In an earlier post, I introduced and defined what I called the “science of purpose.” Let us take a closer look at what that entails.
The first thing to notice is that there really cannot be a science of organisms, i.e., biology, without understanding purpose. That this fact has been so neglected is, of course, a consequence of neo-Darwinism, which purports to show that purpose and design in life are only apparent, not real. Organisms that survive simply appear to be purpose-driven because those that are not driven by purpose suffer extinction as imposed by natural selection. Of course, this statement offers no explanation of how purpose-driven life arises.
Before saying why that’s the case, let us indulge in the great delight of observing the vast and ubiquitous display of purpose in the natural world that surrounds us. In biology we are dedicated to studying the behavior and physiology of all living things. Extraordinary examples of animal behavior include the 70-mile trek by some emperor penguins to feed their young, the 1,000-mile journey that sockeye salmon may navigate to return to the small stream of their birth in order to spawn and die, and the 3,000-mile annual migration of certain caribou in North America.
Yet as a physician I am equally if not more astounded by the dazzling display of goal-attainment that takes place in every human body in every second of life. Your heart has been pumping since a time about eight months before you were born. Your kidneys filter metabolic waste and retain life-sustaining fluid and electrolytes without fail and without interruption. The hemoglobin in your red blood cells procures, transports, and delivers life-giving oxygen to every corner of your body, every second of every day. And this can only happen because your lungs expand and contract, again without fail, ceaselessly, even while you sleep. Your body cannot survive outside of a very narrow range of temperatures and fluid and electrolyte concentrations. These are assiduously and jealously monitored, adjusted, and normalized. Without this oversight, your life would come to a rapid end.
Purpose is the sine qua non of life. It permeates every organism, in every ecosystem.
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