Ok, Seriously, Why Are We Here?
There have been, are, and will be plenty of discussions regarding the meaning of life. From the spiritual to the metaphysical to the clinically scientific, there is no end to the plethora of opinions about why we are here. It is something that I have been particularly interested in, as a hobby more than anything else, so I’ve come across some very interesting viewpoints that I’d like to share. None of them are likely true, as we will not ever know what our true purpose is here. But the path of discovery is like no other.
The first thing I’d like to mention is the idea of “models.” When you take a look at reality, and it behaves in ways that you simply do not understand, the human brain has this capacity for creating a working “model,” some kind of organized structure so that we can depend on it. There is something about accepting reality as some random sequence of events that is particularly unsettling on a very deep psychological level.
As man progresses through history, and we find better ways to observe and measure our reality, we come up with more detailed models of the world. A great example is that everybody used to think the world was flat. It was a largely accepted fact, until somebody sailed around the world to prove it wasn’t. Literally overnight, people rejected the flat earth model and accepted the better, more realistic round earth model.
When humans first started coming up with “stories” about how the world worked, they were surrounded by mythology and characters much like themselves. When it rained, the gods of the sky were angry, when it was sunny and warm the gods of the sky were happy. Different societies have different myths that were largely based on their predominant environmental structures.
So what are some of the basic models in our society? Let’s start with religious.
The entire universe was created by some kind of conscious, super intelligent, perhaps infinitely intelligent entity. He or She knows all that ever was, and all that will ever be, down to the minutest of details. From what your boyfriend will say to you tonight about what you decide to wear, to the very moment of your death. There has been much discussion and essays by some very smart people that elaborate exactly how it is possible for a supreme entity to know everything, while still maintaining the idea of human free will. Your boyfriend certainly can choose exactly what he is going to say about that outfit tonight, but the Creator knows exactly what he will choose.
The purpose of the creation that we live in is a mystery, and only our Creator knows the purpose, and where we are headed. Some believe that we get one shot on earth, and the rest of our eternity will be determined by how we live this one shot, while others hold to the notion of reincarnation and the ability to improve on the last go through.
This model provides for a general guideline in the form of religion, and a loving, omniscient Creator who is watching our every move and rooting for us to make the right choices.
Many of the world’s religions, whether they be mono- or poly-theistic fall under this general umbrella model of the world.
The next model is similar, but the Creator lacks a specific identity. It is more a collective of human consciousness. A nameless, faceless infinite intelligence that exists somewhere, somehow that everybody is capable of tapping into. Generally it is believed that this creative, intelligent “force” is at the heart of all “energy” that permeates all matter in the universe. This “force” is generally good, and is the underlying energy beneath all human behavior. This force is ambivalent, and behaves like natural laws. Those that know how to tap into it and maximize its live lives of unlimited abundance and happiness. Those that are either unaware of ignorant of it’s existent are destined to live lives of destitution and struggle.
Many eastern religions fall under this umbrella, as it doesn’t require a human like entity at it’s core as the creator and guardian of all that. The central, creative force is just that, a force, like the wind. You can build sail and harness it’s power, or you can curse it as it blows your leaves around, or you can be completely ambivalent.
The next and final model is the purely scientific model. This holds that there is no intelligent, creative “force” in the universe. We are merely a collection of matter that has, through the course of billions of years and measurable, repeatable, and describable physical laws, organized itself somehow into feeling and thinking creatures that can write long winded posts about the nature of its own existence on the Internet, and hope that many other like minded, self organized blobs of matter will read this and find enlightenment from it. This view doesn’t hold that our meager human minds have the capacity to even begin to understand the incredible detail and depth of all these naturally occurring physical laws. It just holds that there isn’t some “spaghetti monster’ in the sky watching our backs the whole time.
Of course, these three views are not mutually exclusive, and by no means exhaustive. There is plenty of overlap. And many times you may find yourself believing in one more so than the other two, and then out of the blue, some even, maybe random, maybe not will completely and forever change your worldview.
But regardless of where you are on the spectrum of the many theories of existence, you certainly can appreciate the fact that we are here at all, living in a time where such massive communication between people is so easy.
It is truly wonderful to be alive. I hope you feel the same.