Yesterday I got this message from someone.
Just curious, perhaps it would be an idea to make a topic with the title: Why do we exist? I am convinced that we have no free will at all and life seems so useless...(to me).
Since I enjoy challenges, I said that I'd attempt a blog post on this subject, though I don't have any firm answer to the question.
So here goes. I'll be sort of rambling in my response, given that quite a few different ideas have been meandering through my brain as I thought about the message at various times today.
Since I no longer believe in any religion, the straightforward answer to why we exist is nature.
Our universe came into being via the big bang some 14 billion years ago. After Earth formed much later, life appeared on our planet, which began a lengthy process of evolution that resulted in our species, Homo sapiens.
That's one way to look upon why do we exist? Natural causes led to people being alive today. But why can also point to a reason for being that goes beyond mere physical existence.
This reason wouldn't come from a supernatural creator, since as noted above I don't believe in one.
However, it's possible that there's some law of nature which favors ever-increasing degrees of consciousness in living creatures, with we humans being the pinnacle of consciousness at the moment. I also reject this view, given that evolution doesn't work through "favors."
I don't like why's. At least, not when it comes to Big Important Questions.
I've written about how "Why is there something rather than nothing?" leads nowhere, while "There is something rather than nothing" is a productive statement that reflects reality. Likewise, "Why do we exist?" is an intriguing question, but "We exist" strikes me as even more interesting.
I'm fascinated by existence. I adore existence. I can't get enough of existence.
At my age of 75, I'm well aware that existence isn't something I can count on for a whole lot longer, given that it strikes me as a virtual certainty that once I die, I'm dead and gone forever. Well, actually I've felt this way for quite a while.
I'll be going along in my daily routine, doing this and that, going here and there, when I'll suddenly have the sensation, One day I won't exist, so everything I'm aware of now is infinitely precious.
At least, those are words that came to mind when I try to describe the sensation.
The sensation itself is wordless, being a knowing, a wake-up call, a premonition from my brain/mind to pay rapt attention now to everything that exists around me and in me and as me, because there's no way to know when a last breath, a last heartbeat, a last flickering of consciousness, marks the end of my existence.
Or your existence. Or anybody's existence.
This is why Why do we exist? means so little to me when I envision myself not existing. Yes, I adore important philosophical questions. However, death has a way of making every sort of question fade into insignificance.
Living as fully as possible now -- that's an action-filled statement that makes sense to me. I want to believe that if I was totally engaged in brushing my teeth, or writing a blog post, or patting our dog, or doing any other everyday activity, if death made an appearance at that moment and said, Nonexistence has arrived, my friend, I'd be able to reply, So be it.
As the person who sent me the message observed, we have no free will. I heartily agree. This is especially obvious when it comes to our birth and death. No free will there, for sure. (Suicide is thrust upon us, not freely chosen, as is everything else.)
So this is the way I see things. The big bang happened. The formation of Earth happened. Life happened. Evolution happened. Home sapiens happened. The birth of each of us happened. The death of each of us is bound to happen.
None of these happenings was within our control. None of what's happened to us during our lifetime was within our control either, though most of us embrace the illusion of personal control and free will. So in this sense life is indeed useless, as the person who sent me the message said.
But it is useless only because there is no User -- no Self, no Soul, no Commander, no CEO inside our head in charge of what we do, feel, and believe. We're an integral part of the cosmos. Nature is us; we are nature. Whatever happens arises out of that unity.
Every living being comes into existence, then departs from existence. Heck, maybe everything does, our universe included, except existence itself. For that reason I feel grateful that the being who goes by my name and is writing this blog post has been able to experience life and existence even though I had nothing to do with this.
And that's my roundabout reply to Why do we exist? In no way did I genuinely answer the question, but I had an enjoyable time dancing around a question I'm incapable of answering.