The Universe as discovered and modelled through the thought processes of modern science
is a cold and soulless place; life no more than an elaborate, self-perpetuating chemical
reaction that started some billions of years ago and which continues to this day.
From the scientist’s viewpoint you are simply a part of the latest stage of a several
billion year old process. The same is true for every individual of every organism
on this planet, from bacteria to blue whales.
Each individual of every species, from microbe to man, from algae to oak tree, is
the latest branching manifestation of the event that started as a single molecule,
a strand of nucleic acid, some billions of years back, that just happened to be able
to self-replicate; making copies of itself over and over again so that at least some
of those copies survived and made more copies.
Copy, copy and copy again and do so because you are the program whose output is a
copy of yourself. Not copy in order to survive and not copy because it is your purpose
to survive but more prosaically and completely mindlessly, copy because that is what
you do, because that is what you are - a copying machine. A copying machine that
ceases to exist if it should ever stop making copies of itself. A self-replicating
system that produces as many copies as possible because to do less would be to lessen
the chance of the program existing.
No designer is necessary, no purpose is required - this is pure logic, this is cold,
friendless, master-less matter behaving according to the laws of physics and chemistry.
For the scientist the publication of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953 and
the realisation that this could be the answer to the ‘how’ about life, that many
had searched for, provides one of those moments of beauty and awe that motivate the
whole scientific endeavour.