It is not at all necessary to believe in “God” to hypothesize that a sentient being equipped with consciousness is destined to evolve upwards or downwards. On the contrary, life would be simply useless and illogical.
Just a physical mechanism or a process, which Science will soon fully understand. As “others” before us probably already did.
Stars alone with their multiform and transformative evolution are an instructive metaphor.
A snake shows another metaphor of this when it is molting.
Which directions Physics should aim to, in my opinion, in order to probe this big (not transcendent at all) problem?
My answer is so far: quantum physics, superstring/brane theory, particle physics, biophysics, research on DNA, neurophysiology, consciousness research, and maybe “UFO” research too.