Friday, April 22, 2011

Predefined Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of life? Perhaps a better question is, “Is there a meaning to life?” Some people think the meaning of life is to accept and believe that there is a God who created you and takes a personal interest in you. And he made you solely so that he would have someone that believes in him. Atheists are often asked, “What is your meaning for life?” As Richard Dawkins says, just because something can be worded in the form of a question, does not mean it deserves an answer. His rebuttal to the question is another question, “Why are all unicorns hollow?” This may not make sense on its face, but here is his reasoning for the question:

“It is a tedious cliché (and, unlike many clichés, it isn't even true) that science concerns itself with how questions, but only theology is equipped to answer why questions. What on Earth is a why question? Not every English sentence beginning with the word 'why' is a legitimate question. Why are unicorns hollow? Some questions simply do not deserve an answer. What is the color of abstraction? What is the smell of hope? The fact that a question can be phrased in a grammatically correct English sentence doesn't make it meaningful, or entitle it to our serious attention. Nor, even if the question is a real one, does the fact that science cannot answer it imply that religion can.” –Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

This is an interesting idea. Why must there be a meaning to life and a purpose to why are we here. I think, at the most basic level, the meaning of our lives is no different from the meaning of any other living creatures’ life in the larger scale, in the sense that the meaning is to reproduce and survive. I absolutely don’t think that there was some, superior to human, being that set in motion events that would in time create me, and that this being had a specific reason for me in particular. Beyond survival and reproduction, you are the only one that can decide what the greater meaning of life is for yourself, even when others try to impose their meaning unto you, it doesn’t mean it is your meaning to life. As an example, a slave master may think the reason of the lives of his slaves is to do hard manual labor for no pay. If you were a slave on the other hand, this does not mean that it is actually your meaning to life. No matter if what you think you’re here to accomplish is obtained or not, the fact is that this idea is your meaning to your life. It is what you perspire to and hopefully will achieve.

There is no reason that this meaning must be static throughout your life. Most people’s idea for their lives drastically changes at least several times throughout their lifetime. My personal reason of life is to (hopefully) have a positive influence on humanity. While this is perhaps an unattainable goal, it is still what I strive for. My rule of which to live my life by is to do whatever makes me happy as long as what I do does not interfere with someone else’s ability to do whatever makes them happy.

If you believe that God put you on this earth for the sole, predefined purpose of believing in him and alerting others to his existence, then I ask you, “Why is he unable to do this himself? He is God, isn’t he? Why does he hide every facet of his existence, but then tells a few people that he indeed does exist, and he created them and they must tell this to the rest of the world so that he doesn’t have to send the vast majority of his creation to hell?” This makes no sense, especially to a non-believer, but it’s hard for me to even comprehend how any intelligent person can get past this conundrum with logic. The answer most likely is that they cannot get past it with logic, and that is why they are forced to turn to faith and fear of eternal torment in order to go beyond this challenge.

If there were a universal meaning of life it would have to be to survive and reproduce. Because any species that doesn’t have a strong drive to reproduce and keep its self from dying, is unlikely to be a species for long. That’s it. It is unlikely that any intelligent species would come into existence with a predefined intelligent meaning to life. Like I said earlier, this does not negate them from being able to decide on a meaning for their lives after the fact. And it seems, most likely, that this is what happens, even if the attempts to understand a meaning makes them invent a super natural deity and pretend that such a deity created them with such and such a meaning of life in mind.

The idea that life needs a meaning in order to control our moral judgements is a faculty of the mind that evolved over a great many thousands of years. To decide that there is no predefined ‘meaning’ to life does not imply that we lack a set of principles for building a moral system, or that there is no reason to live. Just as life goes on without a god, so too do people without a predefined meaning to their life.

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