really liked biology, and began to read as much as possible. One of the books I read along the way was "The Selfish Gene".
Your book changed my view of everything: life, biology, the universe, science, religion, even parental love of a child. I began to see the truth for the very first time: that the answer to the age old question as to the meaning of life was not to be found. Humans are looking for something that is not there. By reading your book, I came to realize that there is no "Meaning of Life". No "Higher Purpose". No "Almighty Creator". We humans are quite simply the end product of millions of years of evolution. Nothing more than small ripple in an endless stream of genetic undercurrents. One skirmish in a timeless battle of molecular tug-of-war! To think that there is any more to life than that is simply mental fidgeting.
I was free of the burden of meaning for the first time. I could see the world clearly for what it was. My search was over, but another was beginning. I realized that without a so-called "Purpose In Life", I was free to choose whatever I wanted that purpose to be. Being the simple assemblage of reproducing genetic molecules that I am, it was now clear that I could choose any 'purpose' I wanted.
With all this in mind, it seems that the only way for living beings to achieve immortality, is to focus all our efforts on dispersing our DNA into the universe like willows seeds being released into the wind. Perhaps the Christians are somewhat correct about "The Rapture'... that "souls" will be lifted up into heaven! We need to immediately concentrate our collective intelligence on determining how to preserve the immortal DNA molecule on a trip across the solar system: encased in steel and glass? How would the DNA be released once a suitable environment was found? Rust via water? Whose DNA would be selected to make the journey? Maybe DNA is simply trying to reach the far ends of the universe... and we are simply the 'survival machines' destined to help them achieve this goal!
Would viral DNA/RNA be included in these 'space capsules'? By our current understanding of the definition of life, viruses don't make the cut. In other words, they do not meet the criteria that we use to define a living organism. Yet, their actions seem rather "life-like", and they rely on living things to multiply and thrive. In fact, research has shown that endogenous retro-viral DNA is directly responsible for the creation of the human placenta... which, as we know, is the key to helping humans develop large thinking brains!!
So, in closing, I would just like to say thanks you for shedding light on so many of my questions, and for inspiring many more.