23. The purpose of life is life itself
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"What is the purpose of life ?" How
many times do we ask our self that question ? I personally have three
answers to it.
At one level the question is almost ridiculous. Take for example
Elisabeth, a Darwin acquaintance of mine. Every evening without
fail, at around 6 PM she walks into the Darwin Sailing
Club, climbs on one of the high bar stools on the front veranda,
and while sipping a glass of bubbly watches the sun go down behind
the horizon of Fannie Bay (which during the dry season is sprinkled with
yachts tied to their moorings).
To the best of my knowledge nobody has ever walked up to Elisabeth
and asked : "What the hell are you doing there
Elisabeth ?" (never call her "Liz", she hates that!) "What is the purpose of this ?"
Likewise if you happen to be in Broome (Western Australia) at the time that
the Moon cycle and ocean tide combine in just the right way (about once
every 3 weeks) you will be able to observe the Staircase to the
Moon, without a doubt the most spectacular Moon rise you will ever
experience in Australia. And while you are doing that, rest assured that
no-one will ask you "What is the purpose of that ?"
So, at its most basic level the purpose of life is (experiencing) life
itself ! It is a unique lifelong opportunity to see, to feel, smell,
taste, hear, think, communicate, observe, learn, be aware.
can not stand this lie, rammed through everybody's throat for centuries
by the various religions that life on earth is only a valley of misery
and tears, but if you behave you will, upon death, rise up to Heaven
(But if you are bad, sorry my boy, it will be Hell for you.). Mind
you, I do believe in a Heaven and a Hell, but they are right here on
earth, created by ourselves, the human race. We can't conveniently blame it
on an imaginary Devil or a God.
This leads me to the second level of answer to my original question. The
purpose of life is also to contribute to it. We can do this by
helping to increase the "Heaven region" on our planet and to decrease (and
eventually get rid of) the "Hell portion" of it.
And if you are an intelligent person, share your knowledge and
understanding with others, reducing their ignorance, increasing
their insights and understanding. For ignorance is the
fuel that feeds the flames which rage in our earthly Hell !
Focus on that
positive aspect of your character at which you are good.
(Remember, its effect will be the same as the gentle flap of a
butterfly's wing at one side of the ocean which grows into a strong wind
at the other side.)
- If you
are a caring person, be caring to others, so that they will stop
and think "Hey, I should be a bit more caring too!"
- If you are a generous person, be generous to others as much as
you can, so that they will stop and think "Hey, I should be a bit more
Finally at a third level, you, I and everyone else, are tiny tiny
contributors to the Evolution process of our Universe. This process
started some 15 billion years ago with a Bang, transforming raw
energy into simple matter (hydrogen and helium) > > Through the forces of gravity this matter clustered together forming stars > > which became the furnaces
that forged and spewed out complex matter (all the other elements like Fe, Ni, Si, O, S, etc.) > > which in turn clustered together into planets like our earth > > where
organic matter was formed > > Eventually this evolved (with the aid of sunlight and in the right chemical environment) into primitive organic
life * > > then ever more complex life > > which at this point has become life
with ever increasing intelligence and awareness of the world and universe around it.
Life on earth has evolved now for around 2 billion
years. But it is important to realise that it in all probability will
continue to evolve for twice that long. The human species is therefore
merely a stepping stone, not a final destination. But we are tiny
components of this important stepping stone to which we contribute in two
ways. During our lifetime through the influence we exert on others, and
into the future with our DNA, and the examples we did set and pass
on to our children.
So there you have it, that is what I consider to be the triple purpose of
The very first creation of life is (according to the present thinking of modern scientists) much less spectacular than you perhaps might imagine. In fact its beginnings are very humble.
Now, 2 billion years later, it is hard to imagine that the enormous variety and complexity of life we have today all came from such a simple life form. And one can't help but wonder : what lies in store for the next 4 billion years, and how will life on earth look then ?
It started (in the right liquid chemical environment and probably with the assitance of sunlight) with an organic cell being formed as an exact identical copy of its neighbour, to which, once formed, it attached itself to.
- In due course small clusters of organic cells were formed in this way.
- Soon after clusters started to build protective "skins" around themselves to ward off external threads : the very first form of primitive life.
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Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner