The Selfish Gene

updated 12 April 2008

Consider a sexually reproducing species. Assume that there are ‘things’ that are passed on from parents to child, the minimal ‘thing’ must be the unit of inheritance; this is called a gene. Every sexually-reproducing organism is the product of its parents, which in turn are the products of their parents, and so on. Therefore every single member of the entire lineage of every sexually-reproducing organism excepting the most recent generation reproduced. This creates a massive bias in the genes towards motivating the individual carrying the genes into reaching the age of reproduction and successful reproduction, which is equivalent to saying that genes are hugely biased towards survival. The gene is biased towards survival, whilst the individual is biased towards reproduction. For the individual, survival is irrelevant except insofar as it affects reproduction.

Humans have evolved ‘as if’ reproduction was the sole goal for which they were ‘designed’ and everything they do is a means to that end. Our high intelligence does not allow us to transcend our genes, quite the opposite, it better equips us to use the environment to our advantage so that we are better able to achieve our ultimate goal: reproduction.