- Published on Friday, 21 January 2011 05:59
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 3785
Belief in a god provides a way of answering the question - Why do we exist? Dogs don't seem to ask themselves why do they exist - they just take life as it comes. But with a more highly evolved brain, we have learned to ask "Why" about everything around us and we have been very successful at finding answers to most questions. But we don't have a good answer to "Why are we here? Why do we exist" and for that matter "Why does the universe exist?"
Once a god was postulated and men convinced themselves it was a good theory, they then applied the "Why" question in that context. "Why would god invent the universe and why would god invent mankind?" Starting on the assumption that man is "created in God's image" and that the universe was created to "house" mankind, God is supposed to have created men to make him feel good - that is, worship Him. Why an all powerful god would want that is not explained. Does he have an inferiority complex and needs to be stroked? So the god hypothesis allows one to provide a weak answer to the "Why" question.
But without a god hypothesis, is there an answer to the question? Do we know why we exist?
First, why are we asking the question at all? Lower life forms don't; maybe chimps do although it's unlikely. The ability to ask "why" has led us to invent the concept of scientific thinking and all the advances of modern science. And even before that, it has allowed humans to dominate the ecological system. The urge to ask "why" has proved to be a beneficial trait. But not every question has an answer - at least not a satisfactory answer. For example, why are we not all as smart as the smartest human ever born? Maybe someone can answer that with a discussion about random events - but it's not very satisfying - it's not the answer we want hear.
But again, why do we want to know why we exist? I think it's because we exist in a time flow. We see ourselves being born, living a life, then dying so we have a feeling that we are going somewhere. But where is it we are going? Put another way - what is our purpose? And if we have our purpose, then that is why we exist. But this is somewhat of an illusion - whatever purpose we give ourselves is not why we were born. And the collective purposes of all humans is not why humans exist.
We were all born because that's how life evolved. Rocks don't get born - they maybe morph a bit but don't live and die. Living things grow out of other living things then die and become food - one way or another - for new living things. A dog sees that his purpose is to exist and to create more life and therefore his goal is to get food and have sex. Humans like to be more sophisticated than that but really there is no purpose that comes from outside our own existence. That's unless you believe in a god. Unfortunately, wanting something to be true, won't make it true. I want it to be true that I'll win the lottery but that's not how it works.
Since purpose and a reason for our existence do not come from outside - not from a mythical god and not from Nature or anything mystical - then that means we have tremendous flexibility and freedom to make a contribution to humanity with our life. We are not constrained by what any religion tells us. We can exist to contribute and savour life. It's our choice.