The survival imperative in evolution - Where does it come from?
Anyone who has ever created a computational evolution simulation, knows that not only do you need to carefully design a robust environment, a viable fitness function and just the right mix of parameter values, but also you need to explicitly impose the survival and reproduction imperative if the simulation is to actually produce artificial life rather than falling flat.
Especially in an open-ended scenario with no a-priori goal, which is of course closest to the actual situation we find ourselves in. Nothing tends to happen without artificially introducing that most fundamental driving force. Without the survival imperative, there is no life.
In most cases a simulation is explicitly oriented towards some goal (as opposed to natural selection) by hardcoding a fitness function, reproduction, mutation, and death. In other words, the cycle of life itself is not actually part of the simulated content, but an immutable ruleset established by the designer.
I think the principle of least action, as well no doubt as countless uncelebrated simulation runs the world over, would sooner suggest a dead planet than a live one.
Whether it's the individual or the gene that is subject selection, the drive to perpetuate itself has to originate from somewhere outside of itself. Survival as a goal is implicit in our DNA, but not in the chemicals that make it up. And this DNA is the product of an evolutionary process which itself needs the survival imperative to drive it. In other words, the theory suggests that the process of evolution is responsible for generating one of its own preconditions, which is obviously impossible. What gives?
If the theory of the evolution of life on earth can not explain how its most basic feature entered the scene, then I would consider that a very serious flaw in the theory. As with so many theories (actually all of them), the very foundation that makes the whole thing work appears to be sorely unaccounted for, and instead just taken for granted.