What is the meaning of life?
This is such a short question but it requires such a profound answer. The meaning of life and your meaning in life (your purpose) asks two different things, and the latter will be addressed in a separate article. The importance of your life will also be addressed in another article and asks still another question and the answer is subjective. It is someone’s opinion and their answer depends on what you do or have done with your life, whose lives you have touched, who you ask, and your own personal religious or philosophical viewpoint.
Life on earth began around 3.8 billion years ago with the formation of something called prokaryotic cells – essentially bacteria. If we look around today we do not see bacteria – they are generally too small to be seen individually – although they are visible in colonies. They are present within our bodies numbering in the trillions. There are religious answers as to how they came to be and scientific ones. Science is fairly convinced that at least the amino acids and components that made up the first cells came from outer space from asteroids. There are meteorites called carbonaceous chondrites that carry pretty much all of the essential amino acids needed for life. One of these meteorites – the Murchison – which was found in 1969 near Murchison, Australia, predates our solar system.
In deep places in the ocean, there are openings in the ocean floor called vents, where volcanic activity beneath spews material into the frigid waters and those places abound in life. It is here that many scientists believe the first cells appeared.
Once they did, it becomes apparent that they reproduced and reproduced and reproduced. Over eons they adapted to change, and as they did, they, themselves changed. Earth had extinction events – erupting volcanoes – asteroid impacts – but some living things that were here on earth either survived, or started over until more complex groups of cells took over specific functions within the group. The groups became organisms, and organisms became even more complex, and larger. They eventually became us and every living thing you see.
As we scan stars for other planets, we are also now looking for signs of life on those planets. We do that by analyzing the chemicals in the spectrum of a star, literally a rainbow created by a prism or similar optic, that has lines in it that tell us what elements are in the source of the light – the star- and the differences in that spectrum when a planet passes between the star and us. The planet blocks out a tiny amount of light, but the star light also shines through the planet’s atmosphere. We may soon find life on another planet – or perhaps a moon of a planet within our own solar system, but as of this writing life elsewhere has yet to be found.
Whether life is found to exist in many places in our universe, as I suspect it will, it is still, for us, precious. Each of us won a lottery simply to be here. In the instant your mother became pregnant with you, you won out over the other sperm competing with the one that became half of you. There would have been between 40 million to 1.2 billion other sperm, yet you were the one that became – YOU. If another sperm had beaten you to your mothers’ egg, someone else – your brother or sister would have been born – but not you. Your mother and father, both faced the same daunting odds of being born, and their parents, and their parents’ parents – back through time. The odds of YOU being here are trillions and trillions to one – but here you are – reading this. I believe that makes your life precious and very special. While it is true that with all of the reproduction going on that someone would be here, it is wonderful and amazing that it is us. A single change in plans anywhere along the way – your great great, great grandmother telling her husband “not tonight” would have changed everything. Likewise, If your mom had not met your dad you would not be you.
So I feel we all need to be very grateful that we have an opportunity to live. We need to respect life. I have a funny idiosyncrasy. I dislike insects in my home, but I rarely kill one – I scoop it up and take it out to my garden and let it live out there. It may not, of course, but I do not want to take its life from it.
I think the meaning of life can be found in the history of life itself. All of those creatures, insects, cells, and humans before us did something special for us all. They advanced, to the extent they could, they tried to increase the odds of their species survival sometimes through the sheer numbers of themselves, though not always successfully. They created more of themselves often with better immunities and sometimes, biological advancements, and in the case of humans, technological advancements – better tools, whether stone or metal, and better methods of survival, clothing, shelter, eventually farming, and civilization. The meaning of life – is life itself and our great fortune to possess it. The odds were certainly against us. Our obligation to the future is to leave the world a better place than when we entered it.
What are your thoughts on this?
Originally posted 2015-07-09 22:50:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter