Sunday, August 26

The Meaning Of Life

- or -
The Myth of Individual Importance

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but it can change forms.

You are not important. This is the harshest reality, the most difficult to accept, and the reason God was invented.

Existence is all that matters. No philosophy of good versus evil , no definition of being can change that. We are important because we believe ourselves to be. To believe otherwise is antithetical to the progression of our generation, the acceptance that something other is worthy to replace us. We must believe the ineffectual scrabbling of our lives has some value, otherwise there is nothing to promise our progeny, nothing to to help us carve out our territory against the unending armies of other life forms, known or unforeseen, that seek to overwhelm us with their own insatiable claim of supremacy.

To paraphrase Carl Sagan, there are those who ask where the universe came from. There are those who reply the universe came from God. Where did God come from? God always was. Why not save a step and say the Universe always was? I interpret this to mean: Why must existence hinge on something we can identify? Why must we understand everything? Can we not use our intelligence to say some things are beyond the grasp of that intelligence? Is it not hubris and conceit and defeat to demand otherwise?

Is it so horribly inconceivable to be unimportant? Is it not beautiful and natural to be a link in the Universe's undefined, unyielding, and unfathomable chain? Can we not accept that all things, from individuals to species to stars, die? Can we not accept that those deaths are transformations separate from our miniscule beliefs and attempts to assign meaning?

I return to the physical "law" described at the start. Just as with the death of a tree in the forest, our world and our sun will fall to nourish that which comes after. In this way we are immortal. We have no say in what we may bring about. We are unimportant, but that does not detract from the grandeur of continuance, of our place in it. This is the acknowledgment of things greater than ourselves. It is our evolution. It is our salvation.

After his death Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, was asked: "Didn't (he) want to believe?" She responded, "He didn't want to believe. He wanted to know." *

What benevolent deity would deny us knowledge? It is like a dessert promised after a meal we can't eat. Why would s/he impart that knowledge only after we are dead? Wouldn't that knowledge be best put to use while we are alive? If the answer is "Yes," than God, whatever you perceive it to be, is be a cruel and sadistic taskmaster. If we cannot believe the latter, then the former must also be disbelieved. This is the atheist's denial of the existence of God. It is not disbelief, it is acknowledgement of the fundamental workings of the universe independent of belief.

What comes after? What will happen tomorrow? How long will we be remembered? It does not matter. We cannot control the answers to these questions, so the weaker of us devise scenarios that please them, that placate the deep but distasteful knowledge that we will be forgotten.

The meaning of life is simply this: There is no meaning. We are infinitely unimportant. Everything just is.

Everything, of which we are part, exists and continues.

* Some will question my references to Carl Sagan. What makes my respect for his thoughts different from Biblical quotes? Each of us finds truth expressed in another great thinker's words. One invites acceptance, rejection, or revision. The other demands adherence or refutation of any other claim as false or suspect. Which is more reasonable?


rennratt said...

I won't pretend to have any answers to your questions.

However, they were fascinating to read.

I know very little about Carl Sagan, so I enjoyed the insight.

Bobo the Wandering Pallbearer said...

Amen, brother!

Biff Spiffy said...

Howdy KF,

I read this last week and you got me thinking. I appreciate you writing this, it's good to see real questions and thoughts.

Can't say I agree, I posted a response if you're interested.