Today, I ask my readers a question. “Why are we here?” As a guy who takes Plato’s advice that ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’ to an extreme that only privileged folk with time on their hands can unspool, I think about this often. Probably too much. Yet, in truth, I have no answer.
I think there is something bigger than us, call it god if you like. But I don’t think it demands our adoration and certainly don’t think it has the human characteristics most religions ascribe to their creators. Gods who resemble us are nothing more than a narcissistic failure of imagination.
Why are we here? inevitably leads to circular reasoning. We are here to procreate. Check. We are here to care for each other. Check. We are here to care for the other creatures of the earth. Check. All great notions to keep us purposefully busy; to weave a net of connection. They help us direct the process of living, but don’t explain the foundational reason for us to exist in the first place.
Was Sally Bowles right: are we just here to have a good time? Did Schweitzer nail it with selfless service? Do monks, men of moderate emotion, have insider knowledge? If so, then why do I feel so much all the time? Good, bad, hot, cold, hungry, full, anxious, content, I get so tired of feeling, always feeling.
Science is exquisite at enumerating ‘what’ and describing ‘how.’ That’s why I believe in science. That’s also why I believe science is insufficient. ‘What’ and ‘how’ can explain but they cannot illuminate. We are creatures driven by ‘why.’ And as far as I can tell, our ‘why’ remains elusive.
If you know why we are here, please fill me in.