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A public service is needed for the unlucky in love

By Brian Holden - posted Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Countless men and women who would make good parents have missed the boat because they have failed to find the right partner. Why have they failed? The reason is that for the great majority, finding the right partner is dependent on being at the right place at the right time. That is a lottery.

But biology is telling single people to stop setting yourselves up to be victims of circumstances. Biology is telling single people to accommodate your DNA’s ambitions and engage a matchmaker.

DNA has ambitions? Isn’t that taking anthropomorphism too far? Not according to the lateral-thinking biologist Richard Dawkins. He says that your body (and as a consequence your mind) is being subjugated by a molecule which has the goal to be immortal. As it could be about 500 million years old, it is doing okay so far.


But we know that there is no goal in the evolutionary process. Evolution occurs when the chance of a species’ survival is a little more than the chance of it not surviving. On the level of the individual, anything, good or bad, can happen at anytime. 

That is the very big picture. On the smaller stage there does seem to be a goal. We observe that a plant has roots, stem, leaves, and flowers purely to enable seeds to be generated. The plant seems to exist to reproduce. It may not be a goal by design, but we can imagine that there is a goal because a set path is being travelled towards an end result.

As living organisms, the same rule applies to us. You have legs, arms, eyes and ears purely to get the next generation going. Once your babies have been born and you can protect them long enough to learn to survive by themselves, your purpose in life is over. The fact that you use your legs, arms, eyes and ears to play tennis is incidental.

Looking through Dawkins’ anthropomorphic window, we can say that your DNA ‘wants’ you to stay viable long enough for it to pass from your aging body into a younger body. If you do not have children, then you need not have been born. That may not be the usual way you see your very important self - but that is the way it is.

To maximise its chances of survival, the DNA molecule is common to all living organisms. The human body just happens to be one of the many vehicles it employs. Along the DNA molecule is a string of genes. The genes are the commands that dictate if the body being built will be a two-meter high red-haired male human with a big nose or a brown and white female Fox Terrier with a bad temper.

The movement of every molecule, atom and sub-atomic particle in your body is ultimately under the direction of your DNA because that is the super molecule (composed of maybe 13 billion atoms), which occupies your every cell that has a nucleus. Thus, it builds and maintains the stage where all organic activity is played out. Even if it has no mind of its own, it still is the conductor - the big boss.


Look for DNA’s selfish tactics - and you will find them

There are very few black and white rules in biology. Mostly there are just shades of grey. There are going to be males and females who are not at all interested in parenting. However, in DNA’s ‘big statistical picture’, if there is going to be disinterest, then it is more important that less women have no interest in parenting than men, because in one day a single man can, theoretically, be the cause of up to 50 pregnancies - while a female can carry a pregnancy to term only once every nine months. Men are, thus, relatively unimportant in DNA’s ‘thinking’. So, we observe that more men are disinterested in having children than there are disinterested women.     

Homo sapiensis a highly social species of animal - but it is not to create a modern economy. The DNA-driven objective is to create a supportive community structure for babies to survive into young adulthood. It may not seem that those who maintain our mining industry are ultimately working for the survival of human DNA - but, on balance, they are. 

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About the Author

Brian Holden has been retired since 1988. He advises that if you can keep physically and mentally active, retirement can be the best time of your life.

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