We share our biological purpose with every other living organism, which is to perpetuate our existence through metabolism, procreation, cooperation and competition. However, once we rise above the business of our survival, the question of the meaning and purpose of life becomes of great importance. This quest for some kind of transcendental purpose is a uniquely human process. Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? Why is there suffering?
There seem to be 3 core world views that people hold about the origins of humans.
1. The Creationist View
3. Intelligent Design
Creationism is the belief that the Universe and everything in it was created by a deity or deities. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all share the same basic creation story but many other religions and indigenous cultures have similar stories. New Ager’s are the latest embodiment of creationism replacing God with the idea of a higher intelligent being/s or spirit that has a purpose and guides all things. The core problem for creationism is the requirement for a modern mind to accept mythical non provable tenets, or to base belief on faith.
Evolution is the idea that something simple, like an atom, develops over time into something complex like the universe, the planet, and humans. The exact steps how (or why) life first arose out of non-living matter is not clear. Two core unresolved problems for evolution is the emergence of life forms in the first place, and the emergence of self-consciousness in humans. But once there was living matter, evolution describes how mutations in the DNA of these living organisms, over time, has created the variety of species we have today.
Intelligent Design (ID) is a post-modern concept that has arisen in response to the underlying paradox’s in scientific materialism on the one hand and problems with religious belief on the other. In a nutshell ID explores the concept that there is a deeper level to the interconnectedness of everything in existence. Interest in this concept is coming from the science of quantum mechanics, non-locality and the study of consciousness. The core problem for ID is the current lack of all the necessary scientific pieces of the puzzle to establish the system beyond doubt.
Each of these belief systems offers ways for humans to find purpose and meaning in their lives and much time is wasted arguing about which one is correct, notwithstanding the fact that there are clear knowledge gaps in each.
It does not matter whether you believe in a mythic god, purely physical forces or an intelligent evolutionary impulse. What is true, is that humans create their own purpose and the meaning of their lives within their own conscious mind. This involves deep thinking about your passions and then working out a way to use abilities for the benefit of yourself and others.
Finding meaning is the uniquely human process of working out how you can create more goodness, truth, beauty or functionality in the world.