What’s the Point?

As we rocket past the singularity, this question is going to loom larger in the minds of those who have always believed we were put here for a purpose. Some environmentalists may begin to ponder this in a new way as they witness the expanding human superconsciousness grow outward into space and onto countless other planets. Others will wonder this while they gather matter together in a universe slowly dying from entropy many trillions of years from now. This is for all those people/conscious entities out there.

To get straight to the point, there is no point. There cannot possibly be a larger meaning for the universe, because there is nothing larger than the universe (or multiverse or everything in existence). A meaning connects something to something larger. A word has meaning because it refers to something bigger than itself. A machine has a purpose (basically the same thing as meaning) because it accomplishes a goal apart from its existence. The universe can’t possibly be here for any reason, because on a long enough time scale, everything dies. Even if there is an immortal God who created us for a purpose, what could that purpose be? To serve him? Why? We are being like children here, asking for reasons for things and repeating “why” over and over.

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-4

Meaning is impossible to find in the universe. We’ve had to struggle with the fact that the universe isn’t bound by laws of justice and doesn’t care about our suffering. Some people still won’t accept this fact and cling to the notion that the innocent will prosper and the wicked will suffer, though history presents a distinctly different account.

I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.

Ecclesiastes 7:15

This leaves us in an awkward place, but we need not be. We need to get it in our heads that meaning is what we ascribe to things. A word is meaningful because we think it is. To an alien, it would be meaningless. Our life’s meaning is whatever we want it to be. We had it easy when we knew our purpose, when we had to work to eat and eat to survive, everything was to the point. Now we have leisure, which we aren’t mentally well equipped for. We can choose now, and this freedom is going to become much more real after the singularity.

So what will you choose to find meaning in when you no longer have to work to survive? you’ll need to find other work, some other purpose. most of us have already done this, and very few of us farm anymore. We create companies, entertain, make things, heal people, blog, and travel, finding meaning in all of these things. The jobs will change in the future, but there will always be things to do. Or you could be lazy, say that the only meaning for you is subjective well being, program yourself to be happy and sit on a couch for eternity. You may say that sitting on a couch for eternity is meaningless, but you are just a blob of particles that will inevitably disintegrate into chaos and entropy so look who’s talking.

Above all we will find meaning in order and not chaos (chaos by definition cannot be meaningful), in work and not heat, in each other and not the universe. We found out that things could mean something greater through our toil, and it is through our toil that we will continue to find meaning.

I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?

Ecclesiastes 3:22

Listen to the words of the Preacher.



About Prometheus

I write about the coming technological singularity and its implications for our sense of identity, individuality, meaning, and existence. I argue that the most significant aspect of the singularity is the convergence of our consciousnesses into one superconsciousness, and that we should be very happy about this.

Posted on May 16, 2011, in Existence, Meaning, Technological Singularity, Values and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. “You may say that sitting on a couch for eternity is meaningless, but you are just a blob of particles that will inevitably disintegrate into chaos and entropy so look who’s talking.”

    Great quote!

  2. Mike McCausland

    This post seems incongruous with your other posts, like you had a bad day!

    Sure there is a point, a purpose! I’ve been married for a while, have children and lots of friends. I find tremendous purpose and fulfillment in just being with them and experiencing life! We dont have to do anything or accomplish anything, its just about being together. The closer the better. Belonging and being a part of – thats the point, thats the purpose.

    We exist to belong and be a part of, to love, to connect, to achieve unity! Though we are separate individuals, we can connect with others. As we evolve, we will connect more completely. Thats a good enough purpose for me!

    • And it’s good enough for me too! I love life and I believe that enjoying life and living a life of fulfillment is as close to the point of our existence as it gets. above all love and unity are what we drive toward, what fulfills us. but at the end of the day, at the end of the universe, there will be nothing left of any of this. All of our purpose driven lives must end, and everything that we have built for billions of years will fade with us.

      I suppose it seems incongruous with the rest of my thoughts because I keep an optimistic outlook most of the time, focusing on the meaning that my experience can bring me. I do this not to deny the utter meaninglessness of the universe, but to persist and enjoy my place in things, knowing that it must all end (and knowing that life is all the sweeter because it must end).

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