Why The 'Meaning Of Life' Doesn't Really Matter

by Paul Hudson

The longer I live, the more amazed I am by the universe and life itself. Most of us have a certain understanding of the fragility of life, but few of us take the time to consider — likely due to the lack of information or interest in finding the information — how fragile the universe itself is. No matter what your religious beliefs or views on the afterlife, the inevitable remains the inevitable.

And what is the inevitable? Well, assuming that the Big Bang theory is spot on, the universe will rip itself apart (the Big Rip) in about 1 trillion years — depending on whom you ask, as some estimations are as little as 22 billion. Way before that however, in about 5 billion years, our sun will grow into a red dwarf and consume Earth entirely.

In case you believe that humans will escape earth or that the dark matter in the universe will slow down and never rip, we now have reason to believe that the Higgs field, created by the newly found Higgs boson, will eventually turn into a super-dense state that will tear all the molecules apart, destroying all forms of life and all large matter. This phenomenon is not likely — not to say that it can’t happen this very second — in the next 10 to the 100 years (in Googol years). But it will happen and our universe — everything and anything that exists — will disappear from existence.

Now the important question: why should you care? True, you most likely won’t live for the next 100 years, so why should you care about what happens in the next few trillion? People have been searching for the meaning of life and the meaning of existence from the beginning of time. Since we could walk on two legs and out think our predators.

We believe that there must be some purpose for us being here, for our existence. We spend the majority of our lives trying to find ourselves, give ourselves purpose, a reason for living. We spend the majority of our lives lost and confused, hoping to find some answer written somewhere in the stars or in the pages of a book written thousands of years ago. The fact of the matter is that the meaning of life is not for us to decipher. It is not for us to worry ourselves about. The only thing that human beings can and should concern themselves with is themselves.

I’m a philosopher at heart and I believe that solving problems via theoretical thinking and examination is a beautiful thing — a skill that only we have. Trying to unravel the mysteries of existence is a noble cause; I can’t argue against that. But what exactly is it that we are hoping to find? What answer will satisfy us? What do we expect or hope to be revealed?

All that any of us needs to know is that this world, this galaxy, this universe, everything in existence will one day no longer exist. The true meaning of life — if there is one to begin with — will be beyond our reach or understanding. All that we will ever have is theories. We will theorize and contemplate, rationalize and draw conclusions. We will continue to wonder and try to figure out what it all means up to the very second that we cease to exist. This is the curse of the human race; always was and always will be.

We have people concerning themselves with such large problems throughout history and all that we have had as a result is human suffering. Religions were created that murdered and continue to murder the innocent. Sure, not the religions themselves, but rather the followers. But what is a religion if not the sum of its members? We have had world leaders — and still have — that believed themselves to be a direct line to a larger power.

More people have died in the ‘search’ for the meaning of life than due to all the diseases and natural disasters combined. Even individuals such as ourselves who don’t seek to rule over others find themselves lost at different points throughout their lives. Have you not ever felt as if your life wasn’t what it should be? That there was some greater purpose?

If there is a greater purpose or greater meaning to life, one that holds us and everything else that exists, then we should let it be. We should not concern ourselves with the meaning of it all because it is impossible to see how an entire system — especially one as complex and intricate as existence itself — functions and interacts while within it. We will never understand the meaning of it all as long as we are part of the meaning.

We would need to take a step outside of the system and get a bird’s eye perspective on it all — something that is impossible. We are basically caught in an incredibly complex web trying to guess the grand design without ever leaving the confines of the edges. You can’t know what it all means until you are no longer part of what it all means. Unfortunately, that is the point at which you cease to exist. Who cares what it all means at that point?

All I can recommend is that you focus on your individual life and on the lives of those closest to you. Human beings are not meant to interact and affect the world beyond our reach. We don’t need to see the big picture in order to better the lives of everything that we know to be alive. We are meant to function at the microscopic level that we exist on. I sometimes feel as if having rationale thought is more of a curse than a blessing — like a bad joke really.

We are given the tools that would seem to show us all the answers… But no one ever told us that there was no answer to be found. The meaning of life itself will never be found. However, the meaning of your life can be. You give your life the meaning that you see fit. You mold your own life and make it what you want it to be. You have the power to affect those closest to you and should aim to do so by bettering their lives and their existences, increasing their standards of living.

Every day I wish that all religion would cease to exist and that we could focus on what matters: the lives that we are now living. Religion or no religion, it will all be over in the blink of an eye.