Developing A Universal Religion/Looking For A Purpose/What Purpose Can We Use?

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So, life and our universe have no discernable purpose. Let us return to where we started this chapter and discuss what alternative purpose, if selected, might give us a vision that we can live with and, more importantly, live for.

Please do not misunderstand what I am about to propose. Life, as I have said, cannot be proven to be directed toward a purpose. Neither existing nor evolving is a purpose—these are simply states of affairs. Demonstrating a trend toward complexity does not demonstrate purpose—it demonstrates only what happens when something new is added to something old. Nor does the ability to learn then apply what has been learned prove that life has a purpose.

But we need a purpose to rationally make the many moral decisions thrust upon us by scientific and technological advances. And we need a universally accepted one if we are to achieve any degree of unanimity. So, one must be contrived.

What I am about to propose we adopt is based upon what we now know about the universe and about our abilities within that universe. Two millennia ago, we knew little and could control next to nothing. With ideas inherited from the Pharaohs and earlier civilizations, the only future we could imagine preparing for was our personal entry into an assumed afterlife. Times are much different now. Today, we think about the future of others, including other species, as much as we think about our own. And we are beginning to realize that, collectively, we have the potential to achieve and control almost anything we care to dream about.

A word of caution before we proceed. In selecting a purpose to guide us, we must be careful not to separate ourselves from life. Past religions did this—humans held themselves different from, and superior to, all other forms of life. We know better than this, nowadays. Life itself is our parent. Other living entities are our siblings. We have no more, and no less, purpose for living than life itself has. Thus, whatever we select to be a purpose for humans, must be a purpose that applies to all other living entities, including those beyond our planet.

What, then, do we choose to be our universal purpose?

Given that there is no detectable purpose pre-designed into life or the universe, then, if we must have one, we must adopt a surrogate.

To my mind, the only viable option is to support life’s continual evolution and focus upon helping it to achieve an omnipotent ability. Such a purpose is universal and rational; it is a purpose that will last as long as life itself lasts. It accommodates the whole of life, and shows that we care about more than just our own well-being. It declares that we value life for its own sake and think little about the death that must follow, taking it simply as the price to be paid for living.

Such a choice, if made, would be so all-encompassing it would warrant being called a “meta-purpose.”[1] If we indeed determine that all evidence points to life’s evolution ultimately possessing omnipotent abilities, if selecting such an outcome could clear the way to making decisions that are both moral and beneficial to all forms of life (and this claim has yet to be substantiated, but we will examine both ideas later), then how can this not be the most logical “surrogate purpose” to choose?

(Indeed, we don’t really have any other choice if the review conducted in Part Four has any merit, for, as we will see, no other purpose is as likely to ensure our future survival.)

What this might mean, and how we might obtain benefit by adopting it, must wait to be explored until Part Four. One other matter should be presented first; a speculation about what could be causing life to evolve toward such an end.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Webster defines “meta” as follows:
    Meta, prefix. “situated behind or beyond,” “later or more highly organized or specialized form of,” “more comprehensive: transcending . . . used with the name of a discipline to designate a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original one.”
    Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Frederick C. Mish, Editor in Chief (Markham, Ontario: Thomas Allen & Son Limited, 1986).

    Thus, the term “meta-purpose” is intended to convey the idea that its stature is greater than other purposes.