• Question: What is the meaning of life?

    Asked by ropst896 to Amy, Drew, Julia, Kimberley, Sara on 22 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Ropst896 – I can see you’re into big questions. Science doesn’t really say anything about meaning. It can say what caused something to happen, but meaning is something that humans add on top of causes.

      If someone hits you, you might ask “why did you do that?”. They might say “The neurons in my brain caused a nerve signal to my arm, which caused certain muscles to contract and others to relax”. That’s a scientific answer, but you’d be looking for some more abstract meaning. Same thing with life as a whole – it has causes, but if you are after meaning then you have to add that on top yourself.

    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      This is a great question ropst896,

      What is interesting is why do we think life has a meaning? or that there is a meaning to anything? if life spontaneously started from nothing and carries on because it can then there is no reall necessity for a “meaning”. Science answers the questions to do with how things work and the processes by which things happen but the assigning of meaning to these things is something that most of us seem to look for? why is this?
      Could this desire for meaning have risen through a bline evolutionary process? what would be its benefits?

      I do personally think that there is a meaning to life – that the universe we know came from something and is heading towards something. That God exists. 🙂

      What do you think?

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      If we knew that… would we want to live it?

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hi ropst! Very deep thinking! We’ve got some great scientific and religious perspectives here. I can tell you that the physics perspective would be that life solves some fundamental problem the universe has. For example it helps mediate production of entropy – making the universe create entropy faster than it would in the absence of life. There is also an idea that consciousness is important because it is a way for the universe to contemplate itself. I think that is pretty beautiful and poetic.

      But, when it gets down to it the answer is … . 42!!! Don’t know this – check out the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. Apparently the answer to the meaning of life is 42, which is about as reasonable as anybody else’s best guess. We just can’t know, its not an answerable question. But it sure is fascinating to contemplate!