The Purpose of Our Existence

Today’s topic was chosen by Gautum U, who attends Caltech. He specifically asked for a “serious blog post” as opposed to a “satire” for this one. (Interestingly, the only other person who asked explicitly for a serious post was someone who chose the topic of Free Will for the 30th. It seems that philosophy is quite some serious business.)

What is the purpose of existence? It’s one of the most profound questions of metaphysics. It is even broader than the humanized form, What is the meaning of life? This specific one asks why we are here. But to be more general, we should ask, why is anything here?

Let us ask, why does Earth exist? Scientifically, there’s no real reason. Take a look at the following:

This image, known famously as the “pale blue dot” picture, was snapped by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1991. That tiny pixel right there is Earth, viewed from 4 billion miles away. Indeed, from the scale of space, Earth is just a speck of dust. Galaxies, astronomers estimate, have 100 billion stars each. And there might be 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe. And according to the still debated multiverse theory, our universe may be only a tiny bubble in a vast sea of universes. And our Earth is but one of the thousands of objects floating the Sun. And humans have been on Earth for only a tiny fraction of its history.

It is like you are looking at an infinite beach, and you point at one grain of sand, and you ask, “Why does this grain of sand exist?” It seems this is the wrong question. We should instead ask, “Why does this beach exist?”

Why does the universe (or multiverse) exist? Again, there doesn’t seem to be any intrinsic purpose.

If you believe in God, you would say, the universe or multiverse exists because God created it. But then this turtles down to why does God exist? By most definitions of God, we would never be able to know.

So generalizing the question does not seem like the right thing to do either, as it gets us nowhere. If it’s futile to ask why an atom exists, and also futile why the universe exists, then what is there to ask?

Why we exist. Human beings. Gautam’s topic as originally stated was “the purpose of our existence” (emphasis added). Just like atoms to the entire universe, we don’t seem to have any intrinsic reason to be here. Rather, the purpose of our existence is what we invoke upon ourselves, by placing faith into religions (or the act of not doing so), by following our emotions and values, by setting goals and aspirations, and by rationalizing what we know. The purpose of our existence is not given to us; it’s there for us to find.

About Sean Li

A student at Cornell University.
This entry was posted in Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Purpose of Our Existence

  1. jc says:

    the snowflakes falling are bigger than the earth.

    Like this

  2. V says:

    Pretty sure I asked for the 30th…also, I wasn’t trying to ironic :P I’m actually interested in what you really think about Free Will, silly.

    Like this

  3. V says:

    Also, existentialism? (if you feel like doing an extension)

    Like this

  4. Yokipi says:

    Mine should be a serious topic…
    Seriously.

    Like this

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