Meaning of Life

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What is the meaning of life?

The question itself is a bit poorly phrased, since we aren't just trying to define the word "life". The actual questions alluded to by the "meaning of life" are varied:

  • Where did we come from?
  • Why are we here?
  • What is the purpose of our existence?
  • How do I find personal meaning in my own life?

"Where did we come from?" is always answered by a creation story, and metaculture is no different. Science answers this question with the Big Bang theory and Evolution. However the question of "why are we here?" is often said to be outside the realm of scientific inquiry.

The notion of meaning or purpose often implies the existence of a conscious being to whom our existence is meaningful. Otherwise the answer to "why are we here?" tends to reduce to "we're here because we aren't not here". But it is possible to come up with a meaningful answer to this question without a supernatural actor given the right perspective on the issue.

We are here because the self-organizing principles of matter and logic mean that any sufficiently large mass will inevitably give rise to self-aware beings capable of asking this very question. It is the destiny of existence itself. A different universe of matter with different laws of physics might result in a totally different type of intelligent being, but that being will always arise and ask itself "why?" Either that or the alternate universe will collapse on itself before that happens and nobody will be there to ever know it ever existed in the first place.

But the important thing is that it's not the will of some supernatural being that causes us to exist, our existence is simply inevitable. But that inevitability can also be seen as the will of the divine, being carried out in the interactions of every atom in the universe.

The purpose of human existence is the pursuit of happiness and well-being. This is taught to us by our neurons and their relentless attempts to make our bodies do things that lead to survival and reproduction. Our purpose is to do what our neurons tell us to do.

Finding personal meaning is harder in a universe where no supernatural being is there to tell you what that is, but not that hard. Everyone is able to find something that inspires them, something they enjoy that makes the world a better place for themselves or those around them. It is up to each individual to find out what that is and pursue it.

For some people their work is meaningful. Others have jobs they hate but families, friends or hobbies they love. Some find meaning in charity, others in creativity. Some people are leaders, others are just doing their part to keep society running. All are capable of finding meaning and joy in life.

We have been given a gift that few clumps of matter ever receive--consciousness. The meaning of life is to make the most of it.