The purpose of your life doesn’t matter…REALLY???

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by Kenneth Justice

~ Sitting at coffee day after day people strike up many of the same conversations with me,

—) Kenneth, why are so many people nasty?

—) Kenneth, why do government’s seem to ignore the needs of the poor?

—) Kenneth, why are fart jokes so funny?

—) Kenneth, why does coffee taste so damn good?

However, the MOST common question that people engage me on is, “What is the meaning of our lives?

Throughout the annals of human history the meaning to life has been one of the deepest and most profound questions that men and women have grappled with in an attempt to find an all-encompassing answer. Purpose, meaning, significance, and insignificance are all profound thoughts that each of us must resolve in order to ward off the dangers of going mad.

Some people in the face of not finding a meaning to their existence have chosen suicide as the means to calm their thoughts. Well known men and women wrote about their inability to find a purpose to their life and then in their most sorrowful hour chose to kill themselves rather than live on in a life absent of meaning.

A couple nights ago I stayed up late watching a documentary about the two famous atheists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss. Dawkins, being reticent of how important the question of significance and meaning are to so many people; travels around the world giving his answer to meaning of life. Dawkins says, “The question ‘why’ is not necessary to ask….what is the purpose to the universe is a silly question, it has no meaning”.

To which I ask, “REALLY???

I was glued to the documentary and ended up rewinding quite a few sections in order to write down various quotes by the speakers. Over and over Dawkins emphatically says that there is NO meaning to life, NO meaning to the universe, NO greater purpose to your existence, and NO greater purpose to my life.

Is this where science and scientists have led us; to a life void of meaning, purpose and significance? Dawkins emphatically says, “YES!!!!”

For Richard Dawkins philosophy is a stupid endeavor (religion is beyond stupid for him, it’s downright evil). Asking questions that grapple with meaning and purpose is a waste of time and a stupid thing to do, “If you could do things by common sense, you wouldn’t need physicists” says Dawkins, the most important thing humans should do is to “abandon common sense” because “common sense distracts us from learning the truth”.

Do Dawkins and Kraus represent the majority of scientists? Is their venom and vitriol toward philosophy a normative element of the scientific experience?

Last week I received a bit of heat from people when I questioned the attitude and presumptions of many scientists; yet my questions weren’t based in wild speculations but were grounded in me listening to people like Dawkins and Krauss who despise philosophy and treat the discipline as though it is nothing more than a pile of terds sitting in the corner.

Are scientists leading us into a brave new world where philosophers are going to be stoned to death? God, I hope not. Because my skin is sensitive and I’m sure a gaggle of rocks being hurled at me is going to leave a few dents.

Time for my morning coffee,

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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54 replies

  1. If it doesn’t matter or has no meaning, why would Dawkins spend so much time talking about it? 🙂

    • Could it be because so many others, fiercely attached to their version of The Meaning, are causing so much trouble in the world? I wouldn’t say that life has NO meaning, but I will say that meaning is restricted to each conscious being, in and of itself. For humans, social beings par excellence, that includes the social body as well as the individual one. You want a meaning in your life? Look in the mirror, at your family, at your community. Why invent ghostly (often ghastly) replicas of ourselves with super powers, and call them divine?

  2. Rocks would make the flavor of the coffee meaningless! That would be a shame.

  3. Just as there are extremes in the religious, there are extremes in the non-religious. Neither extreme will win out any time soon. And if life is given no meaning at its outset, isn’t it up to us to create a meaning?

  4. Wonder if you have come across the series of movies by the title of ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’? There, prominent scientists discuss the existence of God in view of the phenomenon captured by Physics and other branches of knowledge!

  5. Without out vision people perish.

  6. No, I don’t think all science is headed in this direction. Quantum physics is “catching up” to spiritual thought/practice and simply “proving” what many have believed all along…

  7. the meaning of life is the opportunity of doing something in your life that has meaning

  8. A nice question to think about. And to debate over.

    Scientist has changed our meaning of life. whatever that may mean. Since words have lost their meaning things change.
    Today lots of people need a device to give their life meaning. but all it does is fulfil a need. A need that holds some distorted meaning.

    Common sense can be seen as an equivalent of what is none as well as a common need. But what if that were true what is the sense in having a device when we so desperately need one or else we feel not alive.

    This might be considered going overboard.

    What is the meaning of life. What is the meaning of a ladybug landing on my hand.
    What would be the meaning of money in that same hand.
    Lifeless objects seem to fulfil more needs than a lifeforms like a ladybug or butterfly.
    We do tend to give something more meaning because if fulfil a need

    What is the meaning of life if we argue over a government that does not do anything for the poor, What does it mean for that life if we instead of arguing would give them a dollar. To mean something to a life that is not our own.

    There is a lot of different meanings to be found and none of them is right, yet only some really mean something to a life other than your own.

  9. I don’t think science is heading in that direction either. My own daughter, a scientist, who is just months away from being an Osteopathic Physician is a very loving, compassionate and spiritual person, as are so many of her peers. There will always be extremists, like Dawkins. It would be sad to believe that one’s life had no meaning.

  10. May I give you my rational, scientific opinion? Dawkins is a dork who even hates Santa Claus. People who hate Santa Claus have issues and should probably just be given a juice box and nap.

    Nihilism is pretty popular these days. Some people think they’re very brave because they are allegedly going where no man has gone before and peering into the abyss without fear. Some nihilists amuse me, because if you’ve ever peeked into the abyss for real, you realize that the scary part is that you aren’t alone in there.

    • Insanitybytes, Dawkins represents the views of quite a few people, and Lawrence Krauss is a big player as well. Headlining the documentary I watched were A-list celebrities who wholeheartedly endorsed Dawkins. So regardless of whether or not he is a dork; he appears to represent a lot of big players in the Western World

    • I want to frame your words in large gold caligraphy and hang in my office. There is nothing worse than sharing the abyss with a large crowd of onlookers, taking selfies on the edge, and spilling their StarBucks Frappachino, with 39 shots of flavored corn syrup, on ones favorite hiking boots.

  11. I care more about philosophy because it tells us what to do with science.

    But also, I already know what Dawkins has said about abortion. Therefore I have decided to never to buy or recommend his books because his way leads to death.

  12. Kenneth, I do truly enjoy your writing and views. I’ve noticed a pattern of late. Your concept of science and scientists is troubling you. Was it the embracing of knowledge, resulting in our loss of Eden, that set the stage for today’s discoveries and advancements that doom us to Hell or oblivion? Is the slow elaboration of our physical world throughout history, in terms of math and science, truly represented by only two men of scoffable views? Maybe so. I think to counter the ongoing threat of knowledge and intellect we should require a creditable philosopher to head up the National Science Board and NASA. A degree or a program of study in philosophy is woefully inadequate. We need a true philosopher, one that is known for their great works in the field. The Constitution should be amended to give the same protections to philosophy as it does commerce and science. My greatest fear is every demented pervert on the planet will clamor for a position as a philosopher claiming their demented views are the great works of a thoughtful mind. Perhaps Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were great philosophers too. Dawson could learn a thing or two from them. I wonder what would evolve from a friendship between Einstein and Kant. Don’t stop now my caffienated friend. Your dialog is thought provoking and with that comes diverse views, the true means of understanding.

    • Willy, perhaps you should watch the documentary “The Unbelievers” which I referenced in my post. Dawkins and Krauss have been traveling around the world speaking in front of thousands upon thousands and telling people that science teaches us there is no meaning to life, that there is no purpose to our existence. Its not me who is saying that about science; its scientists who are preaching that message.

    • Kenneth, I don’t mean to disparage your views. I actually encourage you. No, I think Dawson and Krauss are on equal footing with those that use their position and rediculous views to generate revenue for themselves with no intent at all to benefit society in any meaningful way. But, I do agree with them on one point. Their lives and views are meaningless. But you, Kenneth, are a solid voice in this ADHD world. Write on!

  13. There’s an old favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoon hanging in my office. It starts with the two of them walking through the woods on a bright, sunny winter day. Calvin, being mesmerized by the beauty of it all, stops and gives a long dissertation questioning why mankind had chosen in the first place to sequester himself in houses and cars while living in such overpowering beauty.

    Turning to Hobbes he asks. “ That’s why I want to ask you, as a tiger, a wild animal close to nature, what you think we’re put on earth to do . . . What’s our purpose in life? Why are we here?”

    Hobbes thinks for a moment, smiles, raises his arms in the old Italian gesture and replies, “We’re here to devour each other alive.” then he walks away.

    Calvin watches Hobbes leave, looks straight ahead at the viewer, looks up at the sky. Then he makes a beeline for his house where he fearfully turns up all his lights and raises the heat in hopes of alleviating the fear instilled by Hobbes choice wording.

    I have always loved that cartoon cause it shows so well and so simply the struggle each of us every day must make to stay alive in this very chaotic and cruel environment we find ourselves in.

  14. “However, the MOST common question that people engage me on is, “What is the meaning of our lives?”

    That is so awesome. Seriously. The most common question people tend to engage me on is, “are you insane?” 😉

  15. Very interesting documentary “The Unbelievers” science and religion will always debate.
    Kenneth,” you should have the privilege to have a brain” I like this one 😀

  16. If our life has no meaning then Richard Dawkins has no meaning. 🙂

    I laugh when I hear Dawkins say he’s not an extremist…yeah, right. Does anyone actually believe that? Ben Stein had a great interview with him in his movie documentary, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” You can see the whole thing on YouTube.

    I agree with praw27’s comments. I think science and faith are actually converging. There’s really no need for the two to butt heads (I think they will do so for non-scientific reasons, though). But traditional Christian interpretations of the Bible may need to improve in some areas. Advancement in quantum physic and microbiology are revealing a lot about what even Christians doubted or didn’t know about the invisible realm and dark matter, etc.

    My favorite astrophysicist is Dr. Hugh Ross (Reasons.org). I just referenced him in my recent post about the young earth vs. old earth debate. If you haven’t done so, you should check him out. He’s been in some great debates with major atheists and skeptics. Lots of videos on YouTube by him also,

  17. I don’t think scientist can lead us to a brave new world. Anything they “discover” isn’t really a discovery at all but more of an insight into the wonders from our God.

    As with religious zealots, every group has its own extremists. I admire the discipline of philosophy because it requires a deeper level of thought. It makes the brain hurt as it pulls you away from what and into why. I think you’re safe for now. I enjoyed reading this over my afternoon coffee.

    Why does coffee taste so good? (;

  18. I don’t think it is totally absurd to think life has no meaning. It is not a popular notion but if it has no truth to it then what is the meaning of life? No one can answer that question. You can make up your own meaning and believe it is the meaning to your life but it will not be true for everyone. To be honest, most things people think are meaningful are meaningless.

    To say that life is meaningless though is also saying that you know it all. Who knows what the whole point of existing and evolving is for. Just because we cannot imagine a purpose to life that is bigger than us doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

  19. I would think that it would be awfully boring to believe as Dawkins does . . . the suicide rate would truly go through the roof. Why work? Why create? Why do anything worth while? VERY shallow thinking on Dawkins part

    Dawkins must be very unhappy IF he actually believes what he says he believes. (Course it could be his schtick to being know.)

    I don’t claim to know the “meaning” for anyone but myself, but I AM certain as to why I have incarnated into this existance. . . although at times the particulars evade me . . . .

  20. It’s not scientists, but philosophers, that may be prompted to stone me to death. It thoughts, not facts or scientific theories, that causes societal upheaval. Sometimes good, and sometimes horrific.

  21. Wow, what a chat this is!

    My thinking is that we all have bias’ and asking questions, followed by looking for answers, helps us sought through whether or not those bias’ have any value, truth etc. or not.

    Scientists, philosophers, psychologists, politicians, faith-walkers, bloggers, writers of all kinds, children, sometime adults…think about stuff, ask questions and seek answers. I think these people can help themselves and anyone who listens to recognise, remove, prevent our prejudices from becoming extremisms – destroying relationship and community (theses being the meaning in my life, vertically and horizontally).

    Probably shouldn’t mention this because I can’t remember who said it, but; I heard an interview with a scientist who said that their search for answers and explanations actually led then to find a Creator/Designer God. I think quantum physics and philosophy can be part of that journey.

    Journey…a long path, with many at different points, and on different sides, or in the middle of that path – and some have jumped ship and are just in the grass, gravel, water courses beside.

    I need another coffee!

  22. The meaning of life is to simply live it. That’s it for me. Don’t need anything else. What more could there possibly be? I don’t want to be remembered or special…I just want to live my life. Period.

  23. to live our whole lives WITH/FOR some purpose in mind . . . while, as a whole there is none at all . . . is illogical, as all hell, thought.

    Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything I personally do in my every day life that has no purpose at all . . . even if it’s just sitting back on my rocker on my porch and smoking a joint there is purpose involved . . .

    Granted much of who, what, where, when, and why we are is a mystery . . . and solving this mystery is a lot easier to accomplish if we just deny it (or worship it)

    Embrace the mystery as it is and relax, whether we believe in Santa or not the gifts appear at the proper time . . .

  24. Although I disagree with the ones telling our lives have no meaning, it is not because I don’t understand what they really mean. A Buddhist saying goes:” the secret of life is that there is no secret.” But the danger lies to the mass audience they gained that have not yet built a philosophy of life, about the small simple meaningful things that constitute our daily life or the big mysteries that govern the world. And all of the sudden a man with experiences that might justify his sayings, presents his philosophy of the world. There lies the mistake. He doesn’t teach, he preaches. He doesn’t reveal through a series of experiences his point about “life has no meaning”. He doesn’t even explain it in a logical fashion. In that case he would bore his young audience to death and they would be saved.

  25. To say there is no meaning seems a bit extreme, but perhaps the only meaning in the universe is to exist, to live. Certainly those can be as great of a purpose as any other.

  26. I don’t think there is any meaning to anything other than what a thinking being (person) assigns.
    The meaning of life (our life) is what we want it to be. I hope my life has had some meaning to my friends, my family, others who I’ve interacted with. I hope my activities while I’ve been around have had some positive effect on the world.
    Do I think my life has any other meaning than that? NO. I don’t believe in any ‘higher purpose’ or any kind of supernatural god(s). I think religion and belief in the supernatural is used much too often as a cop out. I wish more people were atheists. 😉

  27. Ok. So, I watched it. They had many very valid points, but rather came off as bullies. The way they henpecked that cardinal was just rude. I can respect people’s beliefs, without necessarily agreeing. It seems to me that the Catholic Church is starting to try to progress, at least. We just need to stop worrying about dogma, and focus on problem solving. I think these guys are disgusted with the atrocities committed in the name of religion, but getting the religious nuts in an uproar by being religiously non-religious is not necessarily a solution.

  28. Yesterday, my daughter and I shared a some German liver sausage. Health wise, this sausage is everything you should not have in your diet. High fat, salt, carcinogens, all the things that science says will kill you. The flavor was pungent and pronounced. Your taste buds can get a work out from such an experience. My daughter loved it and it was a chance for me to share an experience with her that I might have missed otherwise.

    The cult of science breaks life down into it’s component parts. All this is good to a certain extent. They can show us good ways to live. But such an existence is bland and flavorless.

    The things that add richness to our lives serve a great purpose. They make life worth living. I wouldn’t trade moments like that with my children for anything in the world. But if all I had were moments like that, disaster would follow. (I mean realistically, too much fatty rich food can kill you. Too much of anything can kill you.)

    Find the balance between the two. Steal those moments when you can. These are the things that not only make life worth living but allow you to stay strong as you live your life.

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