Why am I here? Does the universe have a purpose and does the purpose include us? “I’m not sure,” says Neil DeGrasse Tyson. “But anyone who expresses a more definitive response to the question is claiming access to knowledge not based in empirical foundations. This remarkably persistent way of thinking, common to most religions and some branches of philosophy, has failed badly in past efforts to understand and thereby predict the operations of the universe and our place within in.” So, we simply don’t know.
“We live in an uncaring universe. Any idea that it was created for our felicity must be nonsense, for each wonder to which we may point is countered by a monstrosity. To believe in the anthropic principle, that the world was created to serve us, in the face of so much suffering, is absurd, indeed it is narcissistic, even infantile.” – Peter Sellick
So how about the purpose of the human race. Does a fish or a giraffe have a purpose, other than to propagate their species? Do humans have a special place among animals and therefore have a purpose?
Well I asked my friend David King about this.
“That’s easy. In my humble opinion, the human race (species) has no purpose, nor does any other species. We alone fret about “purpose” just as we fret about life after death because our development of a complex system of symbols (language) gave us the ability to contemplate things and events beyond the immediate here and now. Another question: Why is there a universe? I haven’t a clue. Nor do I have a clue about the possibility that there is some creative force or being that’s responsible for the whole thing. Of this I am pretty sure: We are the only species that contemplates these questions. Does that make us special? I doubt it. Without language, we’d just be another great ape.”
There is more than to this of course. How about meaning? All of us are searching for meaning. Perhaps we are providing meaning to the universe rather than the universe providing meaning to us. When we see a beautiful galaxy, we are giving it meaning. Without humans it would not be beautiful. Plato might disagree in that he thought that beauty existed “apriori”; that it could be deduced without observation. I tend to believe that prior to humans, there was no beauty. We provide the meaning to the Universe.
And of course, it is a great mystery and as Joseph Campbell says the “mystery of being is beyond all categories of thought.”
In looking at these big questions about my place in the universe, my place in time, and the purpose of human race, I realize that, while providing context, it does little else. While the universe may be impersonal, we are not. As Victor Frankl says. “it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.” We each need to provide meaning and purpose to our own lives based on our personal circumstances. It is not necessary for meaning or purpose to come from outside of us.
So, do you provide purpose for your life, or is purpose beyond you?
Do you provide meaning for your life, or does meaning come from beyond you?
The picture below is a photograph of earth and moon from the rings of Saturn. Saturn is 890 million miles from earth. Multiply that by 100,000 and you still wouldn’t even get out of the Milky Way galaxy.