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Updated on February 26, 2013
The earth,  the water, the sky, the universe.
The earth, the water, the sky, the universe.

The Meaning and Non-Meaning of Life

Having been a very active contributor to the Forum section of HubPages over the past 3 months, I have come to realize that most hubbers have strong feelings, about God's existence or non-existence, man's accidental or non-accidental appearance along the string of earthly life, and the universe's begining or non-begining.

Roughly speaking, I could categorize writers on HubPages under the banner of BELIEVERS and NON-BELIEVERS, i.e. in separations of the human from the divine, in questions of humanity's part in the "grand scheme" of things, and in conclusions of the beginning and the ending of the universe.

I have had quite a time of it, so far, getting entangled with fellow hubbers who do not share my view of (1) God's transcendental existence which is as real to me as gravity's consequential presence, (2) Man's evolutionary creation, via the construction of all that is contained in the material universe, (3) the perspicacious connectedness of God-Universe-Man.

In the HubForum I titled The Universe and the Meaning of Life, I asked::: If, as is suggested by astro-physicist, the universe had its begining after the Big Bang (with the exact nature of what or who initiated it still up for a lot of conjecture), the questions needs to be asked-- Did the cascading events that emanated from the Big Bang that then ultimately led to life ( on earth, in the case of humans) have any direction, meaning or purpose beyond the happenstance and haphazard formation of "matter"?

If true, does man's existence on earth have any meaning or purpose beyond the material? Is man's creation (via the evolutionary process) no more than a "happy"(?)/"freakish"(?) ending to the unintentional mixing of atoms, that became molecules, that then spontaneously grouped together to become cells, then individual organs, then organ-systems that make up the human body?

If man's existence does not go beyond the material and the physical, then why even develop a multi-faceted, multi-layered organ (the human brain) of such complexity that it has made him a sentient, volitional, and creating being?

If the universe exist just for the sake of existing, why did its fomation led to the creation of an entity (humans) that is capable of being aware that he and a universe that sorrounds him exist?

Questions, that none of the non-believing hubbers could answer with any degree of assuredness and certainty. One argued that the topic of "The Universe" and "The Meaning of Life" should be tackled separately, because he thought that there is just no connection between the two, i.e. one does not need to understand the visible and non-visible workings of the universe to be able to put meaning and purpose into one's life. To which I agreed heartily, but with the added proposition that since humans are made up of "stardust" ( Carl Sagan's contribution to human thought) shouldn't it be reasonable for them to instinctually "reach" for the stars, trying mightily to untangle the mystery that is the universe? Another argued that man's presence on earth is akin to that of an accidental tourist that just happened to hitch a ride on a planet that just happened to be located in an area of the universe that he termed the "Goldilock Zone".

So the debate rages on. And what about this question: Should philosophical /spiritual thought and scientific empiricism find a common ground, so as to speak a common language when debating these issues? From the purely philosophical point of view, comes this quote from the novelist John Updike: "Ancient religion and modern science agree----we are here to give praise, or to slightly tip the expression, to pay attention. Without us, physicists who have embraced the anthropic principle tell us, the universe would be unwitnessed, and in a sense not there at all. It exists, incredibly, because of us. This formulation(knowing what we know of the universe's extent) is more incredible, to our sense of things, than the Old Testament situation of a God willing to suffer, coddle, instruct and even (in the book of Job) to debate men, in order to realize the meager benefit of worship, or praise for His creation. What we certainly have is our instinctive intellectual curiosity about the universe from the quasars down to the quarks, our delight and wonder at existence itself, and an occasional surge of sheer blind gratitude for being here."

On the other side of the chasm is this essay from an empiricist, the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould:" We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin antomy that could transform into legs for terrestial creatures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dinosaurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise available; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a tenuous specie, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a "higher" answer-- but none exists. This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We can not read the meaning of life passively in the face of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves--from our own wisdom and ethical sense. there is no other way."

My answer to the same question that the Updike and Gould tried to answer in their respective essays is simple enough:We are here because our spiritual essence (souls) were allowed to inhabit a material body so as to exist in a material world. where we are going is to the same place from whence we came from... the spiritual realm where the Divine resides. Now this answer may be anathema to some, a little bit more convincing to others, but to me, as truthful as the unconditional love God has for all of us.


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    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 4 years ago from Palm Springs

      Hello Beth:

      Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate you sharing and agreeing to what my post and the subsequent response from some of the hubbers were saying.

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      Shared. :)

    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 7 years ago from Palm Springs

      Hello k@ri:

      Thanks for your very insightful comments that obviously came from your heart. As I have told other hubbers, our hearts should be where our souls are also. That is an obvious reference to the idea that man is not purely physical/emotional(heart), but also spiritual/ethereal(soul).

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      I love my man, lxxy...He showed me your hub! I enjoyed this hub greatly. I've only had the time to follow one link and comment, but I'll be back to see who else you recommend.

      I must say I agree with both of you. And in each of your words, I read the same message. We are not, as a society, fulfilling our real...what is that word...function...meaning...reason...purpose? Maybe one of those. They are just words, words that can be misunderstood, but our hearts and souls connect.

      I rejoice every time I find another I can connect to. Once I thought I was so very, very different from everyone else. Then I found the internet...specifically HubPages...and I found connections all over. (I used to think the internet was only for research.) :D

      I have a very personal relationship with my God. I don't know that I believe in this power the same way as anyone else. However, I think that my relationship is similar to many other's similar that when I speak of it they can relate and understand.

      I have found out that I am not as different as I thought. But at times I feel different because it is so hard to communicate the joy I feel...the joy of being alive. Life is not easy, but it is sooo wonderful.

      I do not believe that we are just a fluke...I am not always sure what exactly I believe, but fluke has no place. And yes, we, due to our higher functioning consciousnesses, we are special. But not special in that we deserve more than other species...just special in our greater level of responsibility. We can change the world...but I do not believe that it is only our playground. There are more kids here than just our family.

      I do believe that some of us humans have more responsibility than others to show love to the world. We who believe that we can live with acceptance with (and from) others. We who can respect another point of view, listen to it, and seriously think about it, and decide...using conscious thought...if it is for us or not. And understand that we each have a right to our own point of view.

      Even though we each have a right to our own point of view, I do not believe we have the right to elevate ourselves above others. We are all of the same family... Homo sapiens. And our family has many neighbors on this planet. At the moment, we are all in this together.

      Each of us is unique...we cannot think alike, but we can think together. We can learn to understand each other...that doesn't have to mean we like each other, but respect and civility are a must.

      We are "stardust" made physical...that is a miraculous thing! Yes, our animal instincts will control us if we do not learn how to control ourselves...we are just a giant chemical reaction...but isn't it the most glorious reaction ever? And then our minds, our memories, our thought...pretty much the same chemical reaction coming out with all these different results! It blows my mind! :D

      Anyway, I didn't mean to write such a long comment. It's just that this is something I think about often. :D


    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 7 years ago from Palm Springs

      Hello Ixxy:

      In another hub I titled Dignitas--Veritas, I discussed the moral and ethical relativism that has pervaded human culture/society over the past half-century, so I totally agree with you about human's obsession with money, power, fame.

      From the purely anatomic-biologic point of view, I would agree with you that there is nothing "special" about humans... what I would argue though, is the fact that among all the animate entities/beings on earth, humans are the only ones with the intellectual curiosity, temerity, perspicacity, to imagine, and in the process of imagining, to try reach for what is not merely physical but also for the spiritual.

      The bioligic functions that I enumerated, I don't consider "gifts", but rather, necessities for our species (and any other animate species) survival.

    • lxxy profile image

      lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Hello Mr. Villarasa...

      I would like to refute the nihilistic claim. I'm more of a cynic--which, despite a connotation of negativity, isn't. I simply reject the ideas of money, power, and fame. These are unnatural, man-made.

      Do you believe they are reflections of God?

      I don't see God in an iPad (although its really clever! All those little circuits...) but its rather easy to look out over the ocean and see the splendor of creation and evolution.

      I don't contend that your life is all physical, but I still do not believe you're special.

      Semantics, I suppose.

      But I don't mean to depress you and devalue your sense of self, and I'm sorry that I may have.

      But as a you not see the miracle in the human body? Or, for that matter, so many other species? You mention all of these physical attributes--eating, excretion, if they were just happenstance, and not a gift.

      We're both curious creatures.

      Turning inwards, to find that common thread..that state where you and I, and all else is but "one." Yes? Or am I off?

      Anyway, enough blathering. I've probably taken too much of your time. I truly respect you, my friend. Thank you for your reply--which I might add--less scathing than my original comment. You deserve a medal of patience.



    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 7 years ago from Palm Springs

      Hello Ixxy: I don't share your nihilistic view of humanity. Granted that humans have deep flaws, but to think that man's existence can not be constructed and interpreted beyond the physical and material, beyond the biologic need to breath, sleep, eat, defecate, urinate, and procreate is somehow dispiriting. I'd like to think that our specie (of which you are a member) have greater purpose which the other species on earth "decided"(?) not to pursue further( your words not mine). I'm not sure if that decision was made after discussing amongst themselves the sheer futility and the insanity of trying to understand what that higher purpose could be. I'd like to think that the reason for it is their lack of neuronal connections that might (in fact in humans, they do) allow them to become interested in trying to understand what it is that makes them what and who they are.

    • lxxy profile image

      lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      I'm sorry, I probably worded the first part wrong. I apologize. What I meant to say is that animals either are innocent--and therefore should be cherished--or they're so intelligent, they figured out ways to work with what they've been given and decided "that's enough."

      You and I both feel that greater "force." I just have not found it to be a mutually exclusive club for homo sapiens.

      You understand time and space, and that this is all just a shell. You're right: make the most out of your existence! Just don't step on every other living thing.

      Cherish the children, the innocence.

    • lxxy profile image

      lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Any degree of confidence? Hmm..many animals understand death. They're not hampered by your notions of "the universe." Sorry, it's not a special notion--a fluke? Maybe.

      Your species isn't special. You do have more responsibility to protect all life, because you can. But even mother earth or cosmic events would wipe you out.

      The illusion that you're somehow greater, separate, distinct, is really going to keep dragging humanity down until you stop kidding yourselves.

    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 7 years ago from Palm Springs

      If you can telll me with any degree of confidence that our nearest so called "relatives", the bonobo chimpanzees know that they and the universe that sorrounds them exist, and in the process of knowing, have attempted to undertsand their connectivity to that universe... then I would gladly say that humans considering themselves "special" is egocentric.

      Human's existence (on earth) or for that matter a similarly predisposed being's existence (on another planetray system) in cosmic terms maybe, if I could express it in mathematical terms, 1/1,000,000,000th of a nanosecond but in earth terms could be a lifetime.. then one must make the most of that earthly existence to reach not only for the physical but also for the ethereal universe.

    • lxxy profile image

      lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Personally, I find that species who are "more" sentient than those around them assume that they are special.

      This is rather ego-centric, would you not agree?

      It is very easy to look at "The Universe" and either be overwhelmed by it's majestic complexity, or simply unsure that it arose by any design at all.

      Me? I'm just glad to be here, to witness it work, for those fleeting eons in eternity before it returns back to "zero."