Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why do I exist?


Why do I exist? Is it because some self-replicating chemical has designed and created me as an instrument for the sole purpose of improving its success rate for self-replication? Is it to express some soul purpose? Or is the reason of my existence without purpose?

Descartes’ phrase “I think, therefore I exist,” was meant to prove that there is at least one fact in the universe that is beyond doubt. I am, I exist is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it. But his exploration here doesn’t tell us why we exist.

Perhaps why we exist is defined by what Thomas Aquinas thought of as salvation: “Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.” Can our beliefs, desires and moral actions answer the question why?

Tolstoy believed that “The essence of any religion lies solely in the answer to the question: why do I exist, and what is my relationship to the infinite universe that surrounds me?”

What do YOU think?
Artwork by Jane Campbell  Many thanks.

78 comments:

Patti said...

That's a good thing to meditate on....Ask God, our Consciousness why you are here. I, too, want to know my reason for being in this 3 D plane of existence. Obviously, we are all Spiritual beings wearing a mask of humanhood.....when born we inherit the dreaded mesmerism of false beliefs, of limitations and a belief in separation from our Creator....this is why we are here, I think.....to overcome this illusion that has continued for eons. We must realize as Jesus did that "All that the Father hath is mine".....that "The Kingdom of God is within you". Oneness, not separation is our birthright.

Joe said...

You exist because you can. Everything that happens in life happens because it can. Does it matter that you live? No. If you just dropped dead in front of 10 people, it wouldn't matter. Your family and friends would grief over you, and it will matter to them, but over all, it won't matter. It wont matter for anybody.

We are not on this earth for any particular reason, other than to ensure the survival of humanity.

Do you know why it won't matter if you die? Because if you die you won't have a brain to wish that you still lived. You will forget everything, and in death it doesn't matter, because everything but the memory of you will cease to exist.

This goes for all sentient life.

inito said...

You exist because your mother popped you out. There is no actual "purpose" for existence, we are just like any other animals, plants, insects, struggling for survival. It does not matter if you live or not in life, but it will matter to your parents, relatives and people who you have close relationship with.

guy said...

It matters if your life has meaning. Your meaning isn't the meaning of life its just what gives your life meaning. For example, my life has meaning through my family and friends. But if a hermit never had any family or friends and just lived in isolation all his life that does not mean that his life is meaningless. Get me? So if your trying to find your place in life you need to look at what you already have because it's what you already have that motivates you to live. Just ask yourself what would happen if you did die, who would be effected by it? Personally that thought keeps me alive because its kind of a responsibility, y'know?

but honestly, in the end all of this doesn't even matter :]

Merisan said...

In the grand scale of things, no single person really matters.
I know people may say "if there was no Einstein, we would have no relativity" etc. But in reality someone else would have worked it out independently.
It's up to every individual to make their place in life - the place will not find you. Take a look at your own society. Those at the top are there because they generally had a dream/desire/drive to get there. Those at the bottom decided not to try and ended up there (of course there are always some exceptions)..

Basically to summarize, Life is what you make it.

jazz said...

who needs a reason?
that stuff seems uncivilized to me.
a step or two above savages sacrificing animals in the moonlight, at best.
all that hocus-pocus and mumbo-jumbo about fate and purpose.
it's nonsense designed to either enslave the weak-minded, tame the wild or placate the restless.
so maybe life IS pointless? maybe EVERYTHING is pointless.
who cares?
i have a mind, a well-defined concept of morality and a great abiding love for my fellow beings.
i take pride in the fact that i live my life in a decent fashion.
i don't need a purpose or a god or any threats of damnation or promises of heavenly rewards to give my life meaning or to entice me to behave in any way.
that's what being civilized is all about.

Dorothy said...

Well as Albert Einstein Quoted....
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

Priyanka said...

Since the day we are born we are either immensely loved by our parents and our family or
are betrayed or disowned. We live our childhood, become adults, grow old and finally die. But what does all this existing and exiting mean? Why does this life-cycle take place? My name is Priyanka, but who is Priyanka? Is she the daughter of her parents? Is she only a human being, a common face in the crowd? What is the reason behind our existence?
One evening observing the sunset, I wonder and get troubled, not finding the answers to the numerous questions flowing in and out of my mind.What is beyond this universe, what if there were no galaxies, no planets, no human beings, no God, no devil, just nothing…..a feeling of emptiness kills me. I am out of answers to satisfy my self, I wonder what is the reason for the existence of all human beings, animals, birds, exitence of life. I am living today; I might be dead tomorrow, so how do I spend my life, by doing well for those human beings who might not exist tomorrow, or by praying and talking to god whom I am going to see, once I am dead. Where do I go, once I am separated from my body? Where do I belong, to heaven or to hell? If life on earth feels like hell then is life a punishment for our bad deeds or is heaven a gift of god, to rest our soul in peace. We are children of god, good or bad, we all belong to him, so why are we different from one another, why is one better than the other. Ur mind, body and soul are all his creation, so if one deserves less, why so? My head spins, questions rush, troubling me, I’m uneasy

Mark said...

Though horrified by Descartes' view of animals as biological machines. I remain convinced of the soundness of his "cogito ergo sum" as the best summary of what a human can know about themselves for certain. My mind is my thought process which is my consciouness- no matter what avenue of self inquiry I pursue I arrive back at Descartes statement. Many fellow theosophists have argued that I should not equate mind & consciousness as one and the same. But for me to extend consciousness beyond the process of mind & thought is wishful thinking.

NDE's throw doubt onto Descartes idea. But the only experience I can draw upon in life would be the few times I have fainted/passed out- I had no experience of self awareness during those moments. The plug of consciousness was pulled (so to speak) and I was no longer an 'I'. I side w/ Lucretius in his "On the Nature of Things;" survival of consciousness after death is fine if it happens but if it's oblivion- why worry we're never going to know anyway. Thus live a good ethical life and be open to all possibilities.

As to the purpose of our existence it returns for me to the process of what we focus our mind & thoughts on to value and cultivate in life. I'm paraphrasing; but Swedenborg indicates after death we're not asked how good we were, but what useful purpose did we serve in life. That seems to be a sound response to purpose and salvation if that is truly a consideration we shall have to deal with.

Vincent said...

Well, it is possible to have a reason for your existence. But having a reason might not end the questions.

Adyarman said...

You exist because God created you. Once you recognize this fact, you know what you ought to believe, what you ought to desire and what you ought to do.

Ginae said...

I've pondered this question several times. MANY times. And I keep coming back to this.

The only way to give your existence/life any meaning is to be kind to ourselves and others. Are only purpose is to serve God. After that, being kind is the only way to give it all meaning.

wehireu said...

Why not. Having a reason for a lot of things is counterproductive. Because you are.

Adyarman said...

You exist because God created you. Once you recognize this fact, you know what you ought to believe, what you ought to desire and what you ought to do.

Jeff said...

To me, the old Hindu and Buddhist teachings, along with much of modern Science's leanings - on the Universe being pure consciousness - rings true. From the dualistic perspective of Maya, our temporary identification of self as ego is illusory and transient. Our bodies are like receivers transmitting or projecting myriad expressions of one spirit, one consciousness, like facets on a diamond, like Indra's Net. But why are we here? I suspect it is because this is what Consciousness, Spirit or Mind as the Tibetans refer to it, does... We and all creation are how Spirit becomes conscious of itself, simply because it can. Quantum physics tells us now that even in a vacuum space is not empty, but teeming with activity - sub-atomic particles are constantly flitting in and out of existence. We are Spirit at luminous play... And the entire history of our Universe must be only a tiniest fraction of the expression of Truth... To assume ourselves somehow the point of everything seems fairly arrogant...

Kerry said...

From the minutest of "apparently" separated entities to the greatest...
....To create; To evolve; To Love (and be loved!).
That is why we exist !

Jack said...

Why we exist is the opposite of the urgent query; why must we die? the answer we arrive at plays a huge role in how we live our lives. People stop short of seriously probing evidence, and using many forms of logic, along with intuition. Many have simply based a conclusion upon faith. Yet, science often contradicts faith based conclusions. Scientists are "studies" and this class of humanity is often "used" toward an "end". I don't want to wade deeply into conspiracy paranoia, where one might think I'm saying scientists are often biased in order to satisfy the powers that be.

But, I do think science plays a role in explaining why the physical body can be seen as merely a form used for a time, and death is only perceived as an ending. This wouldn't be so hard for people to believe if we didn't live in a time that can be described as, "spiritually barren". I wonder sometimes if people set themselves apart from others because they see only themselves as true believers. Being absolute, or separate from other living beings and things is considered the greatest heresy. Theosophist's agree that every being and everything are parts and/or portions of the Universe.

Ron said...

Art is and I am.

Kerry said...

The problem with the modern definition of science (scientific method) is its self-created limitations and then the often outrageous proclamations by the scientists themselves who do that work! ...as though what these people say because they have done something in an area of investigation is some kind of gospel.

I am often coming across research articles that actually show good research and then the most amazing conclusons and assumptions are made. so bad is it sometimes that to me it is almost as though once the results have been written up the researcher his or her-self should be banned from writing in the discussion! ie the results should be just left to stand for themselves!

With the interpretative discussion taken out, what is science then but an instrument? ...a microscope or telescope?

It really amazes me that people take seriously things that cannot possibly be investigated by science (at present) and yet become offended at the strange emissions of a "scientist" ...their views should be dismissed as unfounded by their own 'science"! ...it amazes me that a scientist can make comment about something with absolute certainty because they assert their persona of "scientist" and yet they cannot have possibly scientifically researched the thing!

I'm trying to google to find a quote that my memory attributes to Einstein, scathing of his fellow scientists...

"You look like scientists, talk like scientists, but you are not scientists...!"
______________
But i did find....

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."

Lewontin, Richard C. [Professor of Zoology and Biology, Harvard University], "Billions and Billions of Demons", Review of "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," by Carl Sagan, New York Review, January 9, 1997. (Emphasis in original)

Jeff said...

my brief response would be to say that science never stops with a conclusion - it continues and further conclusions are reached, always based on analyzed and measurable data - thereby is entirely relevant and objective. But perhaps this discussion should be moved to its own forum...

abaris said...

Let me ask you, when you receive a gift, do you always assume that it was given for a reason? What about accepting the gift of existence without double guessing it.

Descartes got it wrong. It is the other way around: I exist, for no particular reason or "Higher Purpose", as a "Homo Sapiens Sapiens", a thinking THINKING being, therefore I think. If you didn't exist as that which you obviously are, you wouldn't think.

There is no salvation, no afterlife, no soul, all that matters is the here and the now.The essence of religion lies solely in our reluctance to accept mortality. That's where religion comes in to provide comfort by promising some kind of afterlife and the notion of a purpose that lies beyond the confines of this world. As comforting those lies may be, they are still lies.

schrodinger said...

Well, the "gift" came with strings attached! Not only was self-awareness included in the package, but also awareness of something else which we don't understand.All religions tell lies but somewhere behind all those lies just may be a wonderful truth.

jufa said...

Existence, as Life is far more infinite than any human concept, theory, idea, belief, or fragmented human mind could ever begin to comprehend. Everything men do is done upon a time table, in this realm, which will end their intellectual reasoning, seeking and all man's human endeavors of understanding life's meaning and purpose in this parenthesis of flesh. Why do I exist? is, therefore, a question which must be found in the answer, and the answer is Life. Comprehend Life, and automatically existence is known. So Life's purpose, to this writer, should be that which is sought by man while he is in this dimension of awareness, which means also, to this writer, that Life is about expanding. Yet expanding in the material world is limited by-way of birth into the flesh for birth defers true expansion because birth has one purpose - death. And in this dimension of flesh death halts human intellectual expansion.

Why then should men seek enlightenment and strive to fulfill a specific purpose should it is true death halts human intellectual expansion? Man lives by way of thought. The reality of thought is Consciousness. The life of man's thoughts, whether called spiritual or material, is the Spirit of the Consciousness from which all intent of thought began. Seeking enlightenment is searching for the true intent of purpose of all man's objective and subjective thoughts. It is going through the human mind to expand beyond the mind. Enlightenment therefore is being the light of life unto ones self, which man is. Finding the light of Self will guide man through the dark corridors of the maze of the mind's personal interpretations, for the light of Self will absorbs all personal interpretations, and dissolve all the darkness of the good in evil and the evil in good it shines upon.

Man's primary purpose is to continuously bear witness to the truth that the Conscience of Consciousness is the true form of light as Self. That Consciousness brings light to the flesh of men, and therefore, the minds of men so the path through the mind may become known. Every thought conceived and acknowledged, in man, first came out of the invisible essence and substance of Consciousness by-way of Spirit intent within the Nature of God. Man is here to bear witness to the truth that God is the only power, and no human thought, interpretation of human thought, nor human intent of thought is a power, in this world, because human thoughts will not halt death, nor alter God's intent of purpose. Man purpose is to fulfill his Promised Covenant to halt the lie that for mankind to exist, mankind needs a physical body.

Imran said...

i think we exist for destroy or creation as well as for suffering...

Astrid said...

I think Descartes, Aquinas, and Tolstoi were speaking from their specific stage of development (since they lived in different centuries one cannot say they spoke from their time) and maybe micro cultures / traditions with focusing the perspective of the mind.

"I think", "to know", and "answer to the question" refers to reason, yet we know that the living being is more than the mind.

Gary said...

We exist not for ourselves, but for each other.
Have you ever wondered why Canada geese fly in a "V" formation? Well, as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird that follows. The uplift (somewhat like the slipstream of an airplane's propeller) allows the group of geese to fly 70% more efficiently than a lone goose. But isn't it more tiring for the lead bird(s)? Yes, it is, so they regularly change their positions during their flight. So, geese, too, do not exist for themselves, but for one another. By watching them, we can learn the importance of cooperation. Team work and social interaction is the foundation for the fundamental growth which drives our societies. It took two to create each of us. The innate desire to see our children reach adulthood is one of the strongest values societies have. The whole is stronger than the one. From a religious perspective all laws pertain to our interaction with each other. Do not kill, do not covet,do not steal. The whole survives where the one might perish. We are-in order to perpetuate the
the whole. When I try to make someone smile-my joy-comes from them showing theirs. We are all born brothers and sisters.

Inger said...

i've always thought Descartes was pretty strange to bother with such a ridiculous question as "do i exist". Now if you define "i" in terms of some kind of an everlasting identity such as an ego that's worth talking about. maybe our individuality as human beings is a temporary identity necessary at the physical level of existence and that identity will indeed die. So is the soul the same as an eternal ego? good question! unfortunately most people's concept of life after death is nothing more than that! Soul however can be something very very subtle..in buddhism there are the dualist as opposed to the non dualists. The dualists believe that the soul always remains separate from god even though it is the same in quality as god while the non dualists believe that the soul merges into god and disappears just like a drop would merge into the ocean and cease to be a drop..the experience of the dualist and the non dualist however would ultimately be the same if you really go through the steps so i think the whole question is irrelevant..the knowledge of what can be experienced as pure soul is not available to anyone on this planet! i've also heard the "individual soul" vs. the "collective soul" argument and it seems like the same one.

Masahiro said...

When I read these famous snippets hidden in the latter half of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, a difficult treatise in the field of logic on the relationship between proposition and logic, Wittgenstein became the most influential philosopher on my scholastic development. I desired to find what remains once the logic of arguments has been exhausted, what is found on the other side of that which is said, “that inexpressible beyond.” I believe that depending only on what remains unsaid, one will find something there. “Solipsism,” “death,” “the world’s existence,” and “mysteriousness” – what the philosopher ultimately discovers after thoroughly examining a thing or an idea through logic, the part that remains when it can no longer be expressed using logic, what naturally appears after such an examination, that mysterious “kernel of existence.”

One of the reasons I was shocked at these items described by Wittgenstein was that he stuck with the same problem as I have and continued with since my teens. Also, I suffered terribly being unable to communicate my ideas in written from. I was shocked in finding out that the problem that plagued my mind for so long had been so clearly elucidated by someone at the beginning of this century.

Dan said...

Why do I exist?
Answer it? Nobody can.
(At least nobody's done it yet.)
But as for having the question down,
You know you're really asking it
When it isn't merely answerless
But answerless in the strongest sense;
Answerless in being less
A question than an utterance.

Andras said...

You exist in this slice of life (from the series of incarnations) to learn a lesson that you have not learned in prior life's. IN other words perfect yourself as a being through series of incarnation spiced with certain karmic baggage good and bad...
Whatever deficiencies you carry with you from past life you will have a chance to correct and perfect in this one. There is always one major task or lesson for each incarnation.

countsneaky said...

Not only is this the question of questions, but it challenges those of us who have spent so much time in the Interior to find it as it hides behind tree after tree.
As Heraclitus remarked, it is in the nature of things to remain hidden. Perhaps, we can scour more woods with this group. Perhaps, since a "why" presupposes a reason,
we should not make it a question...if there is no reason as we understand the words.
The woods are dark.Take care.

Dave said...

Why we exist is not only a personal question, it is central to cosmology. Why is there something instead of nothing? Why was there a Big Bang? It is not only a religious or philosophical question but also a scientific question. We don’t know the answer to “why” yet, which is why its an intriguing question open to speculation. My guess is whatever answer we imagine is the wrong answer. We are all only guessing.

Maybe the new Large Hadron Collider will discover the answer. There are new discoveries to be made!

Robin said...

I don't exist. I mean, I AM! But I thrive. I live for the sheer joy of experiencing Life as fully as I cam. I don't want to miss a moment of it. This does not mean that everyday is pure bliss, it's not. But it's how choose to respond to each moment and what I make of my life that counts for me. I cannot stress enough that we get out and fully live our lives. Don't waste it.

Ian said...

Note - these are just my views - nothing more that the creation of my mind...

We (each of us) exist because our parents came together to procreate. Their attraction, hopefully mutual, was sufficient to traverse the various barriers to having sex. The answer to your question lies in understanding the barriers and the motivations to cross those barriers. The barriers are primarily cultural/moral (which come from us being a social species - society is more successful than the individual), and the basic instincts of attraction that our parent's inherited from the successful procreation of their parents.

In humans, success somes from figuring stuff out, hence what we think of as intelligence is attractive. Or to put this more accurately, being attracted to intelligence is more successful for our offspring, so this attraction has emerged. One consequence of intelligence (the drive to figure stuff out), is that we ask the question "Why do I exist?"

Voss said...

I think you and me exist to create. From the moment of conception we begin creating . Even if after we are born if we choose to do nothing and just die we will have created. And after we die we go on creating for quite a long time.

abaris said...

Awareness, among other things, is included in the package, the package being me, you, each and every one of us, but lets not confuse the contents of the delivery with the Strings that are attached to it.

Now, there are strings attached indeed and not by the sender, since there is no sender, but through the agents who deliver us into the world, which are, obviously, none other than our biological parents. We are born into the "Culture" of our parents and there is no way to wholly escape the conditioning effect of that culture.

Sure, there are things we understand and things we don't but should we "Deify" the things we don't understand?

If there is one thing I know that most people don't, then it is this: I Know how to UNLEARN things.

kowtaai said...

Where thought arises and where it dissolves,
There you should abide, O my son.

Schroedinger said...

I make no claims about any Deity. At least we do agree that there are things that we do not understand. In fact, I will go so far as to say that we understand practically nothing when it comes to the reason for our existence. Some would even argue about whether or not we exist at all.

I do not believe in either salvation or heaven. My interpretation of Pascal’s wager is that he thought it prudent to live life “as if there was a God” because there just might be, in spite of the odds against it. Recently I read an article on the present Pope saying almost exactly the same thing. I can’t find any real harm in trying to be a decent human being who tries to cause no harm to others, on the off chance that there will be unpleasant consequences in doing otherwise. Of course, that does seem hypocritical and self serving, but how many of us can claim to just naturally have good intentions towards others all of the time? Maybe we need some sort of ultra-dictator to keep us on the right path, even if we have to create Him ourselves?

I am not privy to any Ultimate Truth! Trust me; I am every bit as confused as the next person by anything that I cannot express in an equation! But as I grow older, I am realizing more and more that life is quite a remarkable journey and while I am prepared for the possibility that at the very end there is absolutely nothing, I am also prepared for the possibility that is not the case at all.

abaris said...

I would say we know practically nothing about existence, let alone the reason for it.

Consider this: In the course of recorded history, more people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason. So I can't see the guidance of the various "Divine Dictators" to have increased "decency".

No my friend. We don't need Gods, Prophets, Philosopher Kings or Saviors of any sort. People are at their best when they are free to live in accordance with their own nature.

The older you grow, the heavier the burden of mortality weighs. Five weeks ago, I kissed my fathers cold lips a last far well and we lowered him into his grave. Standing there at my Fathers grave, I felt reluctant to accept that this was the end of the man whom I consider my creator. I wish there were an afterlife, I wish that the spirit of my Father were still alive somewhere beyond the confines of the world..... But I know that this is not the case.

Schrodinger said...

Yeah I know. It is a high wire act, or “walking the fence” but the way I see it, I don’t have a strong enough faith to be an atheist! Such was not the case up until a few years ago, then something weird happened and now my atheism is in serious doubt, although I find all religions ridiculous. It is quite a predicament!

there are a lot of bad people in this world and how can I be sure I am not one of them? We all live under some form of delusion or another. There are very bad people who see themselves as good and good people who see themselves as bad. How does anyone know who is what? You cannot even trust the judgment of your friends; just look at Hitler, for example; his friends and followers thought he was a great man! In fact, there are more than a few people living today who still think so. I am afraid that some people’s “own nature’ as you put it, can be very unhealthy according to some other people’s own nature. I think we need some guidelines engraved in stone, and supposedly that is exactly the way the Ten Commandments were delivered to us. As silly as a lot of the Bible is, every once in a while it will slap you on the head with something really profound. “Let there be Light” is a great example. In light of where science is taking us now, and the BB theory, how apt is that phrase? I mean, they could have attributed so many other words to the supposed Creator, but “Let there be Light” is hard to beat! How did they know to write that particular phrase?

I am very sorry for your loss of your father. If I understand you correctly, you wish for an afterlife for him, but you cannot accept one for yourself? That is another paradox, my friend! Turning to science again, you are aware that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed in form. From that scientific fact, you can take heart that your father does indeed continue to exist, and will always exist. As you said earlier, we know nothing about the nature of existence, so we take comfort where we can find it.

Thomas said...

People are getting killed for resources, greed, and just plain rage and hatred. Religion is occasionally used as an excuse. It is also occasionally used as a psychological factor to motivate people to commit violence.

I think Schrodinger has a point there. If people are left to live in accordance with their own nature, they might just decide to create another Taliban or another Darfur. There needs to be a control mechanism, whatever that may be.

Not that we should be too smug about our Western democracy. We are living under some kind of civilised mob rule right now. The idea of freedom often means that everyone gets to live out his/her primitive urges, indulge in consumerism, pollute the environment, and has the right to say silly things in public. It's better than tyranny, but heck, still far removed from realising the human potential.

I don't have any ready-made solutions either, but I try to be optimistic and expect that we can improve.

kris said...

What makes religion such a useful and effective tool to motivate people to commit violence?

Are you saying that Taliban and Darfur are the result of some people's inherently evil nature?

Schrodinger said...

Do you suppose that the 911 murderers were anything other than cowards? Do you suppose that anyone who allows others to do their thinking for them is a coward? Hey, you don't want to be a coward? Join the church, any church will do!! I don't see a thinking, pragmatic person as a coward. I do not see someone who refuses to commit to the insanity of organized religion as a coward. I do see someone who simply gives up on trying to figure out the nature of being, and turns to atheism as an easy answer, is a coward. Those who are trying to find answers, and refuse to be led by the nose, are the bravest among us, and the only ones who have any hope of leading us out of the mess we are all in. Those who lie awake at night, refusing to join any camp, but seeking for the answers on their own, are NOT COWARDS!

abaris said...

Atheism is not a matter of faith but a deliberate choice based on lack of tangible evidence in support of the antithesis to it.

Are you someone who goes around imposing his will on others? Are you harming people who've done nothing to harm you? Do you enjoy to see others suffer? If not , then I guess you are alright.

Even Hitler wasn't born evil. Not his nature but the "Guidelines" of the environment in which he grew into made him what he became.

The BB theory was first formulated by Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître, a Roman Catholic priest. That's why

a) It is nothing but Judeo-Christian Alpha-Omega creationism disguised as science and
b) leads nowhere.

Death is part of life and my Dad lived a full life and did not suffer. What I'm trying to say is that at moments like those, when you lose someone very close to you, you are tempted to believe that there is an afterlife, that death is not the end. But this is not the case and I don't see the point of seeking comfort in Illusions.

How many suicide bombers blow themselves up in the name of the Dollar, the Euro or the Ruble? No Thomas more people are being killed in the name of God then for any other reason. The only reason you disagree is because you don't see God for what "IT" really is: The Invention of the Greedy and the Hateful.

Would Afghan peasants give up their homes and start a jihad if it wasn't for the hundreds of madrases and muftis? What are you suggesting? That Some People are inherently evil?

Then perhaps they should be controlled by some sort of mechanism. But that begs the question: Who's to decide what that mechanism should be and who ought to be controlled and to what extend? And what if some refuse to be controlled? What then? Implement some kind of "Endloessung"?

Thomas said...

I'd like to try an answer that relates to exoteric religion. "Exoteric" means religion in the sense of a doctrinal system and related ritual practices. In this sense, religions are not very different from ideologies. They embody a set of beliefs, values and practices which are deemed true and which provide identification for certain groups. This mechanism strengthens egos on a collective scale. There is a rather interesting resulting phenomenon, psychological in nature, for which the German language has the word "Gleichschaltung". It could be translated with "mental group alignment". Obviously, the principle of Gleichschaltung is at the very heart of mass manipulation, and it is used similarly by politicians, despots, and religious zealots, or generally by people interested in manipulating others for their own purposes. The instrument of Gleichschaltung can be race, culture, or a set of doctrines such as in the case of religion. So what I am saying is that (exoteric) religion is in danger of being used as a means of controlling people in order to exert power.

The evil that was committed by the Taliban and in Darfur is the result of complex conditions where social control systems collapsed and allowed "evil" (if you will) forces to surface.

Thomas said...

I think you might have been misled by the media. The spectacular cases of religious motivated suicide bombers which are so visible in the media are by no means comparable in number to the cases of murder and violence committed in the name of the Dollar, Euro, and Ruble, which means violence committed for the purpose of material gain. The latter are just not that newsworthy.

I am suggesting that some people are more prone than others to ignorance, greed, and aversion - especially to ignorance. These are the ones who are most likely to fail in demanding situations.

Schrodinger said...

I agree that the organized religions, in particular the Abrahamic faiths, are detrimental to mankind’s spiritual development. However, it just makes no sense at all to place all the blame on so-called prophets, messiahs and messengers of God, as if those individuals are somehow different from the rest of humanity. It is almost like saying that these religions were given to us by some super-human source, in other words, some “god” gave them to us just to screw us up! We need to face the fact that these religions are of human origin and arose because of some intrinsic human trait or in response to some intrinsic human need that we just do not understand yet. We cannot say the root of our problems is religion since religion is just an artefact of our humanity. We do need to rise above all this occult nonsense that the “great religions” have imposed on us but at the same time recognize this human need for spirituality and find a better way to address that need. I do not know what that better way is; Buddhism does seem to come closer to the mark, but still has too much hocus pocus attached to it. Science as religion does appeal to me, but I think it as at the point where the common man has no hope of understanding just what the “high priests” of science are really up to. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the only way to end the scourge of the great religions is a great holy war. Maybe after the (atomic) dust settles, mankind can start out with a fresh slate.

Nicole said...

The Marriage of Sense & Soul by Ken Wilber speaks very much to the topics being discussed within this thread. It is very interesting that the main topic is asking for "meaning," and then within this very thread an example of the clash between that of material reality and its mechanization, and that of spiritual reality and its mystery has arisen. Please do read the book I have offered (if you have the time) and then, let us go about approaching the meaning of existence with a new understanding that aims at integration between spirituality and science.

Gibbs said...

In your use of why you assume that there is a prior absolute meaning to yours and everyone else's existence which is presumably knowable. This is essentially Jung's position among others. The other side is there may be an ultimate why but the why is generated after consciousness determines individual purpose.

Chris said...

It is a particularly human trait to question such a thing as purpose. Is it not enough to simply note "I am" (apologies to Yahweh), and then decide what to do with that?

Neil said...

thoughts in no way entail a thinker. Molly may be a product of some of my early experiments in genetics for all she can be certain of. What is currently thought to be the background microwave radiation of the big bang was actually me in the laboratory shouting 'lord save us, I've made a Christian'! She may, of course, choose not to believe this truth.

I am not so self-centred as to want this kind of mean, selfish contemplation, regarding it as a mistake. People need to be free of this kind of manipulation and other ways of having their souls governed.

Don said...

I'm afraid it's all an accident we're here. All of us. Chaos theory makes the most sense to me. It gets a little silly when the butterflies and hurricanes are brought up but the basic premiss makes perfect sense. As to what we are to do while we are here...Well that really depends on us and on where the bumpers send us. All we can do is try not to be distracted by the bells and whistles and flashing backbox and just get on with the game. Everyone gets one free Tilt.

Pat said...

Firstly, this question demands a look at ontology. What is it that is 'I'? And, only when we know what we truly mean by 'I', can we look to why such a thing might exist.

In a godless or atheistic paradigm, the Big Bang/creation was an accident without cause, therefore, even in spite of the fact that ever since then all effects are caused, the ORIGINAL cause was just an unexplainable, happenstance accident. In such a universe, we would have no real purpose and are completely free to exploit the laws of physics in order to exploit one another to our heart's content. And, when we die, that's it, no reward nor punishment.

In a theistic paradigm, one could deduce that an omniscient and wise God created the universe for just causes. I.e., He has configured Himself in such a way as to produce a seeming multitude of things that interact. Some of these things are alive and can react intelligently with their environment. However, these living, intelligent beings are prevented from knowing what lies on the future yet are allowed to maintain contact with the past via memory. This affords these creatures with a life that proves their mettle. It affords them 'seeming opportunities' in which it appears as though they could act in a number of different ways, each with differing impacts and effects. Given this illusion, we can deduce that this life is a test--a way for God to create individuals and treat them with perfect justice recompensing paradise for good acts and hell for evil acts. But, it would only be fair for such a God to do this IF He, first, intervened and handed down some form of guidance. Which IS the argument that the Abrahamic faiths put forward. Once guuidance has been given, individuals can be judged based on their actions versus the 'standard' of the guidance.
So, to summarise, in an atheistic paradigm, you exist because of a long chain of causes and effects that miraculously (for there existed nothing to put reason FOR or TO it!) began with an accident and there are no rewards or punishments for our behaviours other than physical effects during our lifetimes. Whereas, in a theistic paradigm, you exist as an example of God's duty to be just and His capability and responsibility to do that which He can, and becomes, via the Divine maintenance of Omnipotence, the basis for God's execution of Divine Justice based on how we act on or react to His guidance.

Alan said...

You exist to shine forth God's glory, and be happy with Him forever in heaven.

Neil said...

One can see why Marx thought religion the opiate of the masses - or at least I guess one could if one knew what a wad of opium does when shoved where the sun don't shine - which is how Victorians tended to use it. That people want these experiences to comfort them or to find glory in is disturbed and disturbing. John Wheeler said the sun would not shine if there was nothing to radiate to. Even that might need stripping bare for the scientist. Life is hard and I'd like some explanations as to why and what kind of future might be worth putting in some hard ground for. I essentially think religion is for the weak, or those of us rendered weak. I would repair with future memories not linger with dead texts from mad societies.

Eric said...

Along with why is how? If we can ascertain how we exist then maybe the why becomes clearer or resolves of itself. Changing Descartes a bit too... I think, ‘I exist’, we see that I’s exist within thought bounded contexts. Do I’s exist outside of those thought bounded contexts? I don’t see how we can claim that I’s do. If I’s are then bound to context, then I am is just another thought that arises and passes away with context. That is, I’s really don’t exist the way we think I’s do i.e. permanently and separately. When the I am thought resolves showing there is no separate me, then the infinite totality is realized without an inside or outside.

Molly Brogan said...

The nature of our existence may well be all tied up in us finding our peace with me and thee. And, that nature may be non local as e suggests. That would not preclude our ethical participation in the world, on the contrary, it would define our duty.

Pat said...

The way I put it is that, in truth, Consciousness is a 3-D loaf. Each of us has an 'apparent' slice of that loaf. But the loaf itself has always existed and always will, as it is nothing but energy, which is neither created nor destroyed--only transformed from one form to another. But, any 3-D 'loaf' can be sliced in a number of different ways across various axes. our 'form' of consciousness is just one form. There are others.

Gibbs said...

But the individual consciousness is one of a kind - each of us apparently has out own unique psychic fingerprint which is what gives this mysterious experience called live so much sizzle.

Molly Brogan said...

What other forms are there, Pat? And how is it we share our particular slice with so much in common? Why slice at all?

Pat said...

I view vegetable 'awareness' as a different 'form' of slice, one that is purely chemical. In that way, our computers have a form of awareness that is purely electrical. Our form is a combination of electrical and chemical.
The term 'slice' is a bit misleading, although it does show the relationship between our consciousness/awareness and that of the whole in that we have but a small part of it. A better analogy might be the teeth of a comb. They are all connected at one point but each 'tooth' extends from the One, that is the comb.
As far as "Why slice (it) at all?" Well, this is the way that the One differentiates its awareness so that there can be inter- relation between the differentials. Quoting the Qur'an, "...so that you may know one another." From a more 'divine' viewpoint, God differentiates His awareness because God CAN differentiate His awareness, He MUST do this as a function of Omnipotence and in order to maintain both Omnipotence (with respect to awareness) and Omniscience, as omniscience is realised by virtue of those 'teeth'/slices all being extensions of the One.

Molly Brogan said...

Very good. So the why of why we exist may just be that the aspect of God within us "MUST do this as a function of Omnipotence and in order to maintain both Omnipotence (with respect to awareness) and Omniscience, as omniscience is realised by virtue of those 'teeth'/slices all being extensions of the One."

Which leaves us like Siddhartha, on the river bank, finding redemption by speaking the word, Om, engaging in experience with complete love to end the suffering. The one and the many, complete. Countless problems with resultant suffering can be named as a result of feeling only the individuality, the separation. The recognition that there are those in power creates a separation that dooms the experience to one of domination, as in fact, "power" exists in the unity, suffering in the separation without unity. The teeth of the comb have not real value without the comb itself, and cannot perform the function of "combing." So it is with our individuality. Our only real power comes in knowing our connectedness, and feeling and acting from there.

Pat said...

And, therein, lies a greater mystery. The equation of 'passion' and 'suffering'. In the Qur'an, Allah is listed as Ar-Rahman, usually translated as 'Most Compassionate'. The prefix 'com' means 'with'; this makes God the One thing that suffers with us. But, this is a two- edged sword. The REAL intention of Ar-Rahman is that God feels towards us in a reciprocal fashion, so, if we regard Him, He regards us. Equally, if we disregard Him, He disregards us. It is from this attribute of reciprocal passion that allows God to act mercifully towards those who acknowledge Him and to act harshly towards those who refuse to acknowledge Him--especially after so many interventions (via prophets and scriptures).

The many are only extensions, though, of the One. There is no 'real' separation, but the 'join', is outside our line of sight. The One is complete and doesn't 'need' the many, because He has them, as they are nothing but extensions of Himself. Whereas we do need Him, as there is nothing ELSE.

And the only one with any REAL power is the One. As Jesus reminded Pilate that, he 'had no power over him unless it was granted to him from above'.

Thus the inherent danger in denying the existence of God--the only thing that could ever actually help us. And this is an over-arching theme of the Qur'an. Sorry for going on so much about Islam, but, as Chris pointed out that it might be difficult to sell my book in Saudi Arabia, it's led me to thinking that there are more likenesses between the God of my physics and Allah as described in the Qur'an than I had, at first, thought. The MAIN point being the 'loss' of 'free will'. One of the main conclusions that can be drawn from my physics is that it is only the will of the One that is enacted. It then follows that one should be mindful OF that (which would lead one to prayer) and, in natural reciprocity, God will be mindful of us when we need Him (which is always, really).

Peter said...

I think we are humans who consume, eliminate, reproduce, and stack things on top of other things. It is the part of me that watches me and the rest of you do this that keeps me wondering.

Just like the fore mentioned sentient beings of literary note that stacked those thoughts into words, that they then stacked some ink on paper, or keystrokes into 0's and 1's to come up with their version of what we as humans share as existence.


While I wonder I will continue to consume, eliminate, reproduce, and stack things on top of other things until I no longer do that. What happens after that I can proudly say "I don't know". I have heard many rampant rumors and innuendo of what others think will happen, but I will have to find out for myself. So will all that are reading this.

Because we all know what we know until we know something different.

Olger said...

While I consider myself spiritual, I stay away from defining anything in terms of a particular religious doctrine as that limits and excludes any other doctrine and the people who follow. Science also stops short of explaining much of what the intellect and the spirit perceives as real. Besides, while Hawkins brilliantly explored and expanded our understanding of the laws of matter and ‘existence’. He did not and would not venture into the question of ‘why’ and ‘purpose’ of the human existence. He, and Einstein before him, humbly will admit their ignorance to the purpose of the universe and humankind in particular.

Why do I exist? I can tell you what I believe. Everything I’ve seen and experienced in my life makes me believe that there is an evolution in progress. We are part of a greater organism and that organism is evolving, changing and moving forward. Everything is born, grows, matures and dies in its own way. But everything also leaves a mark of its existence. Just like great thinkers leave a body of works behind for others to ponder and expand, thus the rest of all creatures and things seem to leave behind a changed environment that moves forward to an evolved state. Whether that state may be defined as ‘heaven’, ‘nirvana’ or a supra-universe, we as humans, seem to be very well aware of the fact that we are moving towards it. The amazing changes that had to take place for single cells to one day begin to organize and form multicellular organisms, can hardly be defined as random. I believe that our actions as individuals continuously add to that evolution of a greater organism. I find it humbling and exciting to be aware of that fact.

Emmanuel said...

We are here to love and serve God, in other words we are here to love and serve others and in doing this we love and serve ourselves.

First there is self love, then the love of others, when this is perfected, then we are perfected. Jesus set the example of this ie: Love your enemies, even on the cross He forgave 'them' or 'us', and by doing this He wins. Have you ever seen the movie 'The Robe'.

We can also win, and don't have to suffer or be crucified, we need only Love.

Zeno said...

I respect the fact that you made a relation from the bible to the concept of existence. However I believe that inter-human relations are but a side affect of an energetic flare. In that given an infinite period of time a certain organization now known as consciousness will inevitably arise. However if you are referring to existence in the physical form, I will direct you towards Stephen Hawking's definition of the beginning of the universe. As spiritually inelegant as that explanation may be I believe it is the furthest we have come to empirically explaining existence.

A link to his lecture regarding the concept of existence and thus creation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFjwXe-pXvM

Olger said...

While I consider myself spiritual, I stay away from defining anything in terms of a particular religious doctrine as that limits and excludes any other doctrine and the people who follow. Science also stops short of explaining much of what the intellect and the spirit perceives as real. Besides, while Hawkins brilliantly explored and expanded our understanding of the laws of matter and ‘existence’. He did not and would not venture into the question of ‘why’ and ‘purpose’ of the human existence. He, and Einstein before him, humbly will admit their ignorance to the purpose of the universe and humankind in particular.

Why do I exist? I can tell you what I believe. Everything I’ve seen and experienced in my life makes me believe that there is an evolution in progress. We are part of a greater organism and that organism is evolving, changing and moving forward. Everything is born, grows, matures and dies in its own way. But everything also leaves a mark of its existence. Just like great thinkers leave a body of works behind for others to ponder and expand, thus the rest of all creatures and things seem to leave behind a changed environment that moves forward to an evolved state. Whether that state may be defined as ‘heaven’, ‘nirvana’ or a supra-universe, we as humans, seem to be very well aware of the fact that we are moving towards it. The amazing changes that had to take place for single cells to one day begin to organize and form multicellular organisms, can hardly be defined as random. I believe that our actions as individuals continuously add to that evolution of a greater organism. I find it humbling and exciting to be aware of that fact.

Ayannak said...

Lately, I think & feel that we exist to discover who we are. Each of our experiences seems to allow for deeper self knowing and that, may , in turn allow God (the source energy, etc.) to know him/her/itself further.

It seems that all of existence continues to interact and effect what existence is, it's purpose and capabilities. Each of us playing our part in a huge cosmic puzzle. Just a thought.

Rafi said...

But, Olger, isn't it an infinite process? I mean however change or evolution you perceive inside, you can't be too certain about it, can you?

Humankind still got a long way to go. Lets surge forward to know the actual meaning of 'Existence'.

Olger said...

You know, until now i did not consider the fact that this process could be infinite. Somehow I always had in mind that 'Nirvana' point which, no matter how far it may be, was the end point of all evolution. But I like your take on it. I could see that our existence is only a grain of sand in an endless beach. And still, the beach would not be without each grain.

I find it exciting to see evolution as an infinite process. Thank you so much for the enlightened picture. Now, I wonder what you think the meaning of existence is at a more personal level. What does it mean to you or I as individuals?

Ayanna said...

For now, I'm, continually, working to integrate a, constant awareness of the
ripple effect. It seems that even our smallest thoughts effect the whole.

Becoming aware, and then molding our truths, in thought and action, to
eventually (positively) effect manifestation, is my idea of successful life.

If each of us were able to reach this point, there's no end to the possibilities.

Rafi said...

I exist because Existence is apparent; and so, I'm apparent. When something is perceived entirely, it's not the same thing anymore......Maybe, We've to change the basics; or accept thousand truths.....

Olger said...

What is existence? The statement "Cogito ergo sum" or "I think, therefore I am" bothered me initially for the simple reason that i misundertood it. I thought, like many others do nowadays, that it states that thought is a requirement for existence. But that would leave out of existence to all those forms of creation that are less capable or none at all of thinking. But the statement only indicates that the fact that i am capable of conceptualizing myself, means that I exist. Even if i was being deceived by some force or god that made me see myself in some way or another, thinking proves that i exist.
So what is existence? Mathematically, it is occupying a "position" in one of the axis formed by the dimensions of the universe. But metaphysically, does it really matter? I mean, does existence have a meaning if there is no thought/intelligence out there to make sense of it? Just like light, for instance, if there is no surface or matter for the light to manifest on, would it ever be perceived? Therefore, I would say, "relevant existence" is the awareness of an entity of itself or the manifestation of the environment that surrounds it.

Eylem said...

Perceiving this moment exactly as it is, rather than through the filter of our ideas, opinions, etc. is the key idea of existance for me....

If you keep it moment to moment, then everything is clear. Then, each moment, whatever you're doing, just do it. When you're sitting, just sit; when you're eating, just eat; and so on. According to Zen, existence is found in the silence of the mind (no-mind), beyond the chatter of our internal dialog. Existence, from the Zen perspective is something that is only happening spontaneously, and it is not just our thoughts. All of life that we perceive is constantly in a state of change. Every atom in the universe is somewhere different every millionth of a second.

Since the earth is constantly moving, and our thoughts and our bodies are constantly in a process of fluctuation, then what we really are, can only be experienced in each moment. For me we exist to live each moment with confidence and let ourself to life with deep belief and commitment to its earnings.

Count Sneaky said...

Perhaps, the question "Why do I exist?" has no meaning either subjective or objective. Because we can ask it, does not mean we can answer it or that it has an answer in terms we can understand. If, you feel you must have an answer you have to provide your own and it has no meaning beyond that. Perhaps, man is not the "measure of all things."

Count Sneaky said...

Perhaps, the question "Why do I exist?" has no meaning either subjective or objective. Because we can ask it, does not mean we can answer it or that it has an answer in terms we can understand. If, you feel you must have an answer you have to provide your own and it has no meaning beyond that. Perhaps, man is not the "measure of all things."

Campbell Jane said...

Such an interesting question to ponder. We are free to make our existance have a meaning. Why do I exist is ultimately impossible for me to answer but I do know that most days I'm very happy to be here! Thank you for supporting my art & including my Angel in this awesome post!
Blessings
Campbelljane